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Mar 7, 2022

Splurge-Worthy Kitchens: Survey reveals trends that homeowners are embracing with their cash

Cheryl Ricer

Photography By

Randy Jeffcoat Builders
The average spend for major kitchen remodels increased in mid-2021 by 14 percent up to $40,000 and by 25 percent to $10,000 for minor kitchen remodels, compared to 2020. Spending for a kitchen size of 250 square feet or more continued its climb for the fourth year in a row, to $50,000, up from $45,000 in 2020, while a kitchen remodel of less than 250 square feet increased as well, up to $35,000 from $30,000.

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Almost half of renovating homeowners reported that the impetus for their kitchen spending was simply that they had finally saved enough money to do so, with 30 percent reporting that having an old kitchen that deteriorated or broke down was their trigger to spend their money.

So, where are most U.S. homeowners putting their cash in their kitchens?

  • Countertops are tops. Most renovation budgets are making countertops the priority. A Houzz survey of nearly 2,400 U.S. homeowners found that more than one-third of homeowners reportedly splurged on countertops. The most common feature improved during kitchen renovations, countertops were upgraded by 91 percent of homeowners. Other areas where renovators spent more than originally intended include appliances (27 percent), cabinets (23 percent), and backsplashes (20 percent).
  • When it comes to types of countertops, homeowners are choosing materials based on the look and feel, durability and ease of cleaning, rather than cost. Engineered quartz and granite are the most popular countertop materials (42 and 24 percent, respectively), despite tax and pandemic-induced price increases. Interestingly, more than one in five renovators are selecting an island countertop that contrasts with their primary counters, and 35 percent of those have selected butcher block or wood slab as the contrasting feature, even though that material has also been impacted by the pandemic. Aesthetically, almost 40 percent of homeowners chose white for their countertops, up six percentage points from the previous year.
  • Appliances get a boost from high-tech features. Appliances are the second most common splurge during kitchen renovations (27 percent). Over a third of upgraded appliances include high-tech features (35 percent), up six percentage points from 2020. The most popular kitchen appliance features are wireless and smartphone controls.
  • Nearly 20 percent of homeowners installed beverage refrigerators in their renovated kitchens (up five percentage points) and 14 percent of homeowners are adding wine refrigerators. This increase is most likely connected to the upsurge in kitchen entertaining (56 percent), up four percentage points over the past year.
  • Cabinets are replaced or refinished. Cabinets are the number three splurge item, with almost a quarter of homeowners spending more than planned on the feature. Most are replacing all kitchen cabinets as part of a kitchen renovation (65 percent), while nearly a third chose to partially replace the kitchen cabinets. Among those homeowners opting for a partial cabinet upgrade, 65 percent are simply refinishing cabinet exteriors.
  • “It is clear that homeowners are willing to spend a little more to get exactly what they want in upgrades that are both beautiful and practical, despite rising prices of labor, products and materials,” said Marine Sargsyan, Houzz senior economist. “We’re seeing a rise in overall kitchen renovation spending as homeowners not only splurge on specific features but also make major modifications to the kitchen, many of which require the assistance of licensed home professionals. In fact, hiring rates for home professionals to complete these projects are the highest we’ve seen in four years.”
  • Professional help. Almost half of renovating homeowners change the layout of their kitchen and over one-third upgrade systems, such as electrical or plumbing, or modify walls. Considering the complexities of these projects, folks are increasingly turning to professionals. Overall hiring of kitchen renovation professionals has jumped to 89 percent from 85 percent in 2020, its highest level in four years. General contractors continue to be hired most frequently (53 percent), up significantly by four percentage points from 2021. Cabinetmakers, kitchen designers and interior designers are also being hired more frequently than last year.

Additional insights from the 2022 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study include:

  • Islands are important. More than half of renovating homeowners either upgrade or add an island, while nearly two in five still have no island at all. More than one quarter improve an existing island, up by three percentage points from the previous year—a significant increase. Remarkably, one fifth of homeowners say that a top activity at their kitchen islands is work (up four percentage points from 2021). Homeowners are making space for workplaces by stretching their islands more than seven feet in length (39 percent), up five percentage points from last year. Homeowners are also making the space brighter with most installing new light fixtures above islands (92 percent).
  • Layout choices among those who are changing their kitchen layout are consistent with 2020. The L shape is most popular (40 percent), followed by the U shape (31 percent) and then the galley style, which has two facing walls (13 percent).
  • White and gray are winners. White continues to lead as the top color for kitchen cabinets, backsplashes, and walls (41, 40 and 32 percent, respectively). Gray is the most common alternative to white, with 27 percent of renovating homeowners painting the kitchen walls gray, 13 percent installing gray flooring, and 11 percent opting for a gray backsplash. That said, blue, black, and green bring visual interest to the space through contrasting kitchen island cabinet colors. For the backsplash, 20 percent choose a multicolored backsplash, six percent choose blue, while a whopping 11 percent choose marble for their backsplash. For appliances, standard stainless is the overwhelming favorite (75 percent), up by three percentage points from the previous year.
  • Vinyl flooring is steps ahead. Vinyl or resilient flooring continues its rise for the third year in a row, nearly doubling in popularity since 2019 to 23 percent and surpassing ceramic and porcelain tile (19 percent), which declined by five percentage points and fell from first place. Hardwood now leads as the most popular flooring material in kitchens (25 percent).
  • Kitchen style. Transitional remains the premier style choice for renovated kitchens in 2022, up to 25 percent from 21 percent in 2020. Contemporary style has overtaken modern as the number two pick, while farmhouse style has dropped by two percentage points, chosen by only one in 10 kitchen renovators, declining further from its peak of 14 percent in 2019.

All data cited in this article comes from the 2022 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study.

Ten Take-aways

  1. Spending is on the rise
  2. Pro hiring continues to climb
  3. Consumers splurge on countertops
  4. Vinyl flooring gains a foothold
  5. White and gray dominate
  6. Cabinets capture focus
  7. Kitchen islands command attention
  8. Marble backsplashes are gaining popularity
  9. Beverage refrigerators are popping up
  10. High-tech features find their way home

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