What Products Homeowners Want in Their Kitchens and Baths

A new research from the National Kitchen and Bath Association shows which kitchen and bath products homeowners are spending the most on. Here's what that means for interior designers and retailers.

Alison Martin
02/05/2018
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Aura pendants hanging in urban kitchen and above dining room table, pendants from Kichler Lighting

Want to know what kitchen and bath products homeowners want? The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) latest research crunches the numbers from 2016, the most recent data available, to find out what products new-construction and remodel-and-replace homeowners spent the most money on. The results give us some insights as to how interior designers and retailers should be presenting themselves online and in-store.

So what products are homeowners prioritizing in their kitchens and bathrooms? Here are the trends and surprises from the latest NKBA study and what they mean for your business.

In the kitchen

The heart of the home. The nucleus. The kitchen goes by many euphemisms, but regardless of what you call it, it's a top priority for most homeowners.

Here's a breakdown of kitchen spending from NKBA:

- Americans spent $74.1 billion on kitchen products, excluding labor.

- That spending rose 10.6 percent from 2015.

- The $74.1 billion includes both new construction and remodel-and-replace projects, but only 27 ($19.8 billion) percent of that total came from new construction. The remaining 73 percent came from remodel and replace. Both sectors, however, are projected to continue growing in 2017 and 2018.

For kitchens in new construction, the majority of that $19.8 billion came from appliances, which accounted for $4.8 billion of the $19.8 billion. Cabinets, flooring and countertops followed in second, third and fourth respectively. Spending on lighting accounted for just $1.6 billion.

For homeowners who are replacing and remodeling, cabinets topped the list, accounting for $14.4 billion of the $54.3 billion spent, but appliances were right behind them with $12.8 billion. Countertops and flooring followed third and fourth. Homeowners spent about $2.1 billion on their kitchen lighting.

From this research, interior designers should know that aesthetics and functionality mean equally as much. Homeowners want their kitchens to look beautiful, but they're willing to spend just as much on appliances. If you don't know much about appliances on the market today (and there are plenty of high tech and cool options available), it's time to brush up on them. Of course, adding a few good kitchen shots to your online portfolio will help as well.

For retailers, focusing on kitchen lighting may be a great way to capture some of the remodel-and-replace market that has a smaller budget or just wants a kitchen refresh over a huge remodel. When you have a client buying a replacement fixture in your showroom, ask him or her to send before and after photos to be used on your website. Seeing is believing, so demonstrating how one customer updated a kitchen with just lighting might inspire others to do the same. Make sure you're blogging about this and talking about it on social media.

In the bathroom

The bathroom may be one of the smallest rooms in the home, but it packs a lot of style and product. 

First, the numbers from NKBA:

- Americans spent $73.2 billion on bathroom products in 2016, excluding labor.

- That spending rose 9.6 percent from 2015.

- That $73.2 billion includes both new constructions and remodel-and-replace spending, but they're more equally spent than in kitchens. The new construction portion of that spending equals $34.7 billion, while remodel and replace represents $38.5 billion.

In new construction projects, homeowners spent the most of that $34.7 billion on flooring, vanities, bathtubs and showers. Flooring alone accounted for $4.8 billion — that's almost 14 percent. Bathtubs and showers actually tied in the amount spent at $3.9 billion. Lighting came in at $2.7 billion.

For remodel and replace projects, showers were by far the biggest priority for homeowners with showers accounting for $7 billion of the $38.5 billion spent. Flooring, vanities and tubs came in second, third and fourth respectively. Remodel and replace homeowners spent a little less on lighting, coming in at $2.1 billion. 

Last year, the 2017 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study found that more people were ditching their bathtubs in favor of roomier showers, and while the NKBA research doesn't explicitly state that homeowners got rid of their bathtubs, they're clearly prioritizing showers in remodel and replace projects. It may be that homeowners want a spa-like experience at home.

For interior designers, if you don't have a few bathroom remodel jobs included in your online portfolio, consider adding them soon. Bathrooms are often small, overlooked jobs compared with stately kitchens and beautiful living rooms, but NKBA projects the bath products industry to grow by nearly 10 percent in 2017 and in 2018. This is a good market to catch.

For retailers, bathroom lighting may not have the biggest spending, but lighting is an easy update for remodel-and-replace homeowners, especially ones with a tighter budget. Replacing outdated fixtures with an LED model or redoing the lighting in general can give a bathroom a facelift. Make sure your sales associates ask remodel-and-replace customers about their bathroom lighting, even if they're not redoing their bathrooms right now. Your associates can position themselves as experts on lighting now so when your customer is ready to come back for bathroom lighting, that relationship has already been established.

 

What was most interesting to you in this study? Share with us in the comments!

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