Tips: What’s hot in kitchen renovations right now

By Lynn Underwood
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)


For the first time, quartz countertops have surpassed stone, according to the 2019 Houzz Kitchen Trends Study. (Dreamstime)

Engineered quartz and natural stone have long battled for the countertop crown in the kitchen.

For the first time, quartz has surpassed stone, according to the 2019 Houzz Kitchen Trends Study.

When renovating homeowners upgraded their countertops, 48 percent picked quartz and 45 percent chose stone, such as granite.

“Engineered quartz comes in every color, texture and pattern imaginable and is very versatile — from installation to durability,” said Nino Sitchinava, Houzz principal economist.

Houzz, the uber-popular online resource where users click and scrutinize thousands of home design photos, compiled the results from a 60-question survey of 1,337 registered Houzz users about their recent or planned kitchen renovations.

Overall, the study didn’t reveal any big surprises, said Sitchinava. “We’re still seeing a steady trend toward open white kitchens, custom or semi-custom cabinetry, storage galore and stainless-steel appliances.”

But an emerging appliance finish is gaining momentum. Black stainless steel now covers one in 10 new appliances.

When cool, cutting-edge stainless steel was introduced about 20 years ago, it caught on like wildfire, said Sitchinava. “Now some of us are ready for a more stark contrast to the white cabinetry, and manufacturers are meeting the demand in mid-tier and lower-end appliances,” she said.

So what do all these upgrades and updates typically cost? The national median spent is $33,000 to remodel a 200-plus-square-foot kitchen in which at least all the cabinets and appliances are replaced within the existing footprint, Houzz reported.

Here are more findings from the U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study:

What triggers a kitchen renovation: The top reason is “Can no longer stand the old kitchen.” Homeowners (34 percent) remodel for their own enjoyment rather than making improvements for upcoming resale (7 percent).

Wide open spaces: More than half of renovations are designed to open the kitchen to nearby rooms. “The kitchen isn’t just for cooking and dining — it’s the hub of the home, and that’s not going to change,” said Sitchinava.

With work areas, office nooks, bars and peninsulas, it’s essential to integrate the kitchen with adjoining living spaces, she said. “And it’s the most expensive room in the house, so people want to show off their investment.”

Farmhouse style gaining steam: For the 82 percent of renovating homeowners who change their kitchen style, farmhouse (14 percent) is just behind contemporary (15 percent), with transitional (a blend of traditional and contemporary) the top look (21 percent).

White and gray still reign: White remains locked in as the top cabinetry color (43 percent), followed by wood (25 percent). But 10 percent of new cabinets are now painted gray.

Crisp white countertops are gaining momentum, with nearly one in three upgraded counters done in shades of white. White and gray appear on half of upgraded backsplashes and walls combined.

Kitchen refresher: Countertops are the No. 1 element (93 percent) to get replaced, followed by backsplashes (87 percent), sinks (85 percent) and all-new appliances (54 percent).

Mixed metals: Matchy-matchy is dull. More than half of homeowners are mixing metal finishes in cabinet hardware and plumbing fixtures. Popular picks are brushed or satin nickel, oil-rubbed bronze and matte black.

“Stylistic surprises are in the details,” said Sitchinava. “Homeowners feel more liberated mixing finishes.”

Engineered materials: Engineered quartz (48 percent) has surpassed natural stone in popularity. Engineered flooring, such as wood, vinyl and laminate, has become nearly twice as popular (40 percent) as natural hardwood (24 percent).

Superior shaker: When upgrading cabinets, shaker style, which includes recessed panel doors, is still the top cabinet door style (57 percent), with flat-panel a very distant second (19 percent).

Brick-pattern backsplash: Ceramic and porcelain tile are still the most popular picks (55 percent), and natural stone is second (34 percent). The classic brick pattern rules because it’s “aesthetically pleasing and easy to install with minimal waste,” said Sitchinava.

Aging in place: Not surprisingly, more than a third of baby boomers (38 percent) focused on future needs during their kitchen renovation, making spaces larger and more open, and equipped with bright lighting, touch-free faucets and elaborate cooktops and wall ovens.

Tech transformation: Technology is playing a more prominent role in the kitchen, with voice- and wireless-control features in refrigerators, ovens and other appliances, said Sitchinava. More than half (57 percent) of upgraded faucets are high-tech, with efficient water flow and touch-free activation.

Who does the work? More than 8 in 10 homeowners hire some professional help for their projects. The top four hires are general contractor (50 percent), kitchen designer (20 percent), interior designer (14 percent) and architect (12 percent).