Most Homeowners Plan Fall Home Improvement Projects

More than half (52 percent) of homeowners plan to make a home improvement or addition this fall, according to the Zillow Digs Fall Home Improvement Trend and Spending Survey, compared with 60 percent in the summer; homeowners plan to spend $1,000, which is $200 less than during the summer.

While the percentage of homeowners planning remodels for nearly every room fell from the summer survey, homeowners will continue to focus on home office or playroom remodels in the fall.

"Fall is a perfect transition time from outdoor to indoor activities, which is resonating in home improvement plans and trends. Parents are sprucing up indoor play areas to keep the kids active and occupied, while looking for ways to update their own workspaces for the season ahead as workdays are shortened by kid pick-up and drop-off duty," noted Cynthia Nowak, Zillow Digs trend expert.

Double-duty home offices
As the line between work and home continues to blur, homeowners are looking for quiet and clean spaces where they can wrap up leftover projects from the office or work from home during those rainy fall days. Six percent of homeowners said they would work on their home offices this fall, compared with 4 percent during the summer.

In addition to the survey, members of the recently formed Zillow Digs Board of Designers, which provides Zillow Digs users insight into unique and current trends in home design, shared their experiences and advice on fall remodels. For home offices, the majority are designing home office spaces for dual purposes, whether adding a daybed for napping, a desk doubling as a guest bedroom nightstand or a mini kitchen for the home office coffee pot.

Kerrie Kelly of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab in Sacramento, Calif., recommends: "If your guest room must do double duty, look for furniture that keeps the room from being too businesslike, such as an office armoire, chests, cabinets, side tables and creative storage solutions that look pretty, too. A good- looking, uncluttered space is the best remedy for the chaos of a typical office. We find many people requesting a Murphy bed situation to provide a multi-functional space."

Mara Miller of Carrier and Company Interiors Ltd. in New York City says: "As laptops and tablets become more popular we're free to use more vintage furnishings than desks customized to contain a computer. For serious home offices, we're also installing a lot of coffee bars to reduce trips to the kitchen and grazing while working from home."

Active playrooms for fall
Indoor play doesn't have to just mean puzzles and tea parties. Families want play spaces that keep the little ones climbing, sliding, swinging and jumping as well as nearby areas for adults to stay active such as a workout area or pool table, according to the majority of Zillow Digs Board of Designers. Three percent of homeowners said they would work on playrooms this fall, compared with 2 percent during the summer.

For playrooms, the designers generally advise creating gender-neutral spaces that everyone can enjoy, with durable, eco-friendly materials such as carpet tiles and no-VOC paint.

David Scott of David Scott Interiors in New York City says: "Playrooms incorporating the mind and body are increasingly popular. I like to incorporate murals, which invite children to explore and stimulate their imagination, as well as an active area. A recent playroom remodel featured gymnastic rings, a climbing wall and a punching bag, while in another I commissioned an artist to decoupage a pingpong table."

Garrison Hullinger of Garrison Hullinger Interior Design in Portland, Ore., recommends: "Make sure the space is practical and can be converted to a general-use room after it's had its day as a playroom."

Fall colors for work and play
Marc Thee of Marc-Michaels Interior Design, Inc. in Winter Park, Fla., expects a number of home office and playroom projects this fall, and has color advice for both:

  • The dark office days are over because they were feeling like dark caves. The lighter tones are better for keeping the mood up during work hours. Our favorite hues for a home office are neutral menswear colors: warm graphite, rich palominos, bone, limestone and greyed lavender for a woman's office. 
  • For playrooms, we use grape, oranges and slate colors. Chalkboard paint also is a huge trend, allowing boys and girls to express their creativity on the walls of the playroom.

Households with children plan to spend more and take on more projects
Homes with children are significantly more likely to be planning three or more home improvements (31 percent) vs. households without children (19 percent). Homes with children plan to spend a median of $1,500 on fall home improvement projects, while homeowners in general as well as homes without children plan to spend $1,000, $200 less than summer.

Overall, younger homeowners and homes with children are significantly more likely to be planning a home improvement or addition this fall, similar to summer findings.

  • 18-to-34-year-olds: 67 percent (summer: 71 percent) 
  • 35-to-54-year-olds: 52 percent (61 percent) 
  • 55 and older: 45 percent (51 percent) 
  • Homes with children: 65 percent (65 percent) 
  • Homes without children: 48 percent (57 percent)

More than one-third of homeowners find inspiration online
The survey also looked at the top sources of ideas and inspiration for home improvement and found online sources are the most popular at 39 percent overall, with nearly half (48 percent) of younger homeowners and 47 percent of homes with children finding inspiration online.