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What Homebuyers Want in 2021: The Hottest Kitchen, Bath, and Outdoor Trends in the New Year

Matt Winzenried

Matt has worked in Real Estate since 2005. He has experience in changing markets and economies...

Matt has worked in Real Estate since 2005. He has experience in changing markets and economies...

Jan 20 6 minutes read

If there is one thing 2020 taught homebuyers, it is the need for their homes to be a relaxing and enjoyable spot where they enjoy spending large portions of their day.  Not shockingly, most of the 2021 home trends revolve around storage, privacy, and functionality.


In 2020, no room was used more often than the kitchen.  Generally considered the hub of the home, the kitchen doubles as a space for entertaining, work, and of course cooking.  But the most used area of the kitchen is the island.  While a staple feature of kitchens for decades, in 2021 it is going to be the focal point of the kitchen.  And with good reason.  A large kitchen island allows for additional counter space and an extra area for family members to work and congregate throughout the day.  With so much revolving around the kitchen island, it's no wonder that 64% of buyers are looking for a kitchen island in their home. Multi-tier countertops are a 2021 trend that add dimension and usefulness to a kitchen island.  Dual levels establish designated meal prep areas and lower level eating and/or work areas.  Kitchen islands in 2021 won’t just offer functionality, they will offer an artistic focal point of the room, whether that be through ornate design or vibrant colors. 

While the kitchen island is the focal point, the unsung and purposely unseen heroes of the kitchen are the storage areas. Walk-in pantries and cabinet storage are the second (62%) and third (57%) hottest 2021 kitchen trend. Walk-in pantries, whether big or small, serve as an area for additional food storage. No more rummaging through cluttered cabinets when food is organized in the pantry. Since food is stored neatly away in the pantry there is ample storage left over in large kitchen cabinets for all the airfryers, instapots, and spirazliers that families relied on during the pandemic.     


Just as the island is the central focus of the kitchen, the vanity will be the focus of bathroom remodels in 2021. Gone are the days of small, one sink vanities that offer little storage and even less counter space.  2021 home buyers are looking for double vanities that make a statement. Think large overstated pieces with detail and architectural elements instead of small clean lined minimalist pieces. It’s a bonus, if the vanity provides the additional bathroom storage space that 18% of buyers are searching for.  In addition to bolder and bigger vanities, home buyers in 2021 are looking for a more customized and luxurious shower experience. The second most sought after bathroom upgrade is a rain showerhead (39%) followed closely by a double shower head (37%).   The number one remodel to avoid in the bathroom is carpet. A massive 72.6% of agents said bathroom carpeting would dissuade buyers from purchasing a home.  Instead, look for ceramic and porcelain tile which continue to be popular among homebuyers.  For an added increase in selling potential, adding heating to bathroom floors will increase buyer interest especially if you live in the Northeast or Midwest.   

Outdoor Areas

Outdoor areas continue to be an extension of the indoors in 2021. Three specific outdoor trends topped the list of the most desired outdoor upgrades sought by homebuyers in 2021: a fire pit, privacy, and a full outdoor kitchen. Fire pits were ranked by agents as the number one outdoor renovation in 2021, with 54% of agents citing it as a feature that buyers would like to see most in an outdoor space. Not surprisingly, the Northeastern and Midwestern states have a larger number of home buyers interested in fire pits than do warmer climate areas such as the Southeast and Pacific areas.  Nevertheless, outdoor firepits make a great focal point for a warm inviting outdoor seating area. With a variety of sizes, shapes, and heating capabilities, a firepit can be used simply as a decorative item or as a fully functional area for roasting marshmallows and keeping warm on brisk evenings.  

A backyard oasis cannot be fully enjoyed without plenty of privacy. In 2021, buyers are more motivated than in previous years to include privacy fences into their home buying wishlists. Forty-eight percent of agents indicated that privacy is a feature homebuyers would like to see in an outdoor space. The methods of creating a private outdoor atmosphere are endless. Anything from standard wood privacy fences to living walls and from pergolas to back patio curtains can create a more intimate private outdoor area.  Finally, outdoor cooking areas used to be small and compact with a limited amount of appliances. With the surge of COVID-19 and a trend toward outdoor home renovations, backyard kitchens are getting major overhauls. Buyers are interested in full outdoor kitchens that include a sink, grill, fridge, refrigerator and ample storage. Outdoor cooking areas that have room for dining whether that be at a table or island add to the outdoor eating experience as it creates a fluid open concept dining experience for family and guests.  

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