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Today’s buyers view the kitchen as the hub of everyday life and desire homes that are well-equipped with kitchen features that meet daily needs … all while offering stylish products.

Integrated (and often multiple) dining area, more and advanced storage, chic cabinetry, and durable, high-end countertops were just a few of the most important kitchen features identified by 3,247 recent and prospective homebuyers in the 2021 edition of the National Association of Home Builders’ “What Home Buyers Really Want” report.

NAHB surveyed homebuyers’ opinions on 30 kitchen features. Buyers then rated each feature by essential/must-have, desirable, indifferent, or do not want. More than half of the respondents deemed 20 out of the 30 features as essential or desirable, exhibiting a strong need for kitchens that offer maximum functionality and design.

The kitchen’s importance has grown exponentially compared to results from the association’s 2003 survey. This point is illustrated by new kitchen features topping the list since then, such as a desk/computer area, drinking water filtration, and a trash compactor. And some kitchen features, such as: double islands, sensor-operated faucets, and wine coolers, have skyrocketed in interest within the last five years alone.

Another key finding from the 2021 survey includes generational differences. Baby Boomers rated some kitchen features starkly different compared to their younger counterparts, Gen X (those born between 1965 and 1979) and Millennials (those born between 1980 to 1996). 



Most Popular Kitchen Products

The top 10 kitchen features deemed a must-have or desirable by buyers and the share of respondents who chose that feature are:

  1. Double/side-by-side sink (81%)
  2. Walk-in pantry (81%)
  3. Table space for eating (78%)
  4. Central island (77%)
  5. Drinking water filtration (76%)
  6. Granite/natural stone countertop (73%)
  7. Recessed lighting (69%)
  8. Customized backsplash (69%)
  9. Pull-out shelves (68%)
  10. Breakfast bar (64%)

Of these 10 features, the ones that were voted as most essential—meaning a kitchen without this feature would dissuade a buyer—were a double sink (42%), table space for eating (35%), a central island (32%), and drinking water filtration (32%). 


wine fridge

Signature Kitchen Suite Undercounter Wine Refrigerator

The new unit holds 41 bottles of wine in two independent temperature zones. The wine appliance features its own smartphone app, Signature Sommelier, which helps homeowners manage their wine collections with photos and labels. 

double sink

Bocchi Campino Duo 33D

The newest release from Bocchi offers a durable granite composition in three available finishes: matte black, metallic black, or concrete gray. It can be installed under-mount or drop-in, is stain-resistant, scratch-proof, and antibacterial.

Additional kitchen features desired or essential to more than 50% of respondents include:

  • Solid surface countertop (Corian, etc.) (61%)
  • Desk/computer area (60%)
  • Quartz/engineered stone countertop (60%)
  • Special use storage (wine rack, etc.) (60%)
  • Instant hot water dispenser (59%)
  • Traditional styled cabinets (59%)
  • Contemporary styled cabinets (56%)
  • Sensor-operated faucets (53%)
  • Butler’s pantry (52%)
  • Central island with range (50%)

NAHB’s findings compare favorably to similar studies from Houzz, the National Kitchen and Bath Association, Whirlpool Corp., and the American Institute of Architects

Among those commonalities, storage, or lack thereof in the kitchen, remains at the forefront of homeowners' and buyers’ minds, encompassing walk-in pantries, central islands, pull-out shelves, and butler’s pantries.


hot water dispenser

Delta Faucets’ Instant Hot Water Dispenser

Delta Faucets’ just released six styles of hot water dispensers in various designs to match with different kitchen aesthetics. It dispenses nearly-boiling water that’s ideal for beverages, cleaning, and cooking.


In Houzz’s 2021 U.S. Kitchen Trends report, the company cited an increase in storage as a result of the pandemic. Nearly all kitchen renovations performed in 2020 used as the basis for Houzz’s report included work on cabinets and an uptick in the number of walk-in pantry additions. 


cabinet storage

Hardware Resources Blind Corner Pullout

These pull-out shelves make it easy to access everything in large base cabinets. It can be installed in either left or right-hand blind corners and the heights of the four baskets can be easily adjusted.


The National Kitchen and Bath Association identified a growing increase in requests for kitchen island renovations in order to accommodate more storage and additional workspace. The American Institute of Architects also found more homeowners requesting pantries of all kinds with 45% of architects calling pantries a popular feature in 2020.


cabinet storage

Rev-A-Shelf Base Cabinet Pull Out with Knife Block and Utensil Bin

This organizer by Rev-A-Shelf holds cooking utensils, cutting mats, and knives. It features an additional lower shelf for extra storage. It works with 9- and 12-inch full height base cabinets


And for the look of cabinets, most homebuyers (33%) prefer white cabinets. Another 22% enjoy medium brown cabinets best, followed by a tie between dark brown and gray (13% for both). It’s an unsurprising finding as buyers were fairly similar with their responses in the last iteration of the survey in 2019.

Interestingly though, more repeat buyers prefer white cabinets (34%) over first-time buyers (25%). This points toward a possible demographic shift, which could influence results down the line as those first-time buyers today take over the market share.

Results for the color of kitchen appliances may also come as no surprise. Stainless steel dominated, receiving 64% of respondents’ votes compared to white (18%) and black appliances (16%). 


monogram range

Monogram Statement Collection Professional Range

This range offers multi-ring configurations and durable brass burners with 23,000 BTUs. Some models also include TrueTemp technology, where homeowners can pick a specific temperature and the gas burner will cook at that level. It can also connect to Wi-Fi and your smartphone.

bosch fridge

Bosch 500 Series Standard-Depth Refrigerator

Bosch’s new fridge for 2021 features a QuickIcePro System, advanced filtration, and 22% more space. QuickIcePro makes up to 12 pounds of ice per day, and Bosch claims it's the fastest refrigerator ice maker on the market. The UltraClarityPro water filter promises to remove 99.99% of sediments.


But one insightful piece of data comes from the preference of countertop materials. Prevailing design trends indicate light-colored countertops are very much “in” while granite countertops have been on their way “out,” yet 52% of buyers say they prefer granite or other natural stone countertops, according to the NAHB report. 


caesarstone quartz

Caesarstone Whitelight Collection

Caesarstone’s new Whitelight collection offers three light-colored quartz countertops mimicking natural marbles. The company says the collection aims to bring serenity and wellness into the kitchen.


Quartz/engineered stone countertops were chosen by 21% of respondents and solid surface countertops (Corian, etc.) were chosen by 15%. NAHB says this could be due to buyers’ lack of knowledge on the design capabilities and features of quartz, or it could be due to the price tag. Granite falls flat on delivering clean, light-colored countertops because of its natural, heavily speckled composition.