It’s Official: These Three Kitchen Features Are Falling Out of Favor

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Like the outdated finishes they were once meant to refresh, some staples of the all-American kitchen renovation are starting to show their age and are waning in popularity — including the longtime king of countertops.

That’s according to Houzz’s 2018 U.S. Kitchen Trends Study. The survey of nearly 2,000 homeowners who completed a kitchen remodel in 2017 (or are in the midst of planning one) offers a glimpse at how the design trends seen in glossy magazines and home improvement shows are making their way into real-world homes and remodeling decisions.

There is lots of interesting data in the study that can help you plan an on-trend kitchen update — including average prices paid and the most popular color schemes and flooring options. But here are three kitchen features that appear to be falling out of favor with American homeowners:

#1: Raised Panel Cabinets

More than half of homeowners (57%) who replaced the cabinets during their kitchen remodel chose Shaker-style door fronts. Flat-panel cabinets were the second most popular choice at 18%, but were particularly popular with urban remodelers, 26% of whom went for the sleek look.

Raised panel doors, meanwhile, fell from 21% in 2016 to 17% this year — and only one in 10 urban homeowners chose their traditional look.

“Simplicity is in,” says Boston-based interior designer Sarah Scales. “Some traditional homes can handle the raised panel detail on the door front, but most homeowners want cleaner lines when it comes to cabinetry. Less (detail) is more.”

#2: Granite Countertops

Confirming what we learned in a survey of professional designers in 2017, engineered quartz countertops are now the top choice of remodeling homeowners — usurping granite, the longtime king of the 21st-century kitchen.

Granite counters are stuck in a three-year decline. In 2016, 43% of Houzz remodelers chose granite surfaces, but that fell to 40% last year and plunged to 34% for 2018. Man-made quartz counters, meanwhile — which are easily dyed and more environmentally friendly – have taken the top spot with 43% this year, up from 38% in 2016.

“Granite will always outperform any man-made product, but the ‘look’ is dated,” Scales says, as homeowners increasingly seek out solid-color countertop options. “The splotchy patterning and earthy tones of granite look less sophisticated than the quartz products on the market.” And marble, while attractive, she says, “is one of the softer stones, and can easily stain or etch.”

Plus, Scales adds, the engineered nature of quartz counters — molded slabs formed from quartz bits held together with a binder like resin — means there’s one less variable to worry about. “You know what you’re going to get with quartz,” Scales says. “No need to tour the stone yard and select slabs – they’re all the same!”

#3: Kitchen TV

Among the 14% of homeowners who install new electronics during a kitchen remodel, a TV is still the most common technological addition. However, its reign appears to be fading: While 79% planned to install a kitchen TV in 2016, that number fell off a high shelf to 64% for 2018.

Increasingly stealing the TV’s counter space, meanwhile, are docking stations (52%), wireless or Bluetooth speakers (35%), and home assistants (22%) like Amazon’s Alexa.

“Charging stations are a must in any busy kitchen,” Scales says. “My clients also want these spaces to be hidden. I have my electrician include docking stations and extra outlets in drawers or cabinets — that way, the electronics only need to be out as needed.”

As for TVs, Scales says most of her clients already feel too plugged in as it is. “If anything, I find clients don’t want the TV in the kitchen.”

After all, who wants to turn on HGTV in the kitchen only to find the expensive counters and cabinets you just installed are already out of date?

Tell us: What kitchen feature, fixture, or finish do you think is getting past its prime?