Houzz: Islands at the Center of Most Kitchen Renovations

Houzz: Islands at the Center of Most Kitchen Renovations

Renovators are installing large islands with built-in appliances and cabinets that contrast with main kitchen cabinetry, according to Houzz's Kitchen Trends Study.

Large islands remain the focal point of renovated kitchens in the U.S., according to the 2020 Houzz Kitchen Trends Study. Three in five renovated kitchens feature an island, with one-third of renovating homeowners adding an island during renovations and one in five renovators upgrading an existing kitchen island. Islands have a high value to renovating homeowners for their versatility, serving as a space for dining, entertaining, and socializing as well as providing kitchen storage.

Homeowners are also electing to make islands the visual highlight of renovated kitchens. Two in five renovators adding or upgrading island cabinetry opt for a color that contrasts with their main cabinets. While all-white and wood-tone cabinets remain popular for main cabinetry units, blue, gray, and black are popular contrasting colors for island cabinetry, according to Houzz. Island cabinets also increasingly contrast with main cabinetry style. While Shaker-style retains its commanding hold on cabinet style market share, flat-panel or louvered door styles are popular for island cabinetry.

Island countertops are another area where homeowners are adding contrast to the rest of the kitchen, according to the Kitchen Trends Study, with 29% of upgraded islands featuring a contrasting countertop color. Wood-tone and white are the most popular colors for contrasting countertops in upgraded islands. Butcher block is the most popular island countertop material for renovators who choose to contrast the island with their main countertop style. Additionally, nearly all islands have storage features, with more than 50% of islands having built-in appliances such as microwaves and dishwashers.

Trigger, Spend, and Scope
The top trigger of kitchen renovations for homeowners was finally having the financial means to do renovations that they had wanted to do all along. Mirroring a trend seen in bathroom renovations, kitchen remodeling is increasingly triggered, though, by old kitchens deteriorating or breaking down. Kitchen deterioration is at its highest level in the five years Houzz has tracked kitchen project motivations, a sign of the aging housing stock in the country.

The Houzz study found that financial investments in kitchens grew 17% year over year and the median spend for major kitchen remodels completed through mid-2019 was $35,000. Homeowners in San Jose, Calif., San Francisco, Boston, and Washington, D.C., reported the highest median spend on major kitchen remodels, while those in Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, and San Antonio, Texas, reported the lowest median spend.

While spending on kitchen renovations increased, the breadth of kitchen renovations has been scaled back compared to recent years, according to Houzz. Upgrades to countertops and sinks are not as popular as they were two years ago and structural upgrades to kitchens are more infrequent.

“It is remarkable to see median spend 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, spend increases confirm our findings of significant price inflation in the home remodeling industry due to changes in international trade policy."

Transitional and contemporary style continue to be the most popular styles for homeowners electing to change their kitchen's style. Modern style is increasing in popularity, while farmhouse style is continuing to lose steam after a surge in popularity the past two years. The dip in popularity in farmhouse kitchen style mirrors a decline in popularity for the style in bathrooms found in Houzz's Bathroom Trends Study.

While neutral palettes remain the prevailing style choice in kitchens, homeowners who upgrade their backsplashes are embracing feature walls, Houzz finds. An increasing number of homeowners are installing a backsplash that begins at the countertop and continues all the way up to the ceiling or to the upper cabinets and range hood. Ceramic or porcelain tile remains the most popular option for kitchen backsplashes, followed by marble.

While gray, white, and beige walls, wood-tone floors, and stainless steel appliances continue to define kitchen renovations, Houzz is seeing more alternative looks appear in kitchens. Blue kitchen walls are an emerging trend, appearing in 7% of upgraded kitchens, while beige flooring and black appliances appear in 9% of renovations, according to Houzz.

Countertops and Flooring
After an 11% annual growth rate from 2016 to 2018, the popularity of engineered quartz rose at a much smaller rate in 2019. Engineered quartz remains the most popular countertop material, but it experienced an growth rate of 5% year over year, according to Houzz. The slowed growth rate is likely due to increases in price for quartz imported from China.

Hardwood floors once again are the most popular flooring material after a two-year decline in market share. Hardwood likely benefited from the rising cost of wood-like materials such as engineered wood and laminate from increased tariffs and trade-related actions against Chinese materials.

"Homeowners are dealing with increasing product prices by substituting materials, as indicated by slower growth in the use of engineered quartz and a decline in the popularity of engineered flooring materials, highly impacted by tariffs on imported materials from China," Sitchinava said.

Lighting and High-Tech Features
Recessed lights remain the most popular light fixture upgrade, preferred by seven in 10 renovators. Under-cabinet lighting and pendant lighting represent the second and third most popular light fixture upgrades, according to Houzz. Over 90% of homeowners choose to upgrade lighting above kitchen islands during renovations.

While still popular, the growth in market share for high-tech faucet and appliance upgrades has slowed compared to recent years. The market share of upgraded faucets that are high tech decreased six percentage points from last year while major appliances with high-tech features saw market share decrease five percentage points year over year.

Professional Help 
Hiring of professional help for kitchen renovations has remained relatively steady in recent years, according to Houzz. Eighty-five percent of homeowners hired professional help for completing kitchen projects in 2019, up 2 percent from the previous year. The majority of homeowners who seek professional help hire general contractors, while only 11% of kitchen renovators hire kitchen remodeling specialists.

The study released by Houzz crunched numbers from a 76-question, online survey fielded between June 19 and July 2, 2019. The results of the survey analyze the responses of 2,598 registered Houzz users over the age of 18 who have either completed a kitchen renovation in the past 12 months, are currently renovating their kitchen, or are planning a renovation in the next three months. Data was reweighted using the annual Houzz & Home Study to ensure it represented the full Houzz user population.

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