2020 Ashton Woods National Homebuyer Survey
January 6, 2020
In order to identify trends in home design preferences and priorities, Ashton Woods surveyed 1,888 people ages 21 to 74 who have either purchased a home in the last 5 years or who are looking to move from their current home within the next 5 years. Participants were surveyed across the United States regarding their preferences for home design and what they want to see in their next home.
The survey’s goal was to identify clear trends in what homebuyers want in their next home in terms of layout, design, style, materials and finishes, and revealed surprising results in some areas.
Ashton Woods asked homebuyers what they were looking for in a builder and what builder options were most important. Homebuyers said personalization options and interior design consultations with professional designers were important considerations when selecting a builder, with the vast majority willing to pay more for a homebuilder that offers these services. Homebuyers prefer full consultations with designers who provide product knowledge and expertise over pre-determined options or brief consultations with a designer who would make selections based on that consultation, showing both personalization and expertise are clear priorities for homebuyers in selecting a builder.
Homebuyers place their largest priority for budget and associated design offerings in the kitchen, living area and master suite – citing size, style and luxury options as common wants. When it came to prioritizing rooms in their recently purchased home, Millennials prioritized the kitchen, whereas Gen X prioritized the living area and Baby Boomers prioritized the master suite.
What’s In and What’s Out
- Homebuyers are seeking flexible spaces built-in to their home’s floorplan – citing needs for future changes such as boomerang kids moving back home, taking care of aging parents or simply a space that can convert from everyday use to a special space for entertaining.
- The farmhouse style is out both on the interior and exterior of the home – instead participants preferred the craftsman style on the exterior of their home and are opting for design featuring a mix of natural wood and industrial elements of the New Industrial interior design style.
- A sign that a new generation of preferences are entering, cherry stained wood flooring was the top choice among participants for hard flooring color options.
- Painted cabinets are out. Instead, homebuyers prefer stained options – with the natural-stained wood look taking lead, followed by dark stained and gray stained options. Consistent with trends identified in last year’s survey, homeowners are shying away from the all-white cabinetry that has dominated kitchen trends for the better part of this decade.
- Storage is a top priority for homebuyers with the majority citing having too little in their current home.
- Homeowners elaborate more on a trend last year’s survey uncovered of homeowners moving away from a shower-tub combination in the master bathroom. Now, homeowners want both an oversized shower and a bathtub in the master bathroom.
The 1,888 survey participants voiced clear opinions on what they are looking for in their next home, revealing several interesting findings and outlining trends that will shape the homebuyer and new construction design space over the next several years. Survey questions covered a variety of topics, from builder option preferences and prioritization of spaces inside the next home to preferences of materials, colors, finishes and styles.
When selecting a home builder, the vast majority of participants (86 percent) said they are more likely to select a builder that offers design personalization options over one that does not, and 75 percent said they are willing to pay more for a home with a builder that offers those options. Participants also said it is important for them to have interior design consultations with a professional designer included as part of the services offered by the homebuilder (64 percent). When it comes to selecting the options for their home, 89 percent of participants said it was at least somewhat important to be able to select all the materials, finishes, colors, etc. in one place rather than going to a different location for each.
Next Home Needs
Overall, participants said their next home would ideally have three bedrooms (43 percent) and two-and-a-half bathrooms (34 percent), sitting between 1,500 and 2,499 square feet (38 percent). Lack of storage space in their current home (59 percent) was the top frustration for participants, followed by needing additional space for hobbies (58 percent). Having too small of a master bathroom (49 percent), too small a kitchen (48 percent) and an outdated kitchen (45 percent) were other frustrations of the participants.
The younger generations displayed a clear preference for flexible spaces in their next home. Millennials (69 percent) and Gen X (56 percent) were far more likely than Baby Boomers (35 percent) to say they need additional room for hobbies, kids or entertaining.
When it comes to specialty rooms in their next home, the majority of participants (63 percent) said they would want a home office or study, followed by 44 percent of participants who want a media room or home theater, 34 percent a home gym or yoga room and 31 percent a game room. Millennials more than any other generation were more likely to want a gym or home office in their next home, and Gen Xers were more likely to want a media room or in-home theater. If asked to choose only one specialty room, the home office or study won out with 33 percent of participants – the most of any option and with every generation following suit.
Intenders vs. Recent Purchasers
When prioritizing rooms, the kitchen, the living area and the master bedroom were the top three priorities overall. These priorities were the same for those who recently purchased a home and for participants who were intending to purchase a home in the near future.
For all participants who recently purchased their home, the kitchen (32 percent) was the most important room in consideration by purchasers, followed by the living area (24 percent) and the master bedroom (21 percent). Interestingly, each generation prioritized a different room in their recently purchased home. Millennials prioritized the kitchen, whereas Gen X prioritized the living area and Baby Boomers prioritized the master bedroom.
For participants who intend to purchase a home soon, their expected priorities were similar overall – the kitchen received the highest priority (34 percent), followed by the living area (21 percent) and the master bedroom (17 percent). Intended purchasers by generation agreed with the overall majority.
The kitchen takes priority when it comes to budgeting for luxurious features among future homebuyers. More than half of participants said they would prioritize luxury features in the kitchen over other areas of the home – a priority agreed upon by each individual generation and the participants as a whole.
While the majority of participants said they spend a lot of time in the kitchen (74 percent) or often cook at home (88 percent), still nearly half showed frustration with the size (48 percent) or style (45 percent) of their current kitchen.
Homeowners are continuing to ditch the all-white kitchen, and instead are opting for a more natural and warmer look. Participants said they preferred natural wood (25 percent) over white (16 percent) cabinets. Following close behind white is dark stained (13 percent) and distressed wood (9 percent) cabinets. Every generation agreed on the preference for natural wood cabinets, with Baby boomers showing the strongest preference when compared to other generations for the natural wood look (42 percent).
While the majority of participants still prefer the traditional style upper and lower kitchen cabinets, nearly one-fifth of participants want to ditch the lower cabinets, replacing them with larger, accessible drawers.
More than half of participants said they would consider colorful appliances in their next home (58 percent). By generation, Millennials and Gen X agreed with the up-and-coming bold trend, although Baby Boomers disagreed with their younger counterparts – preferring a more traditional style with their kitchen appliance.
As for countertops, participants were most concerned with stain resistance (58 percent), durability (56 percent), and low maintenance (50 percent) – concerns that were consistent across generations. When it came to the type of kitchen island, most participants preferred a traditional kitchen island (44 percent) or a waterfall kitchen island (34 percent) over a kitchen island that had an attached breakfast table (22 percent).
A dedicated pantry was a priority for most participants (65 percent). As for other kitchen storage options, 43 percent of participants said they wanted a pull-out waste basket, followed by a spice drawer (33 percent), knife drawer (30 percent), sheet pan storage (26 percent), heavy appliance lift (22 percent), and built-in wine rack (21 percent).
For their top three storage options in the kitchen, each generation agreed a dedicated pantry and pull-out waste basket were the top two priorities. Baby Boomers and Generation Xers both cited the spice drawer as their third storage preference, whereas Millennials preferred the knife drawer storage.
Master Suite Preferences
Size really does matter when it comes to the master suite for homebuyers. In their current home, 41 percent of participants said their master bedroom was too small and nearly half of participants (49 percent) said their master bathroom was too small. In the master bathroom, 67 percent of participants said it was very important to have an oversized shower in their next home, and a bathtub was still very important for the majority of participants (65 percent). In addition, participants also said a double vanity (57 percent) and a water closet (53 percent) was a priority for their next home. Interestingly, 29 percent of participants said they want a fireplace in their next master bathroom. The majority of participants said they preferred half-tile walls in the bathroom (66 percent) versus full tiled walls (34 percent). Millennials were more likely than the other generations to show a preference for full tile walls (38 percent), showing a slight sway towards the luxurious style.
As for lighting in the master bedroom, nearly half of homeowners prefer the traditional ceiling fan (48 percent), followed by recessed lighting (20 percent) and wall-mounted lighting (14 percent). All generations agreed on the preference for a traditional ceiling fan.
When it comes to filling that extra square footage in their home, future homebuyers felt it was important to incorporate a dedicated laundry room (81 percent), a home office (67 percent) and an entertainment room (59 percent) in their next home.
33 percent of participants said they would be willing to spend up to $10,000 more on a hobby or bonus room, with 24 percent of participants saying they aren’t willing to spend additional money on a hobby or bonus room.
Baby boomers were less willing to spend more money on a hobby/bonus room than millennials and Generation Xers. Baby boomers and millennials were most likely to spend up to $10,000 on a hobby/bonus room.
55 percent of participants said it was important for their next home to have flexible spaces that could transform into additional living space in the future for aging family members or boomerang children. Millennials, more than any other generation, said it was important to have flexible space that could transform for future living arrangements, with 61 percent saying so. Just under half of Gen X and Baby Boomers agreed.
Overall, participants showed a preference for the ranch architectural style (13 percent) and the modern style (13 percent), as well as cottage (9 percent), traditional (9 percent), farmhouse (8 percent) craftsman (8 percent) and Mediterranean (7 percent) styles. Victorian came in at 7 percent, followed by contemporary (5 percent), colonial (5 percent), transitional (4 percent), mid-century-modern (4 percent), Tudor revival (3 percent), Spanish (2 percent) and Greek revival (2 percent).
Baby boomers showed a clear preference for the ranch architectural style (20 percent). Generation Xers were split between the ranch (13 percent) and modern (13 percent) styles. Millennials showed a preference for the modern style (13 percent).
When it comes to interior design styles, participants were split equally (14 percent) among transitional, traditional, contemporary and farmhouse. Those styles were followed closely by rustic (12 percent). The other styles that were less preferred included French country (6 percent), industrial, mid-century-modern, and coastal (all at 5 percent), shabby chic and bohemian (both at 4 percent), and Scandinavian (3 percent).
Baby boomers said the traditional interior design style (17 percent) was their favorite, followed by rustic (15 percent) and farmhouse (15 percent) styles. Generation Xers showed a preference for the transitional style (17 percent) followed by farmhouse (15 percent). Millennials said the contemporary style (16 percent) was their favorite interior design style, followed by farmhouse (13 percent) and transitional (12 percent).
Interior Design Elements
Overall, participants showed a preference for the craftsman style (29 percent), the contemporary style (20 percent) and the traditional style (19 percent) home. The Mediterranean/Spanish style came in at 12 percent, followed by farmhouse (10 percent) and mid-century modern (10 percent). Baby Boomers preferred the contemporary style (27 percent), whereas Millennials and Gen X preferred the craftsman style (34 percent and 30 percent, respectively).
Showing a preference for the darker side, the majority of participants said they would consider dark exterior colors for their next home (84 percent). Millennials (91 percent) were far more likely to show a preference for the darker exterior than their elder generation counterparts.
When it comes to interior design styles, participants showed preference for a New Industrial-style interior design (21 percent), which features warm accents such as natural wood cabinets paired with contrasting elements such as a dark painted fireplace and decorative iron elements. Closely behind the New Industrial style was the Warm Contemporary style (19 percent) which features muted tones paired with natural wood elements and mixed metals and the minimalist style (18 percent) which features a monochrome color palette and clean lines.
While baby boomers and Generation Xers both said brushed nickel was their preferred material finish, millennials disagreed with their elder generations, selecting stainless steel and oil rubbed bronze as their preferred material finishes.
Generation Xers led the charge with the New Industrial style preference, whereas Baby Boomers preferred the Warm Contemporary style. Millennials were split between the preference for the minimalist style and the Warm Contemporary style.
Interior Design Elements
Participants said movie walls and library book walls (18 percent) tied for their favorite design element they would consider implementing in their next home, followed by stone accent walls (17 percent) and decorative ceilings (12 percent). Millennials and Generation Xers showed preference for the movie wall (22 percent), whereas Baby Boomers preferred the library or book wall (21 percent).
For hard-surfaced flooring, cherry stained wood peaked interest at 27 percent, followed by medium stained (25 percent), natural stained (20 percent) and gray stained (20 percent) wood looks. Millennials preferred gray stained (27 percent), Generation Xers preferred cherry (36 percent) and Baby Boomers preferred the natural stained (32 percent).
For the survey, 48 percent of participants were male, and 52 percent were female. Of the participants, 26 percent were single and never married, 58 percent married, 9 percent separated, divorced or widowed and 7 percent in a domestic partnership. Nearly half of participants (48 percent) were Millennials, with 33 percent and 19 percent belonging to the Gen X and Baby Boomer generations, respectively. More than one-fourth of participants had recently purchased a home within the last five years, and the other 72 percent intend to purchase a home in the next five years.
For the participants, the size of their existing home ranged from one to five bedrooms. The majority of households contained one to six people. When it came to children in the home, 40 percent of participants had no children at home, 6 percent had all children who had left the household, and one percent were expecting their first child. For those with children in the home, 6 percent had a child under 2 years old, 11 percent had a child between 2 and 6 years of age, 14 percent had a child between 6 and 12 years of age, 15 percent had a child between 12 and 18 years of age, 7 percent had a child 18 years of age or older. The majority of participants said they lived in a suburban location (59 percent), with 24 percent living in an urban location and 16 percent living in a rural area.
When it comes to their current home, 77 percent owned their current home. For the type of home, 81 percent live in a single-family home, 13 percent live in an apartment or condo and the remaining 6 percent live in a townhome or duplex. As for longevity, 35 percent of participants said they expected to live in their current home for fewer than 10 years.