Survey Reveals Wish Lists for Kitchen Designs

DUBLIN, IRELAND — While the kitchen is clearly the “hub” of the American home, it continues to evolve from being a functional place in the home used to prepare meals into a true center for family life.

That’s the conclusion of a recently conducted survey of some 10,000 consumers, more than 800 of whom remodeled their kitchens (see related Editorial).

The survey, whose results were released last month by the Dublin, Ireland-based research firm Research and Markets Ltd., includes data on lifestyles, kitchen product shopping and purchasing patterns, as well kitchen remodeling details, media consumption and trends in consumer tastes and preferences.

According to the survey’s results, almost one-third of American consumers now see their kitchen as a place where a variety of activities take place.

“Increasingly, people socialize, take medicines, manage their household, and care for pets in their kitchen,” said Laura Wood, a spokesperson for the survey.

According to Wood, surveyed homeowners described their ideal kitchen as “organized,” “comfortable,” “open,” “warm,” “light,” “happy” and “homey” – all key words to use in designing products and marketing them.

People describe their kitchen before a remodel or improvement as “boring,” “cluttered,” “dark” and “confining,” she noted.
“Clearly, the key driver behind kitchen remodels is that the current kitchen is out of date,” she said.

The survey also revealed that mid-market and high-end remodeling consumers relate to their kitchens somewhat differently and have differing opinions on a number of kitchen-remodeling concepts. Mid-market remodeling consumers see their kitchens as more functional places, and generally describe their ideal kitchen as “warm” and “calming.” In contrast, high-end consumers are more likely to see their kitchens as centers of entertainment and describe their ideal kitchen as “gourmet.”

Researchers said that the survey revealed that nearly all kitchen remodeling projects produce a few “surprises” for homeowners. The most frequently mentioned are how long the project took to complete and how much it cost.

Researchers also found that more than three out of 10 remodelers said they would spend more money on a kitchen remodel if they had to do it over, while only 7% said they would spend less. Of those who would spend more, the key things they would do differently next time are upgrading the cabinets and increasing the size of the kitchen.

Among the survey’s other key findings are the following:

  • Busy lifestyles prevent the vast majority of people from preparing all of their meals at home every day. Only one-third of Americans fix breakfast at home every day, yet nearly three quarters frequently prepare dinner at home (5+ times a week).
  • While the microwave has become an essential tool in the kitchen, the majority use it for the main dinner dish two days a week or less frequently, and dinner is rarely prepared from scratch.
  • The popularity of kitchen islands continues, with the number-one design feature on the wish list of survey participants being a central island cooktop.
  • The number one appliance upgrade desired in an “ideal” kitchen is a cooktop that features a built-in grill, wok, griddle or rotisserie attachment. Also strongly desired are commercial-grade appliances, a larger dishwasher to accommodate a wide variety of dishes, and a double oven.