has become one of the great American pastimes -- $127
billion spent in 2004, and $150 billion more in 2005,
according to Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies.
And there's no
letup in sight.
Kermit Baker, director
of the center, says that a "significant core"
of the population spends more than 50 percent of their
homes' value on remodeling and improving --
some solely to enjoy the updated space, others for investment,
hoping the outlay will pay big dividends when they sell.
Which rooms are they spending it on? Here
are some of the most popular items in home improvement
Kitchens, perhaps even more than living rooms, are becoming
gathering spaces. People want the design of the room
to reflect that, says Bill Golden, a Realtor at RE/MAX
in Greater Atlanta. Homeowners are taking down walls
that separate kitchens from dining rooms and living
rooms to create a more casual, open feel.
Doing away with Formica countertops, homeowners
are looking at more attractive, durable and expensive
options including quartz and granite counters.
"People are adding islands and [upgrading]
finishes," says Golden. "A big priority is
stainless-steel appliances. Hardwood floors are also
Whether it's a three-season porch or a patio, more people
are trying to make the space outside their house as
comfortable as the rooms inside it, according to television
Peterson, author of "Great Outdoor Decorating
Makeovers." Spaces with sinks and barbecue pits,
gas stoves, and refrigerators are increasingly popular.
"People have realized that they've
been neglecting their outdoor spaces," says Peterson.
"They're making outdoor spaces an extension of
their home by bringing the inside out." Not only
is the space more casual than a formal dining room,
it's a great way to entertain, she says.
Golden says he's seeing a movement toward large, luxurious
showers with multiple shower heads and glass enclosures
-- replacing, in some ways, the large whirlpool tubs
more common in years past. There is also a growing interest
in mosaics. In colder climates, in-floor heating and
heated towel racks are gaining popularity, as well.
Perhaps most striking is the move toward
ever-larger bathrooms. Gone are the tiny spaces of the
past, where a toilet and shower-and-tub combo were wedged
into 20 square feet. Today, homeowners favor spaces
that can accommodate a separate shower and tub, double
sinks, and ample storage.
No longer relegated to a musty corner of the basement,
home offices are bigger and brighter than they used
to be. Thanks to trends like telecommuting and the ever-increasing
demands of the office, people want to be able to work
In addition to creating spaces with lots
of light and windows, homeowners want to make sure to
have plenty of space for desks and file cabinets and
want include plenty of power outlets for electronics,
as well as wiring for Internet connections, phones and
New closets are designed to be spacious, organized and
well-lit. While one walk-in closet used to suffice for
the master bedroom, some couples are now looking for
two separate closets. The closets often include custom
shelving, clothing rods, pegboards, mirrors and even
seating. Popular surfaces include wood veneers and wood
with glass insets.
As these new styles have surfaced,
other common renovations have fallen to the wayside.
You'll find fewer people adding an extra bedroom in
the basement or garage, for instance. Overall, trends
focus on opening up and enlarging spaces, improving
finishes, and making spaces casual and comfortable.
Ready to remodel? Get ideas for your
home improvement project.
Posted: April 12, 2006