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Top Takeaways From the 2021 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study

Storage is a major focus, the open-concept floor plan is losing steam, and project scope is scaling back.

Erin Carlyle

JANUARY 12, 2021

With homes top of mind as people spend more time in them, homeowners remodeling their kitchens are transforming these spaces for the way we live now, according to new research from Houzz. That includes upgrading cabinetry to create the right storage. Homeowners also are less likely to turn their kitchens into open-concept spaces (where the kitchen is open to other spaces). And they’re seeking a connection in their renovated kitchens to the outdoors.

Read on for more details on these and other kitchen remodeling trends in our recap of the 2021 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study.

Kitchen Storage Is a Major Focus

Nearly all homeowners (94%) renovating their kitchens improve the cabinetry in some way, according to the report. Most (63%) are replacing the cabinets entirely, while 1 in 3 opts for a partial cabinet upgrade.

“Storage has really come into focus as people have spent more time at home during the pandemic,” says Liza Hausman, vice president of Industry Marketing at Houzz. “We’re seeing an increase in the amount of cabinetry added in renovations. And more homeowners are reaching out to professionals on Houzz for help making their kitchens work better, most often within the same layout and square footage.”

Of the 31% of renovating homeowners choosing partial cabinet upgrades, 28% add at least some new cabinetry to the renovated kitchen — nearly four times as many as in the previous year. Others opting to partially upgrade their cabinets are refinishing the exteriors or replacing doors only.

The share of renovating homeowners adding or upgrading a pantry space also increased, with 46% upgrading their pantry cabinets, up 3 percentage points from the prior year. The share of renovating homeowners adding a walk-in pantry grew to 13%, up from 10% the year before.

Open-Concept Kitchens Lose Appeal — Except When They Open to the Outdoors

The share of renovating homeowners opening their kitchens to create open-concept floor plans (43%) dropped significantly this year compared with two years ago (53%). (An open-concept kitchen is open to other spaces.) Many people have experienced the downsides of this setup while they’ve been home during the pandemic, often with two partners working at home as kids attend virtual school from home.

While a smaller share of remodeling homeowners want their kitchens to be open to other indoor spaces, more than 1 in 5 are choosing to open their kitchens to the outdoors. That’s consistent with a steady trend we’ve seen on Houzz of increased demand for outdoor home professionals.

Demand for Home Design and Remodeling Soars Amid the Pandemic

Renovating homeowners are continuing to seek out neutral tones for their remodeled spaces. The top colors for upgraded cabinets in renovated kitchens are white (41%), medium wood tones (13%) and gray (10%). Neutrals are also trending for kitchen walls, with gray (28%), white (26%) and beige (21%) the top picks.

Still, some homeowners are introducing more colorful alternatives to their kitchen walls, like blue (7%) or green (4%). Some are bringing color in through backsplashes or appliances. White may be the top backsplash color pick (37%), but nearly 1 in 5 of those upgrading their backsplashes chooses a multicolored option. And 1 in 10 upgrading appliances chooses black stainless steel, while another 6% are selecting black appliances in another material.

Kitchen Islands Stand Out

While neutrals are popular for wall cabinetry, many renovating homeowners (41%) are choosing contrasting colors for their kitchen island cabinets. Blue (27%) and gray (20%) are the top contrasting color picks among those who choose a contrasting island color, whereas just 13% are choosing these colors for their main cabinetry.

Median Spend Is Flat as Remodeling Scope Decreases

A large share of renovating homeowners are upgrading major kitchen features like countertops (88%), backsplashes (83%) and sinks (80%) during their kitchen remodels. That said, for the third year in a row, homeowners are scaling back project scope. For instance, a smaller share of homeowners are upgrading their light fixtures (74%) and appliances (51%) compared with the previous year (79% and 56%, respectively).

Meanwhile, the median spend on major kitchen remodels — those in which all the cabinets and appliances are replaced — completed in mid-2020 stayed steady from the previous year at $35,000. This number reflects all project types, both with and without professional help.

The median refers to the midpoint spending level nationally, self-reported by homeowners. Because it is the midpoint, it indicates that half of renovating homeowners spent more, while half spent less.

The 2021 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study gathered information from 2,014 Houzz users who reported that they were homeowners age 18 or older who had completed a kitchen remodel or addition in the past 12 months, were currently working on one or were planning to start one in the next three months. The survey was fielded in June and July 2020.

Download the full study here

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Comments (3)

Join the conversation by commenting or asking a question below. The Houzz team reads every single comment, and we’ll get back to you by email if you need us!

  • PRO
    Michael Storm
    last year

    Thank you for the useful information. It is really very important to have a comfortable atmosphere when you have to spend a lot of time at home.

  • PRO
    SILA Design
    2 years ago

    I would like to know the same, Tracy. I think with families spending more time at home, it would make sense that more division vs open floor plan would be more desirable.

  • PRO
    Vignette Coeur d'Alene
    2 years ago

    I'm curious if some homeowners are actually adding walls to bring back separation of space.

    Tracy Byer

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