Trend Watch: Kitchens Are Getting Larger, Bathrooms Are Getting Cozier

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

The recession had sparked home owners to be more modest with designs of kitchens and bathrooms, but the improving economy is making home owners want more out of their house.

Residential architects are reporting that home owners’ preferences are tilting toward larger kitchens and bathrooms, and in some cases, home owners are saying they want even more than one kitchen and more bathrooms, according to the latest American Institute of Architects’ Home Design Trends Survey, which mostly focused on kitchens and bathrooms.

“We are not seeing the same level of demand for larger and additional kitchens and bathrooms as we saw during the peak of the housing market, but there has been a shift away from downsizing those rooms that has taken place over the last two years,” says AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker.

That said, while home owners are beginning to show a preference for “more” and “larger” when it comes to kitchens and bathrooms, they still are mostly bypassing upscale products and favoring more sustainable and universal design features.


As homes have gotten smaller so have kitchens, but now architects say the downsizing trend in the kitchen is coming to a halt. Nearly a quarter of architects say the size of kitchens nowadays are actually increasing.

As kitchens get bigger, special function areas are expected to continue to be popular, such as recycling centers, larger pantry spaces, recharging stations for electronic devices, and integration of kitchens with family living space (known as “great rooms”).

Home owners also are showing a preference toward sustainable design products, such as renewable material flooring (such as bamboo or cork) and countertops (such as concrete or bamboo).

Meanwhile, some upscale kitchen features–such as double islands for working and eating, wine storage areas, duplicate appliances, upper-end appliances, and natural stone countertops–are less in demand.


The number and size of bathrooms is beginning to shift upward, according to the survey, while bathrooms that incorporate universal design features and sustainable products are gaining the most steam.

For example, water conserving toilets, radiant heated floors, doorless showers, and LED lighting continue to be in high demand.

But dwindling in popularity are more upscale products for the bathroom, such as steam showers, towel warming racks or drawers, or sensor operated faucets.

Melissa Tracey

Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, writing about home & design trends, technology, and sales and marketing. She manages the magazine's award-winning Styled, Staged & Sold blog.

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  1. Holly Schwartz

    Open kitchens and great rooms are really in high demand in my real estate market here in Orange County, CA. When I was a producer for My House Is Worth What (HGTV) kitchens that were open to the living space and remodeled correctly (in line for their market and not overly personalized) were often one of the best bang for your buck items a homeowner could do.

    From a real estate perspective a lot of buyers don’t like seeing showers without doors though.

    It’s important to note that bigger isn’t always better!

  2. I don’t have that problem, as I try to avoid that room unless I’m getting coffee.

  3. Absolutely! Big kitchens are the selling point–especially if they have nice appliances