What is the average American looking for in a kitchen?

CTN30July 11, 2014

I was just looking at real estate listings for a friend who is looking for a new house, and had this "ah hah" moment where I realized that kitchens that I would have considered absolutely fine/nice a year ago now look dated and cheap to me. I think it comes from researching on sites like Houzz and this forum!

So my question is this: is my vision skewed from being here, or have American tastes changed THAT much in such a short time?

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Could you post some examples of what you think is dated and cheap compared to what you like today?

There are a lot of factors probably going on here. Real estate listings unless they are really high end generally don't have the same level of photographs as designers on Houzz do. Also Houzz has such a vast array of designs/designers on there that it encompasses a ton of variables.

You might see a real estate listing that is 400,000 dollars and has a kitchen that looks old or dated, or whatever. Then you'll see a brand spanking new kitchen which cost 100k+ on the front page of Houzz all done up and photographed by a professional who then adjusts the lighting, smooths the lines, and makes it look outstanding.

It is also possible that your own preferences have changed since been on there, and being on this site. A lot of people in the US are just happy with whatever came with their home and don't either want to spend, or don't have the means to spend a ton of money on their kitchens. You're looking at a subset of the US that is kitchen obsessed and are always trying/looking/using the newest greatest things. The representations shown on here and Houzz are *generally* drastically different than most Americans homes.

I think you've just been noticing things a lot more by researching more. Not a bad problem to have at all.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 2:57PM
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"The representations shown on here and Houzz are *generally* drastically different than most Americans homes."

Right, that's my point. So what are "average" Americans looking for?

(also, how do I post pictures?)

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 3:16PM
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For me it's functional space. I also prefer designated zones. My "new" house does not have either of these and is very early 90's when people didn't really use the kitchen.

We did not buy this house because of the kitchen,..in fact it was one of my cons..but the husband's love of the house and the fact that it is workable..I agreed to buy it.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 3:23PM
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An average American kitchen probably looks something like this. Large by international standards, but a bit worn. I would guess that things that most gardenwebbers find outdated would seem state-of-the-art to most americans. The HGTV holy trinity of stainless, granite, and maple is still what you see in most middle-class new home developments. Houzz and design blogs are full of kitchens that few outside the very wealthy would ever be able to afford. I remember a post not to long ago by a young new homeowner who was looking to renovate her kitchen for ~10k. She was basically told that she was deluded for thinking that it could be done for a budget that small. Yet, 10k is a LOT of money for most Americans, considering the median household income is just over $50k, and median value of existing homes is just over $200k.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 3:27PM
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I think I am a more 'average' shopper than many people here - I haven't been on the boards for long. Don't have the finessed taste that many here have. I bought a house about a year ago and my #1 & #2 were storage and workable space. I am betting stainless and granite are things that many "average" shoppers would say. Probably many of them don't know that there are many other viable stone options. Just to give you an idea - I know most of you will want to die, but I bought a house with a microwave over the cook top and will probably leave it there during the update.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 3:31PM
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Gotcha, I wasn't sure exactly what the question was. But in my opinion I've seen kitchens like this one I've posted a lot. And that seems to be pretty standard builder kitchen. I have friends and family who have a kitchen similar to this one and they seem to be just fine with it.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 3:37PM
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I would agree with JG that average Americans don't have the means to afford those kitchens. It is very expensive. I also agree that a lot of people don't desire or feel the need for them, or want to spend that kind of money on a kitchen.

I agree with you that people become shkewed by their exposure to marketing. So if you enjoy looking at Houzz, rather than glancing and going pfff, you will be evolving your taste through the exposure.

I think the average person wants something functional, of decent quality in good repair - and clean! Fresh and clean sells.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 3:39PM
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Actually, the microwave over the cooktop is a great example. We had it in our previous kitchen (which was actually an awesome custom kitchen that the previous owners of that home had done right before we bought it). It was a very small kitchen in a very small condo, so it never once occurred to me that there was anything "wrong" with the microwave over the stove. We have it in our current house too (built in 2007, but we just moved there in December), and while I hated the kitchen as a whole before we bought it, and knew we would be taking on some degree of renovation, I hadn't necessarily assumed I would be losing the microwave over the stove. But in the end we did decide to get rid of it, and now it looks kind of cheap to me.

The "$10K to renovate a kitchen" is another good example. $10K IS a lot of money. Heh, when we bought our current home, I would have said that we might wind up dropping about that into it for some needed changes. Hahahaha - $20K later....

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 3:41PM
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I would probably venture to say that the "average" American doesn't even do that much cooking. Heating up frozen or packaged foods or making a boxed cake doesn't really put a kitchen through it's paces. I think the notion of "functional" doesn't even register for most folks. If it has a stove, a sink, a fridge, and a dishwasher, then I bet most people would say it functions. I believe that the average person would be more swayed by eye-candy finishes and a large footprint than with a functional layout with more modest materials. Now GWers, who have spent months or years obsessing over kitchen designs may feel differently, but that isn't the average consumer.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 4:02PM
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My sister lived in a new development where she rented and now lives in a new development that is mixed single and twin houses.

The first had oak cabinets with laminate counters, stainless steel sink and white appliances. It was a basic L shape with a pantry closet and eating area. Standard for the development, which included some fairly large and fairly small houses --all of which were sited and designed to look more impressive than they were.

The second, which she bought, has Merillat framed cabinets, stainless steel appliances and black appliances, and granite countertops, a raised counter on one side and a gas fireplace in the eating area. The granite countertops and stainless appliances were upgrades but common in the development.

She was interested in having granite for durability, but was not all that interested in what it looked like. It's entry level, the kind I see on a lot of prefab vanity tops and not bad. She was mostly interested in the black/stainless appliances because of the features upgrade, not because of the stainless.

I think this is what the average people are looking for in a kitchen. They don't want to hate it, but on the other hand if they buy a house and it has a certain checklist of items they are fine with it.

I think Houzz would be more useful if there was a price tag attached to every picture. I think Houzz gives people extremely unrealistic expectations. This is a bit off topic but a poster in bathrooms was extremely unhappy with her tile job, which was well done but had a lot of cut tiles on the pony wall and in other areas. She said she just wanted a "typical average good quality tile job" (words to that effect) "like you see on Houzz" and then she posted a picture of a tile layout that had such a perfect layout of tiles, including a pony wall the exact thickness of one tile, that it was obviously Exceedingly Carefully Planned from the Framing Stage (I know because I am doing this myself and the size of the bathroom needed to change because of the size of the tile.

I am not being critical of the poster but she obviously had no idea the amount of work and coordination that can go into achieving "like Houzz" and with all this coordination and work goes $$$$$.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 4:15PM
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Houzz really messes with your mind, doesn't it? On the one hand, I love to see the inspirational photos, but on the other, most homes (mine included!) just don't have the square footage, number of windows, types of materials, and craftsmanship that is shown. I too would love too see budget figures for some of the spaces. I suspect I would find it shocking!

This post was edited by cstr on Fri, Jul 11, 14 at 16:56

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 4:49PM
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Food, probably. Leftover pizza.


Or they could be rooting around for their Captain Crunch cereal. That'd be my guess- a nice bowl of afternoon cereal.

What do you usually look for, when you are in the kitchen?

This post was edited by Lauraeli on Fri, Jul 11, 14 at 17:02

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 4:59PM
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Kitchen ammenities, according to National Association of Realtor, are half the priorities buyers are looking for / willing to pay more for


  1. New kitchen appliances
  2. Granite countertops
  3. Kitchen island
  4. Stainless steel appliances
  5. Eat-in kitchen


2. New kitchen appliances
> 69% > Amount willing to pay extra: $1,840
About 69% of homeowners said they were willing to spend more money for new kitchen appliances. Unsurprisingly, people who are looking to buy a new home find this far more important than people who are eyeing previously owned homes. People who are the first to live in a specific house tend to want everything to be new in the house because they consider the house truly "their own," DeSimone said. People also do not want to have to deal with the stress of broken appliances. "They don't want to come home after a horrible stressful day at work and find the dishwasher isn't working or the fridge is making noises."

4. Granite countertops
> 55% > Amount willing to pay extra: $1,620
Among homeowners between the ages of 35 and 54, 24% viewed granite countertops as "very important," compared to 18% of people under 35 and 18% of people over 55. Although just one in every five prospective home buyers said granite countertops were very important, 55% of those who bought a home without such a countertop said they would pay extra for it. Both DeSimone and Samuelson agreed that the granite countertop is more of a style issue than anything else. "There has been more emphasis on the beautiful kitchen these days, and granite countertops are a part of that," Samuelson said.

5. Hardwood floors
> 54% > Amount willing to pay extra: $2,080
Some 25% of buyers under the age of 35, and 28% of those between 35 and 54, considered hardwood floors "very important" when looking for a home. Only 17% of people ages 55 and up felt the same way. In previous generations, homes with carpets were considered better in order to conserve energy, DeSimone said. Even today, older people are more likely to feel more comfortable with carpeting because the insulation makes the home a little bit warmer. But for younger people looking to have many guests at the house and for people with children, hardwood floors are desirable because they are easier to clean than carpets.

7. Kitchen island
> 48% > Amount willing to pay extra: $1,370
Kitchen islands are most important to people ages 35 to 54, with 24% indicating that it is a "very important" characteristic. Just 19% of people under 35 and 13% over 55 considered this feature important. DeSimone noted that kitchen islands often come in handy for those who are raising a family. It provides additional room to put out food for the family and allows the kitchen to become more organized. Although the desire for a kitchen island is high, those who do not have one but want one are only willing to shell out $1,370, less than most other features.

8. Stainless steel appliances
> 41% > Amount willing to pay extra: $1,850
Like most features, stainless steel appliances are most important to people between the ages of 35 to 54, with 23% considering them to be a "very important" investment, compared with just 16% of those under the age of 35 and a mere 11% of those over the age of 55. From a cost perspective, stainless steel appliances are not necessarily the best investment. Samuelson noted that stainless steel wears out far easier than most other common materials. Also, the children in the house can also get their fingerprints on the appliances, requiring more cleaning. However, Samuelson said people are primarily driven to buy stainless steel appliances because they look more attractive.

10. Eat-in kitchen
> 40% > Amount willing to pay extra: $1,770
The people most interested in an eat-in kitchen tend to be in the 35-to-54 age range, with 30% of those prospective home buyers indicating this is "very important" in a house. Meanwhile, just 21% of those under 35 years of age and 20% over 55 feel the same way. More people, especially those who are raising families, want kitchens that look into family entertainment rooms. Some have even made it a family hangout by placing big-screen TVs and other electronics in the kitchen. "Buyers who are in families want to be in one space and do it all," DeSimone said.

This post was edited by Jaynes123 on Fri, Jul 11, 14 at 17:32

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 5:29PM
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Interesting -- they want it all but they generally aren't willing to pay what it costs to add them -- with the possible exception of the hardwood floors. The discussion of flooring compares to carpet and sounds like a whole hose issue. Who puts carpet in a kitchen?

If the post about a $10K reno is the same one I'm thinking about, the person wanted to gut the place, move walls and relocate things -- all items that add to the cost. It is certainly possible to update a kitchen with that kind of budget, but that's not updating a kitchen -- that becomes remodeling a significant part of the house.

I'm not average, but I'd be looking for function, If it has the space and things I need, I can work on aesthetics or do things like update appliances, but it has to be my workplace first and foremost.

This post was edited by lascatx on Fri, Jul 11, 14 at 18:13

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 6:08PM
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I'm pretty average, and I bought a newly constructed home recently after living for years with tiny, crappy apartment kitchens. I can tell you what I was looking for in my modest priceline:

--bigger, with more counter space
--more open to the living area
--nicer appliances (a step up, not top of the line)
--decent storage space

that's it. I was NOT looking for granite, a huge island, or over-the-top appliances. I looked for months at kitchen pics prior to buying and I really, really dislike many of the current trends, such as HUGE kitchens, HUGE islands (yuk! I hate islands), and massive expanses of cabinets.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 6:21PM
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It's like researching haute couture (LOL) either make do with off the rack, earn a huge amount of money...or learn to sew!

Same thing with Houzz/Gardenweb kitchens...either make do with standard kitchens, earn a huge amount of money...or learn to DIY :)

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 6:41PM
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I'd guess the average American is looking for a decent amount of counter space. Recent appliance with a big fridge and an oven with enough room for a turkey and some sides. Even if they have never, and will never, cook Thanksgiving dinner I think the ability to do so is ingrained in the American psyche. Other than that I do think lots of people have been conditioned into thinking they need granite and people seem to like an pretty open space with room for friends and family.

The average person isn't looking at kitchens the way we do. They just want something relatively modern that fits them and their family.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 6:41PM
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I noticed that in every place that I shopped before settling on my cabinets/design/etc. (Lowe's, HD etc) the idea that I did not want an over-the-range microwave was met with surprise -- I take that as meaning the average American find the OTR m/w desireable.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 10:41PM
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My kitchen is like jgopp's photo except for the sink. My bar/counter is different, I have a counter top across from her sink where my sink is and the bar is about 8 inches above that counter, 2 different levels. I need tall bar stools. I like small kitchens with everything in easy reach.

This post was edited by EmmaR on Fri, Jul 11, 14 at 23:01

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 10:59PM
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raee: I think part of it is how people have just become accustom to that being the common feature in a house. My mother redid her last kitchen in a style I would consider upper-mid level remodel (somewhere around 35-45k custom cabs, pricey granite, etc). She didn't even think twice about doing a OTR micro. It is also really easy to get them like that in appliance packages which I think a lot of buyers spring for due to the savings.

I also think that a lot of people on here see range hood and think they need one (or really want one due to the look), but I believe a lot of the newer OTR micros vent fairly well. And if you're not into cooking like you're about to set the house on fire, read: 500+ degree searing meats, wok cooking, etc. you don't really NEED a 600CFM+ range hood. Heating up a pot of pasta and a jar of prego like my grandparents did, you'll be plenty fine with OTR micro.

I find it crazy when people on here always worry about makeup air *which I understand is a serious issue for some* but very few people can convince me that they need a 1500CFM+ range hood. A large majority of Americans cook in a way that makes these frivolous upgrades a want item, not by any means a need. And if you're thinking about a remodel on a tight budget you settle for what works, and works well.

I also think that when most Americans go shopping for a new kitchen they end up at the places most people shop. Lowe's and Home Depot display things for a good price, decent looks, and functionality. I think most people are perfectly happy with buying something from those stores.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 11:06PM
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Sounds like staying away from Houzz is a good thing. Think I've tried looking at it maybe twice, but could only handle about 45 seconds before it just made me tired...
I agree with whoever said the average buyer is probably looking for adequate counter and storage space, newer appliances and cleanliness.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 11:21PM
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I live in a 15yo neighborhood of 4Br/2.5ba homes. Many of our neighbors have updated their kitchens - by putting granite on their 15-year-old builder grade thermofoil cabs. Those updated homes are selling fast.

I'm an oddball b/c I refuse to spend the money for granite w/o updating the cabinets and fixing the layout. Too much wasted space, too much peeling thermofoil.

When we bought this house, the white laminate + white thermofoil cabs did not bother me. But the lack of counter space did. And now, 3 years in, the lack of drawers is driving me nuts!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 11:51PM
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suska: Looking at Houzz is great for ideas if you don't get too caught up in the perfection of it all. It can really make you insane (and probably your Interior Designer and Contractor if you're striving for perfection).

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 12:03AM
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I was happy with my kitchen except for my floor after I changed my appliances until I visited this Kitchen Forum, went kitchen cabinet shopping and started to look at Houzz. My tastes have changed in looks and seeing how a kitchen should function.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 1:43AM
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ravencajun Zone 8b TX

For myself
1. Usability, access, convenience
2. Work surface area and storage space
3. Quality appliances
4. Easy cleaning

Granite is definitely not an essential, and not my top choice. I would prefer to use the money on better quality appliances and cabinetry and flooring.
I definitely do cook and think that depending on what areas of the country you are looking at the average number of people who actually cook will change considerably, and therefore so will what they are looking for. For example, In the deep South, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, and the other Gulf Coast States that average would be pretty high. And what they want would pertain more to the actual usability and convenience and work space. Not as much as the trendy stuff. Impress with what comes out of the kitchen not how trendy it appears.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 4:37AM
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So my question is this: is my vision skewed from being here, or have American tastes changed THAT much in such a short time?

It's being here and Houzz and Pinterest ... most people aren't as design-obsessed.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 6:50AM
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From selling houses before the number one negative feedback I've gotten about the kitchen had to do with size. They wanted one that was bigger. Actually that was about the same for other rooms too - bigger master bathroom. Bigger yard. I couldn't do much about that without annexation.

From what friends who are buying are looking for I'd say, something that looks like it's been changed up recently, or are otherwise kept up with. That has little regard to quality though (eek!) or much anything else. They're all buying their first place though, and their expectations would be different than they would be for someone who's been there / done that. I can't say I was any different on my first time. The second time I targeted quality of materials and workmanship, and the most recent move I cared more about having a slate that could be wiped clean since what I wanted does not really exist in this city.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 6:57AM
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Houzz keeps getting brought up and yes that's where we see the $100k kitchens, but I think many more people are exposed to HGTV. Don't you? And on there, there's not the talk of function, much. There's 'here's how you can get it to look pretty' (usually on a budget). And there's House Hunters and the like where you see people buying houses in different parts of the country and at different price points with different wants and needs. But almost everyone wants:
-open floor plan/space

I think it was Food Network that recently had it's 25th anniversary and I am just guessing that HGTV wasn't far behind. So we have a generation of young home buying adults for whom it's been around all their lives. And we have people my age for whom it's been around most of their adult lives.

I'd put my money on it for changing expectations more over time than Houzz.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 10:09AM
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You are right that there is probably a lot more exposure to HGTV than to Houzz.

But I think the same problem exists on HGTV as it does on Houzz, because of the shows that are not real estate oriented (which most of them are now?), they are based upon a crew coming in and having a budget that is highly influenced by getting everything at a discount and getting an awful lot of labor for absolutely nothing.

My mother watched these shows and Trading Spaces and asked me once "What could you do to update the Living Room for $2,000 in a weekend?" And I said "order all new lampshades?" (This was a living room that had trim on the drapery that was $93 a yard 25 years ago, you couldn't do anything cheap without it looking ridiculous--and cheap).

"How about the kitchen?" and I said "Buy a new fridge."

It still raises expectations because they are going for maximum visual impact and providing totally free labor and that's not how it works.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 11:24AM
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I wish these shows would say that if the labor would be paid for, what the total kitchen would have cost to give us all a wake up call since I am seeing how much labor is and many times in my area, it seems to be more than the cabinets in removing the sofit and cabinets, installing the floors, doing lighting and installing the cabinets and drawers.

All the kitchen designers are so surprised that I do not want to replace my 2009 beautiful Zephyr Range Hood with an over the range Microwave to free up counter space. I do not wish to get on a step stool every time I need to use my microwave as I am only 4'10" tall.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 11:43AM
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Have to disagree that Houzz / GW impact is overrated for average joe.

While several of homes viewed will usually have overall good basics (spaciousness, storage, up to date, location) the average joe will like, theres always that one with that particular thing that makes they buyer love, feel compelled to have / buy it. .

THAT house! The one with with the (fill in the blank) - maybe incredible kitchen or gorgeous deck/ backyard or living rooom with amazing view. that makes buyers feel compelled to buy..

Average buyer may not be looking for a home with overall GW / Houzz status but think they stiill need to be wowwed by some aspect which converts them to take my money already, got to have it.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 11:56AM
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This is probably what a lot of people run into with budget overruns, on the learning curve of how much the non-material costs amount to.

" All the kitchen designers are so surprised ... I do not wish to get on a step stool every time I need to use my microwave as I am only 4'10" tall."

Sounds like you are dealing with salespeople, not *designers*. If I recall correctly, this notion came up before with another issue you were having. Make sure you know which type of help you need, and which you are getting.

This post was edited by snookums2 on Sat, Jul 12, 14 at 14:14

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 12:04PM
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Jgopp, I agree with you about venting the kitchen. I don't need that kind of venting because, while I do that kind of cooking, I do it all outside. I wouldn't consider doing the kind of cooking that needs serious venting IN the house. Being in the south/ southwest, we have lots of friends with outdoor kitchens of some sort. From basic camp setups on the patio to kitchens outdoors that are even nicer than their indoor kitchens. If I stirfry/blacken/cook anything with much scent/etc - it goes outside. And the money that I will save by not doing a "Houzz" inspired kitchen upgrade will allow me to really get a workable outdoor kitchen. Guess who is painting her cabinets??? lol! I think sometimes people on here forget/don't realize that there is a percentage of us that don't do a lot of our cooking indoors.

And it is funny - I see this exact same kind of thing going on with swimming pools. "I was going to just replaster the pool for $5,000, but I looked online and I just spend $60,000 for a pool upgrade." For most of us we would be just about as happy with the $5,000 plaster as we are with the $60,000 upgrade.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 1:55PM
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I think I straddle the fence now between a GW-type person and average. In both previous houses, the kitchens were 40+ years old, with bad layouts, without working ventilation, and metal cabinets that were one inch from the ceiling and that inch was filled with grease (I scraped grease off things in the one kitchen with putty knives and razor blades). They actually smelled bad like rancid grease.
They *really* needed to be renovated.

Anyway I obsessed over both kitchens, spent too much money for the price of the house, and pretty much enjoyed every bit of it.

In this house (about 50 years old), everything needs to be renovated but the kitchen was probably done about 8-10 years ago and literally never used. (The broiler pan was still attached to the oven rack with cardboard and plastic and the DW had a box of soap in plastic inside.) I think she used the fridge and maybe the stovetop.

So it wasn't new when I moved in and it wasn't beat up either. It's super cheap, white melamine cabinets, white formica countertops, white and black appliances at the lowest end of the scale. The broiler door is wonky, the DW door is wonky but everything works well and it's all white so it's not something hideous, and it's the first kitchen I've had that wasn't filthy when I moved in.

It works, the layout is reasonable, it's not ugly and while I know it has to be done, I am in no big hurry like I was in the other houses. When I actually DO do it, I will probably obsess over it all over again because it's me doing it this time.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 2:34PM
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Well whatever you put in today will most certainly be "tacky" tomorrow. Well not actually tomorrow but you know what I mean...in a few years. I can't imagine anyone rich enough (other than a celebrity) to renovate every time the styles change.

Most of the people posting here are doing so because they are all into it, most people just want a kitchen that looks OK and things work and a decent amount of space. I don't know anyone that could afford most of the kitchens posted here.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 10:37PM
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With regards to one of the OP's questions:

"...(also, how do I post pictures?)..."

The Kitchens Forum's FAQs has this information and more!

FAQ: How do I post pictures?

Here is a link that might be useful: Kitchens FAQ Page

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 1:16AM
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Regarding OTR MWs...my sister had an OTR MW in her old kitchen and when she recently remodeled, she put in a "high-end" OTR MW (her DH insisted he knew best for all design elements - I silently groaned when I saw many of them - but he's a controller and he had to have complete control over the kitchen remodel even though he does not cook or clean up).

The new "high-end" OTR MW/vent does not work very well at all. It doesn't even cover the back burners completely, let alone the front burners! My sister made corn-on-cob and the steam from the water wasn't touched by the so-called vent on High. Copious amounts of steam billowed out into the kitchen and the rest of the house adding undesirable amounts of humidity and heat to an already overheated & humid house!

The need for a stronger vent depends on the type of cooking you do and, to some extent, the BTUs put out by your cooktop/range. Yes, a 400 or so cfm hood is probably fine for someone who only boils water and doesn't fry/stirfry, but it should be deep enough to cover all the burners on the cooking surface - this usually means a hood that's 24" deep, as well as at least the same width of your cooktop/range (most are 30" or 36"). (If the cooktop/range is on an island or peninsula, then it should be 27"deep and 6" greater than the width of the cooktop/range.)

If you do much cooking - and that includes making sauces, steaming veggies, frying, stirfrying, boiling water, etc., then a good vent with a few more cfms is very useful (600 to 900 or so is probably sufficient for all but those who actually grill indoors - those people may need to go even higher). It cuts down on internal pollution, stale cooking odors, excessive humidity, smoke, grease (yes, grease does get into the air), etc. Increasing the width of the vent to 6" wider than the cooktop/range is also recommended in this case.

Having a decent hood also helps prevent the gunk that builds up on cabinets, walls, ceiling, etc. Without a decent hood, you will end up with a gunk buildup that consists of grease + dirt/dust. Even moist air can contribute - the surfaces become damp and dust/dirt lands and adheres to the surface, just like when grease lands on surfaces and then dirt/dust follows. I've seen it in my sister's kitchen as well as my parents' kitchen.

Most of us don't have the luxury of being able to cook outside 365 days a year, so we can't plan around an outdoor kitchen for our cooking.

As to the "average" person - I think aesthetics and "fads" are #1 and function is #2 - mostly b/c they don't know any better - they just want a "pretty" kitchen.

They don't realize that they don't have to "make do" with a dysfunctional layout to have a "pretty" kitchen. They run around barrier islands, criss-cross the kitchen for simple kitchen tasks, etc. and don't realize it doesn't have to be that way - they've "gotten used to it".

As to those islands, many people do not have room for an island, but b/c it's a current fad they have to have one anyway - we even see that (over and over) here on Kitchens. (I admit it, I was one of those when I first came here when I started my kitchen - it was through the patient efforts of several people here that I was finally able to realize my kitchen was too narrow to fit an island. So no island - and I couldn't be happier! I love my island-less kitchen!)

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 1:49AM
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My next meal . . .

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 9:48AM
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Hopefully what they could afford after they have taken care of (or at least having solid plans for) emergency fund, children's college tuition and retirement account...etc.

Having a good taste is easy, may be after a couple months of intense study and exposure, but having a budget to realize the good taste would take much longer.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 11:49AM
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Thank you Snookums2! I guess I must be talking to sales people pretending they are kitchen designers. But even contractors I talk to, do not understand why I do not want an OTR Microwave. I tell them I love my fairly new Zephyr hood that I can reach the buttons under it to turn on the wonderful lighting it has as well as the exhaust fan. It seems to work for me with whatever I am cooking and I do not want to change it. I wish I had room for an island to place the microwave in.

Thank you Buehl for this information about range hoods and OTR microwaves and cooking steam, etc.

I am having some dental expensive problems from a prior dentist and many Cardiologists visits for my little 12 years 7.5 month old Maltese, Sassy so I have not had time to get back to my kitchen and my damaged floors. But I have been buying so many crates to empty the file cabinets so they can be emptied to help the flooring store move them out of the other three rooms. I wanted to do my kitchen first but I am wondering if I just need to get the flooring insurance claim over with first.

But I am learning so much and starting to see that how everything comes together and compliments each other is what is important and not the perfect white. Also I want a kitchen that functions well that is in my budget. I had saved for a very nice kitchen but now thousands of dollars are going out for the problems with my teeth and my little "Furdaughter" so I will have to lower my budget after I see what I can do or not do. I also do not want to over improve but I want a kitchen that I will enjoy cooking in and walking in to look at or just looking at from my open family room. This site has helped me more than HGTV shows.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 2:59PM
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Buehl - I certainly didn't mean that we can cook out every single day, but on days that I can't, I throw a roast in the crock pot, or cook up some german pancake in the oven. I just don't fry fish on that day. And certainly if money were no object at all, I would have the kitchen rearranged/expanded so that a better vent would be a more doable option - but the return of investment for me personally would be miniscule. There was one unpleasant microwave incident with a child when I would have loved a better vent system. But that was once in a year and a half.

For those who cook in a way that they need them, certainly they do need them. I do wonder how many people have them and never use them. My mother has one that could suck the pasta out of the pot, but won't use it because it is far too loud. I think I have seen her turn it on twice.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 3:52PM
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I hate the microwave above the stove/no vent thing too; dismayed when I saw it in the house I bought and discovered almost all new builds are like that. If I ever have the money, I'll put in a proper vent and put the microwave . . . elsewhere. somewhere.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 3:57PM
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I don't like the microwave over the range...mainly because reaching over hot pans (especially for kids) is never a good idea.

An above counter height microwave (on a shelf or built in) is my favorite, although many like the undercounter...I just find them too low. I'm tall and don't want to stoop over and I also don't want younger nieces/nephews able to reach it.

Am I the only one, who remembers "let's put Mr. Hamster"....yikes!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 4:17PM
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I've got an over the cooktop MW and I'm fine with it. My kitchen is small and the only other option would have been on the counter and that's just not acceptable. Anything else would have involved giving up an actual oven (not happening.) I do a lot of cooking and the vent is fine. It's not as efficient as other types but it's adequate. If I'd had a bigger space I'd have done something different but I didn't so this is fine. That said, I don't have kids using it and the cooktop below it is induction so I don't have as many safety concerns.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 10:36PM
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Christina222, If I was taller and my arms were longer (I am 4'10" tall), I would have had the over the range microwave due to my kitchen being small and the type of cooking I do. But because of my height I need my microwave lower to be comfortable using it.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 12:53AM
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Well, it depends on price point. I think the only feature that is absolutely expected across the board is to have a counter that isn't tile -- that is instead some material that is entirely smooth/solid (without grout lines) for easy cleaning. I also think people really appreciate things that look roomier than they were expecting. Americans tend to like big stuff and to associate it with luxury. So if the kitchen is bigger than you'd expect in house like that, that'll always make a good impression.

I don't think the average American is particularly informed or design-minded, so they'd be looking to hear buzzwords like "granite counter tops" and "stainless steel appliances" and "custom cabinets" and "solid wood" and "new."

I think it matters less if it's actually really unattractive granite that doesn't go well with the cabinet color, or if it's a crappy, unreliable dishwasher.

That said, while most don't cook much and wouldn't know what a good layout was, anybody who does cook would also be on the look out for that.

I am an enthusiastic baker, so how the work spaces are laid out is the first thing I notice aside from the general feel of a kitchen (calm, light, clean, etc.). I look for large swatches of uninterrupted counter, and I look at how someone else might use part of the kitchen while I'm in there too without getting in my way.

I would run screaming from one of those tight u-shaped kitchens. They only accommodate a single cook. And I really dislike features that eat away at usable counterspace -- upper cabinets that come all the way to sit on the counters, split-level peninsulas/islands, appliance garages, etc.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 3:29AM
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I always enjoy these kinds of threads, seeing differing opinions from across the country (one of the benefits of this forum is we are a mixture of incomes and locations.)

I think it also depends on region, a lot. It does seem from posts here that most would agree average Americans are not looking for a tile countertop. However, here in southern NM, tile is by far the norm, even in new homes. I'm talking half million dollar homes, starter homes, across the board. It's completely acceptable (from a resale point of view.) I review listings frequently for this question, as we consider how to replace our aging Formica. There's quite a difference between what I read here, and what is true for my own city.

Which only makes questions like these more complex and interesting to kick around!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 12:22PM
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robo (z6a)

My husband is the cook (cooks frequently) and dearly wanted an OTR micro. It was the only thing he had his heart set on that I overruled. He still hates the micro under counter but doesn't complain about it unless I ask.

I see OTR micros in almost every house here including $1,000,000+ new builds. My in-laws' very nice and spacious kitchen has two tall pantries, two custom hutches, giant island, prep sink, bar fridge...and an OTR micro.

Based on HGTV I would say granite and stainless steel. Based on the local market I would say both wood and white kitchens are popular and laminate is not a deal-killer here even in higher end homes (our higher end city homes tend to be older).

This post was edited by robotropolis on Mon, Jul 14, 14 at 12:30

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 12:29PM
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mudhouse: I live in southern NM (sort of) and my entry level new build had granite look formica. Which I'm pretty happy with, although I would not have chosen that color. No tile counters in new homes that I've seen. Sometimes it's a particular builder or group of builders that promotes a style, and usually for cost reasons rather than true style or functionality.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 12:53PM
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I didn't want an OTR microwave simply because 1) I didn't want to reach over a stove in use to use it, as I often use both in preparing different elements of a meal, or reach up and back the extra few inches 2) didn't want to have to reach up there to clean it (and I am of average height). Inefficient venting was a 3rd but lesser consideration at the time. I could not have put the $$ into a top end OTR unit (in terms of venting ability)

I put my MW on a shelf in the pantry at about shoulder height.

I got an off-the-shelf not expensive hood, which barely hits 400 cfm if that (don't really remember) because it was pretty, fairly quiet, and had the most CFMs for my budget. Now that I know a bit more, in a year or two, if I see a good buy, I may replace it with something a bit stronger because I do stir fry quite a bit and know how the grease floats through the air.

Granite did seem the most practical material for me, that is partly why I ended up with it, and that may be also partly why so many really do want it -- we've lived in homes with the cut up, worn and stained formica/tiles -- even though it is still a more luxurious choice compared to the price of most formica. So more solid reasons than just fashion.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 6:20PM
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I started our kitchen remodel with the idea - er, dream - that I could do it for 25k. That's what I spent in 1996 to gut (to the studs) and move all of the gas/water lines in a 16x18 size kitchen. Flooring, cabinets, appliances, plumbing, lighting, electrical - all of it.

My new kitchen is about 2/3 that size and will end up costing close to 2x that.

Inflation and location are part of the increase, but I've grown and changed too. Quartz vs formica, stainless vs. black, higher end appliances, more elaborate tile & floor ... and an island with a waterfall counter ... so my tastes and desires have increased.

I think everyone has to do their own math and come up with their own value proposition - what's it worth to have "A" vs "B" - not necessarily what will hold or increase the value (unless you're planning on selling soon, in which case you're almost guaranteed to not recoup the investment).

In the end, when I can finally walk in the door and look at the lovely new kitchen and say "ahhh"... that has a lot of value for me :)

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 2:12AM
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