Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Patti Cowger, Demystifying Design: The numbers behind kitchen and bath renovations
Demystifying Design

Patti Cowger, Demystifying Design: The numbers behind kitchen and bath renovations

  • Updated

To quote a survey conducted by Hausera, a newly launched online kitchen/bath specialty retailer, “Homeowners across the country – and across all age groups – are highly active in renovation, with eight in 10 having remodeled a kitchen, bath or laundry room in the past two years, and six in 10 having plans to do more in the next two years.” This survey involved 1,000 homeowners and was conducted between July 25 and Aug. 6 of last year.

Of those participating, 41 percent said that their reason for renovating was due to a major lifestyle change such as accommodating a shift in family size or due to a disability or aging. Thirty-eight percent cited a desire to increase property value prior to selling and another 38% wanted to improve the functionality of a space.

On average, half of those surveyed plan to buy “smart” internet-connected products for their kitchen, bathroom or laundry room in the next year. This includes lighting systems, hands-free faucets and Wi-Fi-enabled refrigerators.

Roughly the same number plan to buy “green” or environmentally-friendly features in the next year. Of those, the most wanted products are energy-efficient lighting, energy-efficient dishwashers and water-conserving showerheads, toilets and faucets. Sidenote: while the intention of water-conserving fixtures is to do just that, not all do, especially if a home has low water pressure. Do some research to ensure a product holds up to its claims.

What about style preferences? Some 51 percent opted for a modern kitchen, bathroom or laundry room; 30 percent chose contemporary, 29% traditional, and 28% eclectic.

Another sidenote: “modern” is an actual style also known as “Mid-century” and was popular in the 1950s with roots in 1920s Art Deco. “Contemporary” is sometimes erroneously equated to modern, but contemporary is what is popular at the current time. In the 1950s, ‘modern’ was ‘contemporary.’ In the mid-to-late 19th century, Victorian was contemporary. “Traditional” is based on 18th- and 19th-century British and French style.

Here’s a record-breaking third sidenote: I suspect that the majority of homeowners who answered “eclectic” didn’t know how else to describe their renovations. They most likely include a mix of things and are not grounded in any one style. As I wrote in a previous column, “An eclectic style is hard to describe and even harder to create. It’s a careful mix of treasures, travels and memories reflected in furnishings and techniques. And, it usually takes years to develop.”

How much did these projects cost, and were they worth it? The following numbers come from Remodeling Magazine and are averages that refer to major, not minor, renovations during 2019. Napa was not included but Santa Rosa and San Francisco were. In Santa Rosa, mid-range kitchens cost $76,000 and had a 72% return on investment. High-end kitchens cost $150,000 and had a 57% return. A mid-range bathroom was $25,000 with an 80% return and a high-end bathroom was $77,000 with an 85% return.

In San Francisco, mid-range kitchens were $83,000 and had an 88% return while high-end kitchens were $160,000 and had an 84% return. Mid-range bathrooms cost $28,000 with an 88% return and high-end bathrooms were $84,000 with an 83% return.

In 2018, the costs in both cities were slightly lower while the returns were slightly higher in most cases. Two statistics stood out to me: in San Francisco, mid-range kitchens were $79,000 and had a 99% return on investment and mid-range bathrooms were $25,000 with a 121% return.

A missing and unquantifiable number is the enjoyment that homeowners who continue to live in their renovated homes feel. How much daily joy do they experience living in a space that has been aesthetically and functionally improved? If you are contemplating a change in your own home, the key to success is to plan, plan and plan. Then review your plans. Great preparation will save time and money and will also promise great results.

Patti L. Cowger is an award-winning, credentialed, Napa-based interior designer and owner of PLC Interiors. For more information about her design services, visit her website at call (707) 322-6522; or email

Make your house a home

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News