On Saturday night Bridge and I went on a picnic with old friends of ours. The main topic of conversation? They wanted to talk about how they recently installed solar panels on the roof of their house. They'll be saving about $100 a month on their electric bills. They also talked about the screened-in porch they added last year. And, oh yeah, they were fixing their gutters, too. But they didn't want to talk about that. Fixing gutters is boring.
Meanwhile, we had nothing to say, because the only thing we've done to our house recently is repaint the deck -- and that's even more boring than fixing gutters. So we fell back on talking about the bathroom remodel we did a few years ago -- because it's more interesting to talk about new tile, a new glass shower door, and a fancy rain showerhead, than it is a $30 bucket of paint from Home Depot.
Our experience squares with a recent report from the home-remodeling web platform houzz. They did a survey which found that younger homeowners are more likely to redecorate their homes, which involves things like curtains, paint and carpeting, while older homeowners are more likely to take on major home remodeling projects involving new cabinets, new flooring, new appliances and fixtures. And, since there are far fewer Millennials who are homeowners, Baby Boomers are the ones driving the market.
And so what are people talking about? Fancy home remodels, not routine repairs. Boring old home maintenance is the least popular activity in the houzz survey, no matter how old you are.
So what is the favorite home-renovation project? The kitchen. (By the way, I've read elsewhere that granite countertops are "out" and other solid surface countertops such as quartz and Corian are back in. Now, when they rediscover old-fashioned vinyl . . . that's when I'll be back in fashion!)
After the kitchen, the next favorites are: hall bathroom; then family room; then master bathroom. The least favorite remodels? Finishing the basement, converting a room into a home office, improving the laundry room or dining room.
The average kitchen redo, according to houzz, runs around $30,000 to $40,000. But it depends on where you live, how much you do, and how big your kitchen is. The range goes from a fairly modest $12,000 all the way up to $50,000-plus.
It may not surprise you to find out that Baby Boomers spend more, on average, than their children. Boomers typically spend $40,000 to $50,000 for a major kitchen remodel, compared to $20,000 to $40,000 for homeowners age 25 to 55.
It also may not surprise you that outdoor improvements are more common in the south and west than the midwest or northeast. Among the most popular landscaping projects: Upgrading gardens and borders; decks and patios; improving the lawn; adding fencing and pathways.
The least popular? Greenhouses, hot tubs, swimming pools and art features.
Another interesting finding from the survey: more than half of over-60 homeowners plan to stay in their current residence indefinitely, rather than move to some other state or into a retirement community. And the majority of these people have either recently done renovations to their home, or plan to do so in the near future. For example, in the kitchen many are reconfiguring the layout to improve accessibility -- widening doorways, installing seated work areas, as well as easy-to-reach storage and easy-to-operate faucets.
Popular upgrades in the bathroom include grab bars, raised toilets, shower seating, slip-resistant flooring, and removing trip hazards such as throw rugs.
But finally, in my own defense, what does the survey say is the product that most people actually plan to purchase within the next six month? Is it new flooring? New countertops? New tile? No. Less than 20 percent of homeowners are planning to buy a kitchen appliance, or install carpeting in the next six months. But 40 percent of homeowners say they will be buying paint. Plain, old, boring paint. So they can join me out on my deck, and we'll be boring together.