Countertops Seen as Top Priority During Kitchen Renovations

PALO ALTO, CA — Homeowners are making room in their kitchen remodeling budget to prioritize large, multi-functional countertops, in part as a response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on American lifestyles, a major new study has found.

According to the 2022 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study, more than one-third of surveyed homeowners (35%) reportedly “splurged” on countertops, which were upgraded by more than nine in 10 homeowners, the most common feature improved during kitchen renovations.

“It is clear that homeowners are willing to spend a little more to get exactly what they want in countertops that are both beautiful and practical, despite rising prices of labor, products and materials,” said Marine Sargsyan, senior economist for the Palo Alto, CA-based online platform for home renovation and design.

“We’re seeing a rise in overall kitchen renovation spend as homeowners not only splurge on specific features but also make major modifications to the kitchen layout, systems and walls,” Sargsyan said.

When it comes to choosing new kitchen countertops, homeowners opt for materials based on the look and feel, durability and ease of cleaning, rather than cost, said Houzz, whose recent online survey was conducted among nearly 2,400 U.S. Houzz users who are in the midst of, are planning, or recently completed a kitchen renovation.

Engineered quartz and granite are the most popular countertop materials (42% and 24%, respectively), despite tariff and pandemic-induced price increases, Houzz reported. Of the more than one in five renovating homeowners who select an island countertop material that contrasts from their primary countertops, over one-third choose butcher block or wood slab. Aesthetically, homeowners increasingly choose white for their countertops during renovations.

The median amount spent for both major and minor kitchen remodels increased in mid-2021 by 14% to $40,000 and by 25% to $10,000, respectively, compared to 2020, Houzz said. The median amount spent for a major kitchen remodel of a large kitchen (250 sq. ft. or more), continued to climb for the fourth consecutive year, to $50,000, up from $45,000 the previous year. The median amount spent on a major small kitchen remodel (less than 250 sq. ft.), increased as well, up to $35,000 in mid-2021 from $30,000 in mid-2020, Houzz reported.

Among other survey findings:

  • Appliances Get a Boost from High-Tech Features: Appliances are the second most common feature that homeowners splurge on during kitchen renovations (27%). Over a third of upgraded appliances include high-tech features, up six percentage points from the previous year. The most popular kitchen appliance features are wireless and smartphone controls (26%), up eight percentage points from 2021.
  • Beverage Refrigerators Abound: Nearly one in five homeowners are incorporating beverage refrigerators in their renovated kitchens, and 14% are adding wine refrigerators. “This may be connected to the increase in homeowners who use their kitchens for entertaining (56%), up four percentage points over the past year,” Houzz said.
  • Large Islands Popular: Following a kitchen renovation, one in five homeowners say that a top activity at their island is work, up 4% from 2021. Homeowners are making space for this activity, with nearly two in five islands stretching more than 7 feet in length, up five percentage points from last year. Homeowners are also making the space brighter, with the vast majority installing new light fixtures above islands (92 percent).
  • White and Gray Prevail as Top Colors: White continues to lead as the top choice for kitchen cabinets, backsplashes and walls. Gray is the most common alternative to white, with 27% of renovating homeowners painting kitchen walls gray, 13% installing gray flooring, and 11% opting for a gray backsplash.