NEWPORT NEWS, VA — As the nation approaches the year-and-a-half mark of the COVID-19 pandemic, homeowners continue to reevaluate their living spaces, “with many looking for ways to put the ‘home’ back in a more functional house.”
That’s the key conclusion of a major new consumer survey conducted by Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery in an effort to better understand how the global public-health crisis impacted trends in home renovation and updates. The survey, fielded this spring on behalf of Ferguson by G&S Business Communications, involved some 1,100 U.S. adults aged 18+, according to the Newport News, VA-based distributor of plumbing, lighting and related products.
The Ferguson survey, whose results were released in July, found that 64% of Americans made an update of some kind to their home, or to a room in their home, during the pandemic. The most popular reasons for the update included being tired of the home’s current style (34%) and needing to make changes for better functionality (32%), Ferguson reported.
The kitchen (47%) and the bathroom (44%) were the top choices when it comes to specific areas of the home people would want to redesign or upgrade based on spending more time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. A growing number of Americans say they would want to redesign or upgrade their outdoor space (30% in 2021 compared to 23% in 2020), Ferguson reported.
Interestingly, the room people spent the most amount of time in last year compared to previous years was the living room (50%), with 33% of Americans working from home in their living rooms during the pandemic. A third (33%) spent more time in their bedrooms and nearly a third (32%) spent more time in the kitchen. Younger generations were more likely than older generations to say they spent more time in the bedroom and bathroom, but just as likely to say they spend more time in the living room.
“There are likely a number of reasons why the living room grew in importance over the past year, since it was used as a gathering place during quarantine, for home schooling and other activities,” Ferguson reported. “We may also see this trend, in part, because people who work from home often set up their workstation in their living rooms.”
Just over a third of respondents (34%) said they started working from home during the pandemic, Ferguson said. Within this group, a third said they have been working in the living room and a third have been working from an existing office, the company added.
Among other survey findings:
- Among those who started working from home during the pandemic, 62% made changes to their lighting in their home office space. Americans prioritized functionality over aesthetics when changing lighting in these spaces. Twenty-eight percent changed their lighting to see their work/computer better, and 22% changed their lighting to look better on video.
- Americans also spruced up their office space in general during the pandemic, creating a more multifunctional space. Eleven percent put a coffee maker in their office and 10% installed a refrigerator to hold coffee creamer, water and other beverages for easy access.
- Nearly half of Americans say they would buy smart home products to make their lives easier (49%), while others say they would buy them to save time (32%) or to improve the energy efficiency of their home (31%).
- As an example of the desire for convenience and hygiene, 41% of surveyed Americans say they would like touchless faucets in their home. Almost a third (32%) would like a refrigerator that notifies them when the door has been left open. And although bidets haven’t traditionally been standard in America, 17% of Americans say they would like a bidet in their bathroom and 26% would like a bidet seat. A quarter (25%) said they want a smart toilet. Younger generations, not surprisingly, are likely to want these products and features (see graph above).
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Supply side challenges continue to hamstring both new housing and the residential-construction trade, even as both market sectors continue to exhibit significant 2021 gains. Among the key statistics and forecasts released in recent weeks by government agencies, research firms and industry-related trade associations were the following:
HOUSING STARTS & NEW-HOME SALES
Despite recent gains in housing production, concerns linger over weakening permit numbers, a slowdown in new-home sales and rising materials costs, the National Association of Home Builders said. Overall housing starts were pegged at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.64 million units, according to the latest available figures, as strong demand helped offset supply-side challenges. Builders continue to contend with rising home prices and materials delays, as well as with shortages of buildable lots, a dearth of skilled labor and a challenging regulatory climate, said Robert Dietz, NAHB chief economist. “The weakening of single-family and multifamily permits is due to higher material costs, which have pushed new home prices higher since the end of last year,” Dietz said. “This is a troubling sign for future housing production (and) a challenge for a housing market that needs additional inventory.”
Residential construction professionals experienced their busiest quarter since at least 2015 in the first three months of 2021, with confidence among remodeling construction and design firms running high, according to Houzz Inc. The online platform for home remodeling and design reported positive results for its “Q3 2021 Houzz Renovation Barometer,” a quarterly gauge of residential renovation market expectations, project backlogs and recent activity among businesses in the construction, architectural and design services sectors. However, the heightened activity is not without challenges, according to Houzz, which reported that supply chain delays, extreme weather patterns, rising product and material costs and labor shortages “continue to create major headwinds for the industry.” In a related development, annual gains in homeowner improvement and maintenance spending are poised to accelerate in the second half of 2021 and remain elevated through mid-year 2022, according to the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA), released in by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. The LIRA projects that annual growth in home renovation and repair expenditures will reach 8.6% by the second quarter of 2022, with annual expenditures expected to exceed $380 billion.
Existing-home sales, despite several months of declines, were up 22.9% from a year ago, and available supply has improved in recent months due to gains in housing starts and existing homeowners listing their homes, the National Association of Realtors reported. “Home sales continue to run at a pace above the rate seen before the pandemic,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Washington, DC-based NARI, which pegged the latest seasonally adjusted annual rate for resales at 5.86 million units. Total inventory was down 18.8% from a year ago, while unsold inventory is down year to date, from 3.9-month supply in 2020 to a 2.6-month supply at the same time this year, the NAR added.
Reflecting gains in new construction and residential remodeling, domestic shipments of major home appliances continued their rebound from the impact of COVID-19 in the first half of 2021, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers reported. According to the Washington, DC-based AHAM, an April-to-June spike of 23.7% over the same quarter a year ago was largely responsible for an overall year-to-date gain of 26.6% in major appliance shipments compared to the same six-month period in 2019. First-half gains were posted in all key product categories, including food preservation (+31.6%), home laundry (+27.7%), cooking (+24.1%) and kitchen cleanup (+17.4%), AHAM noted.
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San Francisco, CA — When you hear that your clients recently moved from Japan after having lived in Tokyo for two decades, it might seem logical to incorporate Asian influences into the renovation of their home to make them feel comfortable. However, Jeni Gamble knew they wanted a different approach.
“There would be no bamboo, no shoji,” says the founder/creative director and LEED AP/NCDIQ at gamble + design in San Francisco, CA, who worked in collaboration with Arrow Builders to remodel this home in the Presidio Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. “That would have felt too contrived. Instead, they were interested in learning more about their new city and creating a home that reflected that area. They also wanted to keep the renovation within the community, so they were also very interested in meeting and working with local artisans who could show them something new.”
Subtle, carefully crafted details
With a sophisticated design eye, Gamble’s clients wanted to transform the previously gaudy and heavily ornamented home into one that showcased a pared-down elegance and serenity imbued with subtle, carefully crafted details and custom pieces from California artisans.
“The home previously had a ton of layered ornamentation,” says the designer. “That may be okay for an old historic home. But for my clients’ home, with its more modern architecture, it just didn’t make sense. So, we stripped away the applied finishes and brought the home back to its original architecture.”
As such, gone was the hodgepodge of random, highly patterned tiles that made up the kitchen’s backsplash. Gone, too, was the painted blue floor – which was stripped and returned to its natural walnut state – as well as the overabundance of matching blue elements that overtook the room.
In their place, Gamble brought in materials and finishes that provide texture and depth, such as the Jura limestone countertops that reinforce the feeling of nature, along with the custom white oak cabinetry from local cabinet maker Bachmann Woodworking.
“We love working with white oak,” says Gamble. “It’s a staple for us because of its density. We also love it because it has a very fine grain pattern, which offers warmth when allowed to show through the stain. Often, we play with stain, but for this kitchen, rather than allowing the wood to take on a yellow cast, we purposefully lightened it to control the color palette. We also carried the oak throughout the rest of the home, using it for the dining room table as well as the staircase.”
The designer accented the lightened cabinetry with end panels and frames for the tall cabinetry, painted with Farrow & Ball’s deeply hued Hague Blue paint.
“Blue was everywhere in the previous kitchen,” she says. “Our clients do like blue; they just didn’t want so much of it, so we toned it down. The blue color also serves as a ‘bookend’ for the cabinetry. I often like to bookend, or sandwich, elements to give them a beginning and an end. Sometimes I use different materials or finishes. In this case,
I used the blue paint.”
Gamble also used the dark shade to draw attention to the custom niche she created within the refrigerator/pantry wall.
“We like to incorporate niches into our designs that can be used as coffee or tea stations,” says the designer. “They have become a signature feature for us. Carving out a space that can be used specifically for this purpose helps keep the counter clear so it doesn’t get cluttered. Often, people’s favorite part of the day is their coffee, so we like to celebrate it!”
To fulfill the desire to highlight local artisans, Gamble accented the cabinetry with custom knobs and pulls, crafted by Marin County’s Alice Tacheny. The blackened metal is on-trend with current kitchen design and matches the MGS Black Steel faucet and trio of peninsula pendants from Michael Anastassiades’ Brass Architectural Collection.
While the living room offers views of Presidio and the Golden Gate Bridge, the kitchen grants glimpses to the homeowners’ outdoor living space. Patio doors provide physical entry to the barbecue/seating area, while their transparent glass offers visual access to a large painted mural of a mountain range. Boasting calming shades of grays and whites, the mural also serves as artwork for the kitchen and gives the homeowners some privacy from their neighbors.
“Having a kitchen adjacent to an outdoor space is always coveted,” indicates Gamble. “For these clients, their outdoor courtyard is sheltered for barbecuing and is quickly accessible from the kitchen prep area.”
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AUSTIN, TX — Cabinets Plus USA, the kitchen-related franchising operation headquartered in Austin, TX, has changed its corporate name to Cabinet Q as part of a nationwide expansion effort.
The expansion initiative, which launched last month, will enable the newly named Cabinet IQ to rolling out its franchise program, replicating its business model nationwide, the company said.
“The Cabinets Plus USA brand has been a robust and fast-growing fixture in the Austin, TX area (and) has become well known for its step-by-step system to provide quality, service and design in kitchen and bath remodeling,” said company owner Michael Hartel. “Strong demand for services has spurred our growth, and this name change better reflects our position as the most innovative cabinet and kitchen remodeling company, and now franchise opportunity.”
The rebranding does not affect any existing orders or projects, the company said, adding that corporate ownership, billing address, shipping addresses and invoicing information remain the same.
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