The pandemic has had an impact on just about every facet of life — including what people want in their kitchens, according to the recently released Houzz Kitchen Trends Study.

Four COVID-related trends were identified in the study, which queried more than 2,000 Houzz users who had completed a kitchen remodeling or addition in the past year, were currently working on one or planned to start one within the next three months.

The study was conducted in late June/early July 2020 when the pandemic was entering its fourth month and stockpiling of food staples and household supplies was common. Not surprisingly, storage was on people's minds; 94% of kitchen projects involved at least some cabinets, and 63% replaced all cabinets. Of the 31% of homeowners who opted for partial cabinet upgrades, 28% added some cabinets, nearly a fourfold increase over the previous year.

Pantries were extremely popular — 46% of the homeowners surveyed had upgraded their pantries, and 13% had included large walk-in pantries, up from 10% in 2019.

With more people working and learning at home, open-concept floor plans have been put to the test — and been found noisy. The percentage of new kitchens open to other rooms dropped sharply, from 53% in 2019 to 43% in 2020.

The rise of pandemic-era socializing al fresco also showed up in the study. More than one in five kitchen remodels involved opening the kitchen to the outdoors.

Other takeaways from the study:


Kitchen makeovers are still pricey but costs are not escalating sharply. The median spend on a major kitchen remodel, including cabinet replacement, remained stable at $35,000; $45,000 was the median for a large kitchen and $30,000 the median for a small one.


Center islands continue to be extremely popular. More than half of homeowners who tackled a kitchen project added an island or upgraded an existing island, and nearly two-thirds (63%) of renovated kitchens include an island.

Today's islands are multi-taskers, accommodating not just casual dining and often a sink or appliance, but increased storage, as well. Among homeowners who added or upgraded an island, almost all (98%) included some storage — cabinets with doors (76%), drawers (74%) and open shelves (14%).

Favorite finishes

White continues to be the top choice for kitchen cabinets (41%) but its dominance is waning, down 4% from last year. Wood-tone cabinets were the choice of 23%, followed by gray (10%), and multicolored (9%), which has been steadily rising in popularity for the past three years.

Islands increasingly contrast in color with other cabinets, the choice of 41% of those who added or upgraded an island. Blue is the most popular choice for island cabinets, taking the lead away from gray.

And stainless steel remains the top choice for appliances, in 70% of new kitchens, followed by black stainless at 10%.

Taller backsplashes

A majority (68%) of homeowners who upgrade their backsplashes now take them all the way up to the upper cabinets or range hood, while 9% carry them all the way to the ceiling.


Engineered quartz continues to be the leading material (40%) for upgraded countertops, although that represents a sharp decline from 2019, when engineered quartz was the choice of 51%. Houzz attributes the drop to the rising cost of engineered quartz, resulting from increased tariffs on imports from China.

Today's contrasting islands are also getting contrasting countertops. One in four (24%) of upgraded islands are topped with a material different from other countertops in the kitchen. Butcher block or wood was the top choice (41%), followed by granite (16%) and engineered quartz (15%, down from 28% in 2019, also likely the result of higher costs).


Hardwood flooring, the top choice for kitchens in 2019, has fallen to No. 2 (23%). Ceramic or porcelain tile is now the top choice (24%). And vinyl flooring is on the rise, used in 19% of new kitchens, a sizable increase from 2019.

For more kitchen trends, read the complete study at

Kim Palmer • 612-673-4784