Website survey reveals younger homeowners prefer a contemporary look. Over 45s still lean traditional.
What does your dream kitchen look like?
Sleek and modern — or Old World charm?
Your age offers a clue as to which look tantalizes your visual tastebuds, according to a new survey. Younger homeowners tend to drool over contemporary kitchens, while older homeowners prefer a traditional look. That finding surprised Liza Hausman, vice president of community for Houzz, the home and remodeling website that recently released its first “Fall Kitchen Trends Study.”
“I didn’t expect to see such a breakdown by age,” Hausman said. “I think it’s a shift.”
The Houzz survey, based on more 7,800 responses, showed a distinct, age-related progression, with the youngest homeowners (ages 25 to 34) most likely to describe their style as “contemporary” or “modern” and the oldest homeowners (ages 65 and up) most likely to describe their style as “traditional.” The shifting point appears to be the mid-40s, with “traditional” the top choice for homeowners over 45, and “contemporary” the preferred look for those under 45. The study was national, but a similar style shift also is emerging in the Twin Cities, according to some local designers.
“I would totally agree with that,” said interior designer Mary Rossi of Minneapolis-based Mary Rossi Designs, who reports less demand for the elaborate trophy kitchens of years past. “The younger generation isn’t so taken with trappings, and don’t want palatial homes to take care of. They want a simpler, cleaner, uncluttered life” — expressed in a desire for simple, clean-lined design.
Most Minnesotans undertaking kitchen makeovers are now seeking a “transitional” look that combines elements of traditional and contemporary design, said Charlie Simmons, president and principal of design at Charlie & Co. Design Ltd., Minneapolis. A blended style allows homeowners to update the look of their kitchens without clashing with the style of their existing house, he said.
He still frequently designs projects that are “traditional, bordering on historic preservation,” he said, even for some young clients. But he’s also seeing increased interest in modern style. During the design process, clients share photos of homes they like, many of them contemporary, he noted. “Then they say, ‘We love this stuff, but we don’t want to do it. We don’t want to stick out.’ This is a sophisticated community that appreciates new ideas, but when it comes to home, people are afraid to do something their friends don’t have.” But their friends may be more receptive to cutting-edge style than they realize. “What I find interesting is that as soon as a contemporary home hits the market, it’s gone.”
Some elements of contemporary kitchen design, such as open-concept floor plans, are now so widely popular that they’re being incorporated into the majority of new kitchens. In the Houzz study, 77 percent of those surveyed said their new kitchens will be open to other rooms.
Light, bright colors and materials are also widely used in kitchen projects. The most popular color schemes are “soft and neutral,” chosen by 75 percent, with “bright and colorful” chosen by 14 percent, and “bold and dramatic” colors by 11 percent.
White and off-white remain the most popular colors for cabinets. “People love the white kitchens,” Hausman said.
Granite and quartz are still the top countertop materials, but when younger homeowners opt for granite, they’re more likely to choose a matte finish than a shiny, glossy one, Rossi said.
Solid-surface countertops, such as Corian, also are making a comeback, according to Simmons. “This is not your mom’s Corian,” he noted.
The material now comes in a greater array of thicknesses and is being used in new ways. In an Edina house recently featured on the Remodelers Showcase, Simmons topped a large kitchen island with bright-white Corian that also cascades down the side, offering a clean, unbroken expanse of white that reflects light.
“It’s so bright and cheerful,” said Abby Powers, owner of the house.
“Our taste is modern, and we like clean lines. If we didn’t have kids, we’d live in a glass box on a cliff somewhere.”
But with two school-age boys, Powers wanted to warm up the kitchen with walnut-stained wood cabinets and darker wood floors. The space combines different hues and materials, she said.
With the room completely open to the family room, “we wanted it to look more like furniture pieces, not like a kitchen,” she said. “It’s kind of a risky thing to do, mixing white and dark and medium, and stainless steel, marble, Corian and brown Caesarstone. There’s a lot of stuff going on.”
More mix-and-match surfaces
Many homeowners today are taking a similar approach, according to the Houzz survey. “The trend is toward more mix-and-match surfaces,” Hausman said. Homeowners are still choosing stainless-steel appliances, but increasingly combining them with white or colored appliances, or appliances integrated into cabinetry.
“Stainless is still strong, but the trend is away from all stainless,” she said. And many homeowners also are mixing countertop materials, choosing one surface for the island and a complementary surface for the other countertops.
So if you’re planning a kitchen makeover, should you go contemporary with an eye to resale to younger homebuyers? Most people remodel their kitchens for their own use and enjoyment rather than resale, Hausman said, but if you’re thinking of selling in the not-too-distant future, “it might be something to consider.”
Kim Palmer • 612-673-4784