Consumers spending more on kitchen and bath changes
Wednesday, April 06, 2016
Several recent homeowner surveys confirm what kitchen and bath professionals already know. Regardless of age or income, consumers are willing to spend more money to enhance their kitchen or bathroom than on any other room in the house.
The surveys also reveal that different subgroups have different priorities and preferences. That information can help designers and kitchen and bath remodelers tailor their marketing and service offerings to particular clientele.
Investigating how the homebuyer preferences of the baby boomer generation compare with those of millennials, Gen Xers and seniors, the National Association of Home Builders found what homeowners of all ages covet most is a laundry room, with half of all respondents listing it as "essential" and 42 percent as "desirable." It topped the list for millennials, Gen Xers and seniors, and was the third choice of boomers.
Also high on the list were Energy Star appliances. They were the first choice of boomers and came in second with Gen Xers and seniors. Of lower priority but still within the NAHB's "most wanted" list were table space for eating in the kitchen and a walk-in pantry.
Within subgroups, millennials were the only group that selected a bathroom with a shower stall and tub (possibly a standalone tub) as a top choice. As might be expected, boomers and seniors both chose a full bathroom on the main floor of the home as either "essential" or "desirable." Seniors also ranked highly a table space for eating in the kitchen and a double (side-by-side) sink.
At the higher end of the income scale, kitchens and baths continue to get the most attention in new construction and major remodels, according to the American Institute of Architects' Home Design Trends Survey, conducted in the fourth quarter of 2015. Kitchens take pride of place in today's homes as the hub of household activity, the center for family interaction, socializing and entertaining, as well as food preparation and informal dining.
"Because kitchens are so central to the home, people feel it's important to spend time and money selecting materials and appliances that reflect who they are and make them feel good," commented Dawn Zuber, Chair of the AIA's Custom Residential Architects Network.
The current trend, the AIA reports, is toward the kitchen as the technology hub of the home as well. Increasing in popularity over the past year are built-in charging stations for electrical devices, computer workstations and high-end "smart" appliances.
Convenience, comfort and accessibility reign in upscale bathrooms. AIA residential architects report increased requests for larger, walk-in showers or shower stalls without tubs. Adaptability and/or universal design remain a concern for about two-thirds of these homeowners, especially in remodels and upgrades. Also high on their list is radiant floor heating.
Homeowners with tighter budgets are leaning toward more aesthetic upgrades, finds the latest "Kitchen & Bath: A Consumer Experience" study conducted by Meredith Corp.'s Luxury Home Design Group. Slightly more than half of homeowners surveyed plan to replace their kitchen countertops, while about 1 in 4 plans to replace fixtures and or flooring.
About half are planning to change out faucets and/or sinks in the bathroom, replace flooring or upgrade cabinets. More than half of all respondents are going to repaint the kitchen and/or bathroom.
Consumers surveyed said they were intrigued by "smart" products but knew little about them. They also expressed interest in practical and convenient items, such as mirrors that don't steam up in the bathroom, upper cabinets that lower with the touch of a button, automated heated flooring and voice-activated products.
These surveys indicate there is an eager and varied market for kitchen and bath services at present. Although budgets vary, consumers are seeking the assistance of professionals to help guide them through the dizzying array of products available and to transform their current rooms into attractive, convenient and functional spaces they can enjoy for years to come.
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