Open Layouts & Aesthetic Improvements Drive Kitchen Projects

When it comes to kitchens, bigger isn't necessarily better – at least according to a new survey conducted by, the Palo Alto, CA-based online platform for home remodeling and design.

The Fall Houzz Kitchen Remodeling Survey, which polled more than 7,500 consumers about their kitchen remodeling plans and progress, showed that while the majority of consumers aren't expanding their kitchens, they are favoring open kitchen plans.

In fact, while only one-third say they plan to expand their kitchen square footage, a whopping 77% of those polled say their kitchen remodel involves opening up the space to other rooms of the house. Consistent with the open-space design, some 61% of survey respondents note that they are incorporating an island into their kitchen design.

As far as their remodeling motivation, reasons cited were all over the map, from major life changes to natural disasters to a simple desire for an updated look. However, when asked about their primary reason for remodeling, aesthetics still topped the list, with 79% of those polled citing "an improved look and feel" as a key motivator behind their remodel (see Graph 1). However, functionality was also a strong factor, with 59% of survey respondents citing "improved function" as a primary reason for the remodel, 52% noting updated appliances and 48% saying improved storage was key.

Other factors cited as key motivators for remodeling included increasing the home's value (38%), creating an open floor plan (36%), improving the entertaining space (33%) and adapting to a changing lifestyle (23%). Less critical, yet still cited by 12% of those polled, was the desire to increase energy efficiency.

Additionally, what consumers are giving up in added size they seem to be putting into getting their dream kitchen just right, with an increasing number of homeowners choosing to do a complete remodel from the inside out. In fact, 49% of those polled say they are gutting their kitchen and starting from scratch, compared to 42% who are merely updating an existing kitchen (see Graph 2).


When it comes to the most popular kitchen features, counter surfaces are right at the forefront of consumers' minds, with 94% of those polled saying they are changing their countertops as part of the remodel. As far as the hottest countertop material choices, both granite (50%) and quartz (36%) scored high marks (see Graph 3), followed by butcher block or wood (12%), marble (10%), solid surface (9%) and laminate (9%).

For backsplashes, most consumers favor tile (50%) or glass (15%), while a small percentage match the backsplash to the countertop (6%) or go with granite (5%), marble (4%) or paint (3%), according to survey respondents (see Graph 4).

In appliances, stainless remains the hottest trend, with 65% incorporating stainless appliances, followed by 16% who are choosing integrated appliances and 12% going with white or colored appliances (see Graph 5). With a nod to the mix-and-match trend, some 7% say they are combining appliance finishes.

Cooking remains a hot trend according to the survey, which showed cooking appliances topping consumers' wish lists (see Graph 6). When asked to list their most desired appliance, a chef's stove topped consumers' lists (32%), followed by double ovens (17%), an induction cooktop (9%) and a wine refrigerator or dishwasher drawer (7% each).

In the area of flooring, hardwood and tile were the top choices, with 35% of those surveyed choosing hardwood and 32% favoring tile. Another 8% declared a preference for engineered wood, 5% chose stone, 4% selected vinyl, 3% each chose cork and linoleum and 2% chose concrete for their kitchen floor.

Among those surveyed, conservative color schemes remained dominant, with a "soft and neutral" color scheme preferred by a whopping 75% of those polled (see Graph 7). Another 14% of those polled said they favor a "bright and colorful" palette for their kitchen, and the remaining 11% said they lean toward "bold and dramatic" colors for their kitchen design.

Interestingly, while many industry insiders believe the green trend to be waning, some 49% of those polled say that using eco-friendly appliances and materials in their kitchen is important to them.


Not surprisingly, there is a strong correlation between consumers' age bracket and their design style preferences, with younger homeowners more likely to favor contemporary or modern styling, as compared to older homeowners who still lean toward a more traditional look.

In fact, 30.4% of consumers 65 and older and 28.4% of consumers age 55-64 prefer traditional styling (see Graph 8), while those in the 25-34-year-old age bracket are more likely to choose contemporary (26.1%) or modern (18.9%) designs, according to the survey results.

In the 35-44 age demo-graphic, design preferences are pretty evenly split between contemporary, traditional and modern, with contemporary having a slight edge. In the 45-54 age bracket, traditional design skews higher, at 24.2%, while those electing for modern design drops dramatically (12.2%, compared to 20% of those in the 35-44 demographic).

Interestingly, homeowners 65 and older are more likely to prefer "eclectic" design than any other age group.

The survey is one of several done this year by Houzz, which connects millions of homeowners, home improvement professionals and designers across the country and around the world to share design inspiration, project advice, product information and professional reviews.