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Kitchen Renovations: Trends, Costs and Big Ideas

Man and woman cook in newly designed kitchen- thumbnail

Your kitchen is perhaps the main focal point of your entire home. The benefits of updating it can range from improving the general comfort and atmosphere of your home to potentially increasing the value of your property.

According to a 2020 study commissioned by Houzz, an online platform for home remodeling and design, a third of homeowners actually reported living a healthier lifestyle after a kitchen renovation. That includes eating more fruits and vegetables as well as preparing more meals at home.

The cost associated with a complete remodel or kitchen renovation can add up. We’ve got some specifics below. First, though, the key takeaways about kitchen remodeling:

Recent trends in kitchen design

The study highlights include these findings:

  • Transitional and contemporary are the two most popular design styles.
  • Durability of materials and the look are the top reasons for selecting countertops and flooring, followed by cost. 
  • More than one-third of kitchen renovators are increasing the room’s size with 51 percent of kitchens more open to other rooms.

While spending your own time and effort helps limit the costs, many homeowners hire professionals to speed up the process and do the job right. The top professionals hired by homeowners renovating their kitchen are general contractors (51 percent) and kitchen designers (22 percent). And what are the main items homeowners are upgrading? Nearly all are upgrading their countertops (89 percent) and cabinets (95 percent), followed closely by backsplashes at 84 percent and sinks at 83 percent.

When should you renovate your kitchen?

The top trigger that leads homeowners to a redesign is finally having the means to do something they’d long wanted to (37 percent). This is closely followed by people who simply can no longer stand their kitchen (34 percent). Some homeowners (27 percent) unfortunately were forced to upgrade their kitchen due to deterioration or unsafe appliances.

The study highlights the benefits of a newly designed kitchen, including 49 percent of homeowners spending more time as a family and 49 percent doing more entertaining for friends and family. Those alone may be good reasons for your new kitchen, but 34 percent are also eating less takeout which is often less healthy and more expensive.

How much does a kitchen remodel cost?

In general, the overall cost of a remodel continues to rise, even as people dial back the scope of their kitchen projects. In 2019 spending was up 17 percent compared to 2018 kitchen remodels. The median cost of a major renovation project was $35,000 and a minor remodel rang up around $8,000.  And as you might expect, the initial budget homeowners planned often didn’t cover the entire cost of the project. It is important to do some research about remodeling costs in your area so that you can budget wisely.

Pro tip: Be sure you’re financially ready for your home remodel project with our Homeowner’s Financial Checklist.

Which appliances are most commonly upgraded?

Here is a quick breakdown of what homeowners are upgrading:

  • Dishwasher (75 percent)
  • Refrigerator/freezer (74 percent)
  • Microwave (72 percent)
  • Range (65 percent)
  • Garbage Disposal (51 percent)
  • Cooktop(s) (39 percent)
  • Beverage Refrigerator (15 percent)
  • Washer/dryer (12 percent)

If you’re updating appliances for the sake of energy efficiency, a green loan may help with the cost.

Popular colors, styling and finishes

While white cabinets remain the most popular at 45 percent, wood-tone cabinets now account for 22 percent of all cabinet finishes. Stainless steel continues to be the top choice for appliances coming in at 73 percent. When it comes to flooring, wood accounts for 52 percent overall with medium colored wood, gray, beige, brown, and light colored wood all being the most popular options within that.

Neutral colors remain on-trend for walls, though there is more of a variety than appliances and flooring. In fact, gray is 30 percent of all choices while 24 percent opt for white and 20 percent for beige. The trend toward blue walls seems to be growing, up to 7 percent in 2019, and surpassing all other colors.

“Custom remains king” according to the study with two in five updated kitchens including custom cabinets, a number that has held steady for several years. Semi-custom cabinets account for 36 percent as well.

For countertop decorative choices, engineered quartz has replaced granite as the darling, though its use has slowed due to rising prices. 51 percent of kitchen remodels installed quartz, compared to 29 percent utilizing granite. Marble is no longer in favor as a main countertop, though it is the choice for 7 percent of contrasting counters (like an island).

There’s a lot to think about when you renovate your kitchen. Knowing the trends and average costs is a good first step. Maybe you can start by figuring out what your wildest dreams might add up to. Then build a budget and make the smart financial and design choices to get you a gorgeous kitchen within a budget you can live with.

Curious what your dream kitchen might cost? Our home remodel cost calculator can help you get started: Estimate Remodel Costs