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Millennials Driving Changes in Home Design

Monday, January 27, 2020

From Vincent Salandro, Remodeling

All-white kitchens and farmhouse style, two trends that achieved great popularity in the late 2010s, are falling out of favor with homeowners, according to a new survey by private builder Ashton Woods. The survey, Ashton Woods 2020 National Homebuyer Survey, set out to identify clear trends in what homeowners want in their next home in terms of layout, design, style, materials, and finishes.

The survey found millennials and generation X homeowners are facilitating the demise of traditional styles and the introduction of more bold design choices. Bold choices increasingly promote personalization in homes, a growing trend observed by experts at Ashton Woods.

Farmhouse Loses Footing

The appeal of farmhouse style both inside and outside the home, launched into popularity by its widespread use in HGTV program "Fixer Upper," is waning, according to Ashton Woods. Overall, homeowners more strongly prefer craftsman style in their homes as well as New Industrial style, which features warm accents such as natural wood cabinets paired with contrasting elements such as dark painted fireplace and decorative iron elements. Baby boomers expressed the highest preference for contemporary style, while millennials and generation Xers preferred craftsman style.

“We are seeing the farmhouse style, that returned homeowners back to a more simplistic feel at the beginning of this decade, fall in popularity,” said Jay Kallos, senior vice president of architecture for Ashton Woods. “Homeowners are now moving forward with eclectic designs that combine elements from different styles instead of focusing solely on one.”

All-White Appeal Fading

The survey also found painted cabinets are losing popularity among homeowners. Instead, homeowners prefer stained options, including natural-stained wood-look cabinets, dark-stained cabinets, and gray-stained cabinets. Ashton Woods finds homeowner preferences are increasingly shifting away from all-white cabinets, a trend that has dominated kitchens for the better part of the past ten years.

“The natural wood look is making its way across the entire home – with more natural or stained wood becoming popular for cabinets and flooring in addition to furniture and decorative elements such as shelving and mantles," said Leigh Spicher, national director of design studios at Ashton Woods. "Homeowners are also opting for materials that not only look beautiful in their home but also are functional in upkeep and durability.”

Top Kitchen Priorities

More than half of respondents would prioritize luxury features in the kitchen over all other areas of the home, according to Ashton Woods. While a majority of respondents cook often and spend a large amount of time in the kitchen, around half expressed dissatisfaction with the size and style of their current kitchen.

While a majority of participants preferred the traditional style of upper and lower cabinets, around 20% of respondents want to ditch lower cabinets and replace them with larger, accessible drawers. Natural wood, dark-stained, and distressed wood are among the most popular options for cabinetry style.

Partcipants are most interested in the stain resistance, durability, and maintenance of countertop materials rather than aesthetics. However, around 60% of homeowners would consider colorful kitchen appliances to add a bold aesthetic element to the kitchen. Colorful appliances were most appealing to homeowners in the millennial and generation X cohorts.

Flooring Preferences

Among hard-surfacing flooring options, cherry-stained wood was the most popular choice among all respondents, followed by medium-stained, natural-stained, and gray-stained wood looks. Millennial respondents favored gray-stained wood-look flooring, generation X respondents favored cherry-stained wood, and baby boomers preferred natural-stained wood-look flooring, according to Ashton Woods.

The Ashton Woods survey gathered responses from 1,888 people between the ages of 21 and 74 who have either purchased a home in the past five years or who are looking to move from their current home in the next five years. Of the respondents, half the participants were millennials and one-third were gen Xers. More than 70% of participants were in the cohort intending to purchase a home in the next five years.

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