Changing lifestyles, new design trends and consumer product “hot buttons” have a major influence on the materials, colors and styles of countertops, which continue to emerge as both an aesthetic and functional feature in today’s new and remodeled kitchens.
It is one of several key findings in a nationwide survey conducted by Kitchen & Bath Design News among kitchen retailers and designers who report that countertops – largely influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic – have increasingly become the focal point of the modern kitchen, serving not only their traditional roles of cooking, dining, cleaning and entertaining , but as a multifunctional space for homework, hobbies, work from home projects and various other activities.
But despite the dizzying array of colors, materials, features and other options, kitchen consumers are very specific when it comes to the criteria they consider when choosing their countertops. KBDN investigation found.
According to the results of the survey conducted last month, key factors in choosing a countertop include material, color, durability, affordability and sustainability. Sanitary benefits have also become increasingly important, say retailers and designers KBDN. Similarly, cost is also a factor in home owners’ choice of countertop material, although it appears that customers are increasingly willing to invest – and even stretch their budget – to achieve the material, functionality and overall aesthetic they desire.
QUARTZ CONDUCTIVE MATERIAL
According to the survey results, engineered quartz continues to be the countertop material that retailers and designers report is growing the fastest in demand among their kitchen customers.
Specifically KBDN study found that engineered quartz countertops are seen by nearly 33% of respondents as the countertop they see growing the fastest demand (see Figure 1).
In comparison, quartzite – natural sandstone fused together under heat and pressure with sparkling quartz crystals – is considered the fastest growing kitchen countertop material of approx. 17% of those surveyed in the survey, while granite is seen as the fastest growing among just over 9%. of the design professionals interviewed. Other countertop choices include solid surface (7%), marble (5%), sintered stone (4.6%) and concrete (3.3%). Outdoor-friendly surfaces are also seen as increasing in popularity along with the growing trend for outdoor living.
In terms of color, white/cream (45%) and gray (24.4%) are the most requested colors, according to survey respondents. Black is preferred by around 12.6% of the designer’s customers. Glossy and matte surfaces are preferred about equally by their clients, report design professionals surveyed (see Figure 2).
Retailers and designers also report that customers are increasingly gravitating to countertops that have subtle patterns and movement, as opposed to other options. That KBDN survey, for example, found that 62.5% of retailers and designers surveyed reported that countertops with subtle patterns were a customer preference. In contrast, only 18.8% said their clients gravitate toward marble-look surfaces, while 12.5% said their clients prefer countertops with dramatic patterns or movement, and 6.3% said clients gravitate toward plain tops.
OTHER KEY CRITERIA
The importance of choosing countertops with clear sanitary/health benefits has apparently become increasingly important to customers, undoubtedly as a result of increased awareness of the benefits of antimicrobial protection due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For example, about 55% of their customers consider sanitary benefits such as ease of cleaning and antimicrobial protection to be either “very important” (42%) or “extremely important” (13.2%), according to retailers and designers surveyed. At the same time, design professionals surveyed say sanitary benefits are “moderately important” to about 24% of their clients. In comparison, only about 20% of their customers believe hygiene services are only “somewhat important” (18.3%) or “not at all important” (1.9%), survey respondents report (see Figure 3).
Durability also remains an important factor in countertop material selection, with around 55% of retailers and designers surveyed saying durability is “very important” to customers and around 37% saying durability is “extremely important”. In contrast, only about 1.3% of customers feel that tabletop durability is “not at all” important (see Figure 4).
Affordability, as mentioned earlier, is somewhat less of a factor in choosing a countertop.
That KBDN for example, the survey found that only about 36% of their customers consider affordability to be either “extremely” important (8.5%) or “very” important” (25%), survey respondents said. By comparison, about 56% said of retailers’ and designers’ customers, however, that affordability was only “moderately” important, while more than 10% said it was either “somewhat” important (8%) or “not at all important” ( 2.4%) (see Figure 5).
Other key survey findings were as follows:
- Regardless of material choice, kitchen customers are generally looking for neutral countertops that fit seamlessly with the kitchen’s overall aesthetic, as opposed to bold countertops with “wow” appeal, according to survey results. Specifically, nearly three-quarters of their customers prefer neutral tones as opposed to splashy tops, retailers and designers say KBDN.
- Eco-friendliness is an important factor in choosing countertop material among only about half of today’s kitchen customers, retailers and designers told KBDN. Specifically, about 64% of respondents reported that environmental friendliness was only “somewhat important” (39.9%) or “not at all important” (23.9%) as a factor in selecting their customers. In comparison, less than 10% said environmental friendliness was either “extremely important” or “very important.” ▪
Multifunctional worktops called ‘Priority’ for kitchens
PALO ALTO, CA – Homeowners are making room in their kitchen remodeling budgets 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 a third of surveyed homeowners (35%) “sprang” on countertops, which were upgraded by more than nine in 10 homeowners, the most common feature improved during kitchen renovations.
“It’s 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 for labor, products and materials,” said Marine Sargsyan, senior economist for Palo Alto, CA. -based online platform for home renovation and design.
When it comes to choosing new kitchen countertops, homeowners choose materials based on look and feel, durability and ease of cleaning over cost, said Houzz, whose online survey was conducted among nearly 2,400 U.S. Houzz users who are in the middle of, planning to or recently have 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 choose an island countertop material that contrasts with their primary countertops, over a third choose butcher block or wood slab. Aesthetically, homeowners are increasingly choosing white for their countertops during renovations.
Among other survey results:
- Popular large islands: After a kitchen renovation, one in five homeowners say a top activity on their island is work, up 4% from 2021. Homeowners are making room for this activity, with nearly two in five islands stretching more than 7 feet in length, an increase of five percentage points over last year. Homeowners are also brightening up the room, with the vast majority installing new lighting fixtures over islands (92%).
- White and gray dominate as top colours: White continues to lead as the best 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 floors, and 11% choosing a gray backsplash.
- 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 the upgraded appliances include high-tech features, an increase of six percentage points from the previous year. The most popular features in kitchen appliances are wireless and smartphone controls (26%), an increase of eight percentage points from 2021.
- Beverage refrigerators galore: Nearly one in five homeowners are incorporating beverage refrigerators into their remodeled kitchens, and 14% are adding wine refrigerators.
Homeowners seen looking for ‘everything you can imagine’
CHICAGO — Homeowners seem to cast an extremely wide net and willingly cast when it comes to choosing materials, styles and colors for kitchen countertops.
That’s the consensus among a nationwide sample of kitchen design professionals polled last month Kitchen & Bath Design News.
“It’s very difficult to answer questions about design trends and demand,” one designer told me KBDN. “One client might have plain white countertops, while another has bold veins. It all depends on the project, the client, who lives in the house, and what their unique needs and goals are.”
“It’s busy out there and clients are demanding everything you can imagine,” said another designer.
Dealers and designers also reported that customers are willing to spend a larger portion of their kitchen remodeling budget than they might have originally intended on countertops, as long as the specified tops meet their functional needs and enhance the overall design.
A sample of additional dealer/designer comments passed to KBDN include the following:
- “We’re seeing countertops that stand out against the cabinetry, but are either solid or very subtly patterned so they can stand the test of time better (with more people back in place). Backsplash is where the ‘wow’ factor is if it is desired.”
- “I see an increasing trend towards warmer colors in quartz with a marble look – caramels, browns, red plum (yes!). We need to get away from cold gray and very cool white with only gray. My clients are sick of that trend, or they’re afraid of me telling them that’s what they ‘should’ do.
- “We sell about 50% quartz for subtle patterns and 50% granite for bold patterns. But lately we’ve seen an increase in demand for more expensive materials (such as quartzite) and more unusual materials (such as dolomite). Both of these materials help the customer with making a more personal statement.”
- “People mix countertops, but white and light marble looks with some darker brown or gray veins all seem popular. Although some customers want thick edges, most prefer thin (3cm).