PLYMOUTH MEETING, PA — The kitchen truly is the heart of the home for people around the world, although many homeowners wish they could upgrade their current kitchen – in part, perhaps, because kitchen happiness seems tied to overall family well-being.
That’s the key result of a worldwide Gallup survey into kitchen use commissioned by home furnishings retailer IKEA. The survey, whose results were released last month, was conducted via telephone and through in-person interviews with 14,000 people in 28 countries, including the U.S. Respondents were asked about general kitchen use, habits, needs and wants.
According to the survey’s results, nearly 60% of respondents across the globe cited the kitchen as one of the two most important rooms in the home. Despite the importance of the space, however, more than half the respondents (57%) expressed dissatisfaction with their kitchen, and said they wish they could get a new one, researchers reported.
Nearly a fourth of worldwide respondents spend more time in the kitchen than any other place in the home, with uses and activities expanding far beyond cooking, the survey found. In fact, only 24% of respondents use the kitchen solely for the preparation of food. By comparison, 35% use the kitchen regularly for family discussions, 35% use it for socializing and entertaining, 16% for hobbies, and 15% for playing with children, the survey concluded.
As respondents grow older, the kitchen becomes increasingly more significant, the survey also found. In fact, after the age of 35, the kitchen beats out the bedroom in importance for both singles and married people.
“Clearly, the kitchen has practical importance in everyday living, but our survey really demonstrated that the kitchen can be a key factor in the happiness of the home,” said IKEA design specialist Janice Simonsen. “We found a strong connection between overall satisfaction with the kitchen and harmony in relationships with spouses and children.”
Respondents in countries with a significantly high kitchen satisfaction also expressed the greatest overall family happiness. For example, respondents in the Netherlands – who indexed at the top of kitchen satisfaction (75 out of 100) – expressed the highest satisfaction with their spouses and children of any other country. In contrast, Russians, who indexed near the bottom of the list for overall kitchen satisfaction, seem to be the least happy with their family relationships.
Americans expressed average satisfaction with their kitchens and family relationships, researchers noted.
“Respondents told us over and over that their dream kitchen is a pleasant space for spending time with others,” said Simonsen. “A full 57% of those surveyed worldwide would re-do their kitchen if money were no object.”
Fifty-four percent of people who are unhappy with their kitchen say they wouldn’t change it because the task seems too overwhelming, researchers added.
Women across the globe define their ideal kitchen as a “cozy and warm” meeting place, while men seek a space fully loaded with gadgets and electronics, according to the survey’s findings.
The most coveted kitchen feature worldwide is an island – 41% of the survey respondents say they would add one if they could, according to the IKEA research. And, those with an island in their kitchen are twice as likely to be happy with the space as those without one, researchers found, noting that additional counter and storage space is also high on the list of desired features.
Among other survey results were the following:
- Women worldwide do 77% of all cooking, and 84% of the cooking in households that contain children. Only 15% of men, single or married, cook at all.
- Women in the U.S. spend about an hour longer in the kitchen each day, than men.
- 44% of worldwide respondents eat dinner in the kitchen while watching television.
The survey was conducted as part of IKEA’s effort to showcase its kitchen offerings, which include appliances, furniture accessories and a computerized design program to assist consumers in planning and budgeting, according to the company.