Photo: Sang An

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Major Impact: Countertop
You'll need a professional for this one—but a new countertop can really transform a kitchen, says Carrier. "If you want things to be pristine all the time, pick a man-made material like Caesarstone quartz, which is nearly impervious to heat or stains. If you prefer a bit of patina that will change over time and are fine with a few scratches and spots, you can go with soapstone, marble, or zinc" (like the island countertop in this kitchen).