People want big kitchens, but aren’t really interested in having others over

2016 houzz and home survey kitchens jeff pelletier box remodel kitchen04
Board & Vellum/John Wilbanks
It’s cliché to say that the kitchen is the center of the home, but we’re going to do it anyway — if only because two recent surveys prove the old axiom.

Last week, Ikea released its Life at Home report, based on its survey of 12,000 residents of Berlin, London, Mumbai, New York, Shanghai, Toronto, and five other cities. Today, the Houzz & Home survey of more than 120,000 U.S. respondents came out, detailing the remodeling and decorating site’s findings on 2015 renovations.

Not only is the kitchen the third-largest room in many homes (behind living rooms and master bedrooms), it’s where the bulk of remodeling money goes. Those with kitchens over 200 square feet spent an average of $28,800 updating the room; those with smaller kitchens averaged around half that, according to Houzz.

Expensive appliances, spendy materials for countertops, plumbing, and electricity all likely contribute to those high prices, but Ikea’s survey might shed some light on why so many people make the kitchen the focal point. Sixty-three percent of respondents said they “cook to create the feeling of home.” Tech comes into play, because the survey found that even though people were eating alone, they would actually connect with family and friends via video to create a virtual, collective dining experience.

Maybe that’s why the Ikea report found that 23 percent of those surveyed would rather have good Wi-Fi than a gathering space for friends in their homes, and 19 percent said keeping connected with friends online is more important than inviting them over. Who needs someone making more dirty dishes when you can stay in your own homes and Skype in a dinner party?

“The idea of people watching TV with five people on the sofa is dead,” Chris Baumann, an organization and technology expert, said in the report.

About a quarter of those renovating updated the plumbing or electrical system, but 19 percent added or upgraded a home automation service. Back in 2014, only about 13 percent of homes had at least one smart-home device, according to one survey, and Houzz indicates that it’s the young ones (those aged 24 to 35) who are most likely to buy into home automation right now, though it was only 26 percent of them.

Demographics are definitely something to consider with this data. The majority of Houzz’s respondents make over $100,000 a year and live in a single-family home that’s larger than 2,000 square feet. Maybe that’s why the average remodeled kitchen was 250 square feet: Try fitting that in your 650-square-foot condo.

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