Who Are Millennials and Why Should We Care?
According to Wikipedia, the demographic generation referred to as millennials were born between 1980 and the early 2000’s. As the largest group of current or upcoming home buyers, their unique perspective on life is impacting what design trends stick.
If you’re going to remodel your kitchen today and invest a lot of money into the project, you’ll want to be sure it will appeal to your younger friends or the millennial couple who will be your prospective buyers a few years from now.
Obviously, you’ll want to incorporate some of the things you like and need in your reno project, but consider these Top 7 Kitchen Updates to provide the best opportunity for increased resale value in the future:
1. Open Layout
First and foremost, if you’re considering a major overhaul to your kitchen, the first thing you need to do is open it up.
Gone are the days of formal, compartmentalized rooms where each has a designated purpose. Millennials typically like open floor plans with flexible living spaces. Multi-purpose areas that can transform a normal kitchen table into a laptop workstation are common. As are hosting parties where guests actively participate in meal preparation—imagine everyone gathered around a smartphone propped up on the kitchen island displaying the ingredients for a new recipe.
Of course, the rest of the guests may be a few steps away watching the game on the high-def flat panel in the living room or selecting just the right tunes to play over the Bluetooth speakers. Unfortunately, if the kitchen is walled off from the rest of the house, the two groups will feel like they’re attending two separate parties.
You may not be able to knock down walls to create the millennial dream kitchen, but you should consider opening up a pass-thru or half wall with columns. Walls are barriers to the casual lifestyle younger homeowners desire, so tearing them down (wherever possible) will open your new kitchen to even more possibilities.
2. Low Maintenance
With childhood memories of being shooed out of the kitchen while their mum scrubbed the floor or taking turns with siblings doing chores around the house, most young home buyers are anxious to make their homes as low maintenance as possible.
In the kitchen that means the majority of surfaces in the room need to be easy to clean and keep clean, such as:
Hardwood flooring is a top pick for millennials for its easy dust or damp mop clean-up. Many laminates are getting approval as well due to their durability and scratch-resistance for families with pets. A third option is fairly new to the industry, large-format glazed tiles are also gaining popularity. Kitchen spills will never stain, and the use of larger tiles with stain-resistant epoxy grout means fewer seams and less scrubbing.
Granite and quartz are nearly tied for the top selection. Both natural products look beautiful for years and offer easy clean-up. Granite occasionally requires re-sealing, so quartz may emerge as the winner among millennials. High-definition laminates give the marbling effect of natural mined products, are easy to keep clean, and cost significantly less than their solid surface counterparts.
Smooth-surface doors like slab front or shaker style blend with just about any kitchen style and are easy to wipe down. Ornate moldings and fancy handles are a thing of the past. These decorative embellishments may look nice but require extra time to clean around.
Having a built-in drainboard contains and directs water toward the sink. Hand washing items is a simple project as there’s no need to pull out a separate wire rack. Clean-up is easy too; just put the dry dishes away and wipe off the countertop.
Millennial cooks have selected a glass cooktop as the “easiest-to-clean” appliance. You will need a non-abrasive special cleaner, but a quick spray and wipe down mean more time for fun.
While the popularity of stainless steel is still strong, fingerprint-resistant matte finish and dark finish stainless are quickly replacing it as the favorite. When choosing a more budget-conscious option, trendsetters are opting for black or white appliances to match their décor.
3. Unique Styling
Nothing speaks to young buyers like a one-of-a-kind kitchen design. This generation is tired of “cookie cutter” styling and is drawn to unique decorator features and new uses for old products. Think “mix and match” or “anything goes” for this trendsetting group.
We’ve seen a revitalization of countertop backsplashes in today’s kitchens thanks to decorative and functional products like full-sheet, back-painted glass, and quartz. While the main purpose of a backsplash is to keep the wall protected from water, the backsplash is fast becoming the focal point of new kitchens. Everything from vintage subway tiles to bright-coloured porcelains to fun mosaics is being used to define the owner’s personal tastes.
From one extreme to the other, minimalist millennials are choosing to stick with the standard white cabinets but with a twist that includes one bright painted wall or island cabinets. The other group taps their inner artist with dark cabinetry and light, stone countertops. A contrasting colour for the island workstation is a must as boring “matching” paints or stains are just too old-fashioned for this group of trendsetters.
Interior designers are enjoying the fresh ideas being generated for the least-exciting fixture in the kitchen. Integrated or under-mount sinks fit the low-maintenance category perfectly as countertop spills wipe easily into the sink. Farmhouse/apron-front sinks blend the old with the new and add both vintage and modern-day features. Choose from a variety of fireclay, porcelain, stainless, or copper finishes in single- or double-bowl styles. Another great idea, if you have space, is to add a second sink in the kitchen. It separates meal prep from clean-up and makes dishwashing a snap when you have help.
- Area Rugs
Add warmth, texture, and colour with an artistic flair. Throw rugs make standing at the sink on wood or tile flooring a little more comfortable while interjecting a little youthful personality. Bright hues and patterns are displayed in all shapes and sizes. Plus, when it’s time for a new look or replacement for a stained rug, thousands of inexpensive options are quickly available online.
As you might imagine, a lot has changed in a home’s technological capabilities. Terms like “landline” and “cable” are better left to the baby boomers. Millennials are very interested in wireless service and high-speed internet, so you’ll want to make sure the best services are available in the area.
Just as the wall phone was once the central feature of the kitchen, young homebuyers are still looking for ways to keep this space the main communication hub of the home. Hide an electrical outlet strip with USB ports and standard outlets under your cabinets. A built-in shelf right below it will simplify cell phone charging while keeping the countertop free for meal prep.
Energy-Star rated appliances have been around for decades, but the new generation of appliances integrate technologies. Mobile apps help with everything from knowing when to replace your water filter to generating a shopping list while checking the camera in your refrigerator. What will they think of next?
Innovative, hands-free faucets are the wave of the future. Kitchen tasks are easier with intuitive operation, and hands-free functionality means less cleaning and better control over the spread of germs.
5. Energy Efficiency
Children of the ’80s and ’90s have grown up with a keen focus on environmental responsibility, recycling, green/sustainable product options, and energy efficiency. Consider replacing incandescent light bulbs with LEDs and CFLs. They use less energy, produce less heat, and last longer for improved energy and cost savings. Combine these with special dimmer switches and motion sensors for even more efficiency.
Energy Star® appliances, windows and HVAC systems all use significantly less energy than the previous models and have been successful in reducing greenhouse emissions. Millennial buyers will be expecting these items to already be included, so make sure they’re a top priority for your kitchen renovation.
6. Pet Centers
Cats, dogs, and animals of all types are considered family members of the new generation, so adding features designed specifically for pet care will make your home stand out from the competition. A built-in feeder station will help prevent accidents and keep messes to a minimum.
Built-in beds under an island or window seat will provide a great place for the four-legged friends to stay close to family activities without being underfoot.
To keep appliance cords safely away from inquisitive animals, consider storing countertop appliances inside an appliance garage. Prevent choking hazards from trash cans by using a trash pull-out cabinet below the sink.
Do you have a mud room off your kitchen? Consider adding a pet cleaning center. Beautifully designed, convenient dog showers keep muddy paws from tracking through the house and all the pet supplies in one organized space.
7. Organized Storage
With kitchen storage options shown on HGTV, Pinterest and Instagram setting high expectations for all homebuyers, you’ll want to make sure your new space includes at least a few of these innovative ideas:
- Automated shelving and stacked drawers
These slide to reveal a second layer of storage.
- Custom pantry
With pullout baskets, clear storage bins, and plenty of shelf space.
- Corner drawer
This is the modern answer to a Lazy Susan. Deep drawers fit diagonally into the corner to provide storage for larger, difficult-to-store items.
- Undersink drawer
Keeps cleaning supplies organized and a sliding organizer will allow you to easily see what’s stored in the back.
- Utensil drawer
A great place to keep all those serving spoons and flatware so you’ll never have to waste time finding the right tool for the job.
- Cookie sheet drawer or pullout
These odd-shaped pans are always a challenge to store. Keep a dedicated drawer or stand them up on a narrow pullout rack, so you’ll never fight to free them from the cabinet again.
- Pull-out shelves
These are a must for every cabinet. They provide easy access to pots and pans, lids, and anything else stored in the back of deep cabinets.
- Spice rack or drawer
You’ve probably accumulated a big supply of spices for your everyday cooking. Incorporate a convenient cabinet rack or store them in a drawer. Label the tops so you always know at a glance if you have the right jar.
- Rolling cabinet or cart
This is a perfect idea for a small kitchen. It can act as a countertop workstation and storage. Simply roll into place when you need it, and roll it under a counter when not in use.
Finding the perfect combination of kitchen updates can be challenging, especially if you’re trying to cater to the needs of the millennial generation. Remember to create an open floor plan, make sure it’s low maintenance, demonstrates a unique style, includes high-tech features, incorporates energy-efficient products, doesn’t forget the furry family friends, and contains plenty of organized storage.
Even if you’re not ready to move onto your next home just yet, when you are, there will be no doubt that your kitchen updates will attract the attention of the most influential buyers in the market.