See more of the story

Island time isn’t just a vacation thing.

It’s island time in American kitchens, according to the recently released 2020 Houzz Kitchen Trends Study.

The home-improvement resource surveyed nearly 2,600 U.S. homeowners who are in the midst of, are planning or recently completed a kitchen project. Nearly two-thirds of those kitchen projects include an island. One third of homeowners added a new island during renovations, while almost a quarter upgraded an existing island. And today’s kitchen islands tend to be big, with a third measuring more than 7 feet long and another 39% 6 to 7 feet.

Islands today are designed to make a statement, with colors and materials that call attention to themselves. Making the island stand out from the rest of the kitchen was a design goal of many homeowners, with two in five opting for an island color that contrasts with their main cabinets. Color choices were led by gray (26%), blue (10%) and black (11%).

Islands are being built to stand out.
Islands are being built to stand out.

Jessica Cain/Houzz

Contrasting countertop colors also are common for islands, the choice of almost a third of homeowners, with 23% choosing white and 21% choosing medium-tone wood. Butcherblock topped the list of materials at 41%.

Islands also are becoming multi-tasking workhorses. Nearly all (98%) of new islands have built-in storage features, and more than half include built-in appliances, including microwaves (32%), dishwashers (31%), garbage disposals (24%), cooktops (21%) and beverage refrigerators (9%).

As for how homeowners are using their islands, 58% plan on using them for dining, 49% for entertaining and 45% for socializing.

On the whole, kitchen makeovers, always a big-ticket remodeling project, are getting even pricier, with the median spend for a major kitchen remodel completed in 2019 at $35,000, up 17% from a year ago ($30,000).

Changes in international trade policy have impacted kitchen trends, according to the Houzz survey, as homeowners deal with increasing product prices by substituting materials, as indicated by slower growth in the use of engineered quartz and a decline in the popularity of engineered flooring materials, both of which have been impacted by tariffs on imported materials from China.

Islands with contrasting countertops are more common.
Islands with contrasting countertops are more common.

Darlene Halaby/Houzz

Other trends:

Farmhouse style peaked in 2018, with a surge to 14% of kitchens, then fell to 11% in 2019. The styles topping the list in 2019 were transitional (21%), contemporary (16%) and modern (15%).

Backsplashes aren’t just functional but increasingly make a design statement. One in 10 homeowners install a backsplash all the way to the ceiling, while 63% install it from counter height to upper cabinets or range hood. White is the most popular color (chosen by 35%), followed by multicolored (20%), then gray (15%).

Vinyl flooring is on the rise, climbing from 10% in 2018 to 14% in 2020. However, the top choices are hardwood (29%) and ceramic or porcelain tile (23%).

White continues as the most popular color for cabinets, chosen by 45%, followed by medium wood (11%) and gray (10%).

Recessed lights continue to be the most popular light fixture upgrades, chosen by 69%, followed by under-cabinet (65%) and pendant lights (56%). And islands also are getting illuminated; 92% of owners who upgraded their island also chose new lighting above the island.

High-tech features remain popular among those upgrading faucets and appliances, but their growth has slowed. Half of upgraded faucets are high-tech (51% vs. 57% last year), boasting water efficiency, no-fingerprint coating or touch-free activation. One-fourth of appliances feature high-tech features (25% vs. 30% last year), with wireless controls leading the list.

Opening the kitchen to other rooms of the house appears to be trending down, although open-concept upgrades remain popular (46% in 2020 vs. 53% in 2019).

Stainless-steel appliances remain the top choice (73%), but black stainless as an alternative is holding fairly steady at 9%.

(You can read the complete report at Houzz.com.)

Kim Palmer • 612-673-4784 @stribkimpalmer