People Remodel Kitchens for a Lot of Reasons, But Cooking Isn’t One of Them

published Jan 11, 2018
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
a white and gray industrial style kitchen
(Image credit: Melanie Rieders)

For all our obsession with cooking shows, Americans appear more likely to find inspiration for their new kitchen from a Container Store catalog than a celebrity chef or Bon Appetit.

When asked about functional priorities for their recent or current kitchen remodels, American homeowners surveyed by Houzz talked about better organization, the ability to entertain, and the ease of cleaning or disinfecting surfaces, among other concerns. Respondents could give more than one answer to the question, but only one in four mentioned anything about cooking.

Organization was by far the most important factor: 63% cited a desire to more easily find and store their kitchen items. More than a third (38%) aimed for an improved space to “work, play, and live,” while 32% mentioned ease of cleaning and 32% wanted a kitchen that’s better for entertaining.

Meanwhile, cooking considerations were on the back burner. Fewer respondents cared if the new kitchen made it easier to cook large meals (27%), cook quick meals (26%), or for several cooks to operate at once (21%).

Now, before we make too much of this, I think one reason some people didn’t mention cooking might be that it’s a given. Just as when remodeling a bathroom, most people don’t consider the toilet a focal point of the design — even though, y’know… it’s a pretty crucial element — it’s all but assumed that a kitchen remodel with include a good stove, ample prep space, and efficient work triangle.

And for the record, 48% of respondents named “cooking from scratch” as one of their kitchen obsessions. But still, that’s fewer than half of remodelers — on par with “washing dishes” (46%) and “recycling” (49%) — and far fewer than the 75% who mentioned “decluttering counters” as a top kitchen activity.

There’s a lot of evidence that people just don’t cook as much anymore, and perhaps this is changing how we think about our dream kitchens. Among all developed nations, Americans cook the least (and eat the fastest), and for the first time ever we now spend more money at restaurants and bars than at grocery stores.

And while we salivate watching the Food Network, even the most basic meal prep — pouring Honey Nut Cheerios in a bowl and adding milk — seems to elude some of us. In one survey, an incredible 40% of millennials lamented that cereal (cereal!) was inconvenient because it requires cleanup.

Maybe it’s no wonder, then, that some American homeowners are more concerned with having nifty cabinet organizers — like pull-out trash and recycling bins for take-out containers — in their remodeled kitchens than a cook’s command center.