For some, the idea of a kitchen renovation is thrilling. They can't wait to get in there and rip out counter tops, replace or paint cabinets, and choose shiny new finishes. Others just had a small anxiety attack upon reading the words "kitchen" and "renovation" together.

Mosaik Design reports that the national average of an 83% ROI, and the best way to achieve the max is to "focus on kitchen upgrades that are energy-efficient, reasonably priced, and low-maintenance." That's especially important if you're looking to sell your home sometime soon.

"If you have a dated kitchen…and a buyer walks into that kitchen, they're going to think that in order to redo that kitchen, they're going to have to spend $40,000 or $50,000," said US News. In reality, "the average cost of a minor kitchen remodel -- new cabinet doors, appliances, counter tops, sink, faucet, paint and hardware" -- is $20,122 nationwide, according to the most recent Cost vs. Value report. "Savvy shoppers can do it for less than the buyer assumes."

Even if you have no plans of selling soon, or ever, choosing the kitchen upgrades that can have the biggest impact on the look and function of your space while providing the best return on your investment is key. Put your money in the following areas to give you the best shot at both.

Appliances

 Stainless will instantly update the look of the space, and if your old appliances were, well, old, they probably weren't functioning great anyway, nor were they energy efficient. To keep this upgrade within your budget, try to find a deeply discounted appliance at an outlet or local "scratch-and-dent" store — where almost-perfect pieces come with perfectly approachable price tags.

Cabinets

"Cabinets make up a big chunk of the total cost for kitchen upgrades, sometimes one-third of your total budget," said Mosaik Design. But you can easily update your space by painting them. As long as your doors and drawers are in decent condition, a few coats of paint will make a huge difference. Choose white for a fresh look that will also make your space look larger.

New hardware

Havertown Petite Kitchen

You'd be surprised how impactful new hardware can be in making your cabinets look fresh and new, especially if they represent a fancy new trend, like the return of brass, which has never looked better.

Countertops

Investing in new countertops can be pricey, and if you're getting ready to sell, you might not want to make the investment in high-end materials. "Make your decisions with thriftiness in mind: choose one of the more affordable granite countertops (such as Napoli, Baltic Brown, or St. Cecilia)," said Forbes. "Leave higher-end stone and more ornate beveling for your next home.

Add a backsplash

If your backsplash is icky, ugly, or barely warrants a mention, it's time to get it together. With the right materials and a good effort, you can make the backsplash a focal point, which can help emphasize the positive and downplay other features in the space that may need attention.

"Add a splash of color with a new backsplash," said HGTV. "New tile is attractive." And if you want to do it yourself, "Home improvement stores teach classes on this."

Not sure what to choose? Subway tile is both classic and trendy, which makes it safe, and thanks to about 10,000 kitchen renovations on TV, it's also one of the most sought-after options.

New lighting

The only thing worse than a dark and dreary kitchen is dark and dreary kitchen with ugly light fixtures. Swap out the chandelier in your eat-in kitchen for something more fresh, and concentrate on the area over your island or breakfast bar by adding a few trendy pendant lights.

 Add under cabinet lighting to give the kitchen a higher-end look — or simply change out the bulbs in existing fixtures to cast the kitchen in a better light (you might be surprised at the results!).

Lisa Longest, a trusted real estate professional with over 13 years experience, specializing in listing and selling residential homes on both sides of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, in Anne Arundel and Queen Anne county, from luxury homes to more modest dwellings.  Lisa is an active member at MidShore Board of Realtors®

You can reach Lisa best on her cell phone at 443-786-4200, or via email LisaLongest@EXITGoldRealty.com.  EXIT GOLD REALTY is located at 115 Pullmans Crossing Road, Grasonville, MD 21638. The broker, Debbie Houck, can be reached at the office under 410-304-2115.