The Super Kitchen | March 2017 | Newsletter

Recent research shows what homeowners want in this crucial room

Although the design of a custom home is a personal statement, most people give at least some thought to market appeal. For this, the most important aspect is the kitchen.

A great kitchen adds real value. A November 2016 article on Realtor.com reported that 69 percent of its home listings make the kitchen a central selling point and that homes with luxury kitchens sell eight percent faster than comparable ones in the same ZIP code.

Those luxury kitchens are hot. For its 2016 Kitchen Trends Survey, Houzz.com asked 2,700 homeowners about their product and design preferences and found strong demand for “super kitchens” that serve as the center of family life. The reason? Nearly two-thirds of homeowners spend three or more hours per day in the kitchen on activities that include cooking, dining, and entertaining.

With the range of activities going on in kitchens, people are adding more features than ever. These include dining tables, homework spaces, TVs, wine refrigerators, and built-in coffee makers.

And with the growing popularity of decks and other outdoor spaces, nearly two-thirds of homeowners want kitchens that open to those spaces, whether that opening is a sliding glass wall system or just a single entry door.

Who Wants What

Of course, these preferences aren’t monolithic. For instance, the Realtor.com article noted that they vary at least somewhat by region, with people in New England more likely to spend money on large kitchens than Midwesterners, who put greater emphasis on affordability and efficient layout. And homeowners in the Southeast are more apt to settle for a smaller kitchen if that means they can keep a formal dining room.

What homeowners want also varies by age group, especially when it comes to design styles. Millennial homeowners (ages 25 to 34) tend to be fans of contemporary and farmhouse styling while baby boomers (ages 55 and older) are drawn more to traditional designs. Millennials also spend more on pantry cabinets or islands, which are part of that farmhouse aesthetic.

Color choices vary by age group as well. “Younger buyers are more likely to keep resale value in mind and tend to choose neutral wall colors and white cabinets,” says Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz. “White also lightens up the kitchen and makes it feel bigger.”

When it comes to surface materials, homeowners value durability and ease of use. They want countertops that can take the heat of a hot pan, and flooring they can stand on for long periods without fatigue. Virtually all are interested in built-in storage, with homeowners prioritizing this “over all other functions of their kitchens,” according to the study.

Finally, while some appliance manufacturers are touting high-tech features, homeowners seem underwhelmed–a mere five percent opt for an oven they can control remotely from their smartphone. Durability and looks are more important, with 72 percent of homeowners opting for stainless steel. It seems like some things never go out of style.