Investments Rise, Projects Scaled Back

by Autumn McGarr

PALO ALTO, CA — Investments in kitchen remodeling continue to increase among homeowners, although the breadth of renovation is being scaled back due to rising product costs.

That’s the major finding of the 2020 “Kitchen Trends Study,” released last month by Houzz, the Palo Alto, CA-based online platform for home remodeling and design.

Results from the survey of nearly 2,600 U.S. homeowners revealed that median spending on major kitchen remodels completed in mid-2019 was $35,000, up 17% from a year earlier. But while many homeowners are opting for kitchen overhauls, the breadth of the renovations has been scaled back for the second year in a row, Houzz found. For example, upgrades to countertops and sinks are not as widespread compared with two years ago. Similarly, structural upgrades are not as frequent, including opening the kitchen to other interior rooms, changing the kitchen layout or adding square footage, Houzz reported.

“It’s remarkable to see median spending on kitchen remodels grow by double digits for the third year in a row,” said Nino Sitchinava, Houzz principal economist. “Combined with a two-year decline in the scope of kitchen remodels, spending increases confirm our findings of significant price inflation in the home remodeling industry due to changes in international trade policy.” Homeowners are dealing with increasing product prices “by substituting materials…highly impacted by tariffs on imported materials from China,” Sitchinava reported.

Among trending kitchen styles, features and finishes:

  • Nearly two-thirds (61%) of renovated kitchens feature an island. One third of homeowners (33%) added an island during renovations, while nearly a quarter (22%) upgraded an existing island. The islands are also sizable, with one-third measuring more than seven feet long and another 39% six to seven feet long. In addition to their substantial physical presence, islands are a hub of activity from dining (58%) to entertaining (49%) to socializing (45%).
  • Among the 85% of renovating homeowners who changed their kitchen style, transitional, contemporary and modern top the list (21%, 16% and 15%, respectively).
  • One in 10 homeowners upgrading a backsplash goes bold, installing it all the way to the ceiling (11%). Another 63% install tile from their counter to upper cabinets or range hood. In terms of color, white is the most popular (35%), followed by multi-colored (20%) and gray (15%).
  • White continues to be the most popular cabinet color (45%), followed by medium wood (11%) and gray (10%). Shaker cabinet door styles are by far the most popular among upgraded cabinetry (61%), followed by flat-panel and raised-panel (21% and 18%, respectively).
  • Recessed lights continue to be the most popular light fixture upgrades (69%), followed by under-cabinet and pendant lights (65% and 56%, respectively). 92% of homeowners upgrading their islands choose new lighting above the island, with pendants the most common option (66%).
  • While high-tech features remain popular among those upgrading faucets and appliances, their growth has slowed slightly. Half of upgraded faucets are high tech (51% versus 57% in 2019), boasting water efficiency, no-fingerprint coating or touch-free activation. Similarly, a quarter of major appliances include high-tech features (25% versus 30% in 2019), with wireless controls leading the pack. ▪

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