Home renovation projects include multiple elements. A look at the top home improvement-related purchases shows how many people are approaching updates.
Paint is by far the most common purchase among renovating homeowners, with 65% choosing it. A majority (51%) also purchase light fixtures during their project.
Faucets and shower heads (46%) moved back into the top three purchases after dropping into the No. 4 spot in 2020. Also frequently bought: lawn and garden supplies (45%), building materials (40%), noncarpet flooring (38%), cabinet and door hardware (36%), major kitchen appliances (32%) and sinks (32%).
Decor accounts for a large portion of updated elements. More than half of homeowners (55%) decorated their homes in 2021.
Almost half of them bought rugs (48%) and pillows and throw blankets (47%). Large furniture is a top purchase as well (39%), though the category dropped by 5 points in 2021 compared with 2020. Artwork also decreased by 3 points, to 39%.
Other popular interior decor purchases include small furniture (39%), window treatments (35%) and lamps (32%).
And decor isn’t confined to the indoors. Around a quarter of homeowners bought outdoor lighting (27%) and large furniture (24%).
Meanwhile, some renovating homeowners found themselves in a festive mood last year. A little more than a quarter (26%) of them bought holiday decor in 2021, a 4 percent increase from 2020.
Speaking of outdoors, apart from decor, homeowners updated their outdoor grounds, structures and systems. Renovations to outdoor spaces hit a peak in 2020, with 57% of homeowners tackling an outdoor project. In 2021, that share dipped slightly, to 54%.
Beds and borders were the most commonly updated outdoor features, despite dropping by 7 points, to 28%, in 2021 compared with the previous year. Lawn upgrades also saw dropped by 3 points, to 17%, in 2021 compared with 2021.
Outdoor security updates rose by 3 points year over year, to 17%.
Some remodeling upgrades aren’t the kind you can see, but are no less important to a well-functioning home than the visible kind. Nearly two-thirds of homeowners (63%) update home systems.
Around a quarter of renovating homeowners upgrade the plumbing (27%), electrical (24%) and automation features (24%). A fifth address security (21%), cooling (20%) and heating (20%) components.
Median spending on some of these areas has increased. Electrical upgrades jumped by 50%, to $1,500, in 2021 compared with the previous year. Security updates also spiked by 25% year over year, to $500, in 2021.
Homeowners make many renovations to their home exteriors as well. Slightly more than a fifth of renovating homeowners (21%) upgraded their roofing in 2021, a 3-point increase from 2020.
A fifth of homeowners also updated their exterior paint; a fifth also updated windows or skylights. And a similar share upgraded exterior doors and gutters or downspouts (18% each).
Median spending increased for all exterior building upgrades, for some more than others. Spend on roofing increased 11% year over year, to $10,000. But exterior door spend saw a 50% jump year over year, to $1,800. Spend on gutters or downspouts increased by 40% year over year, to $1,400. And spend on windows or skylights increased by 25% year over year, to $5,000.
Homeowners purchased a variety of indoor and outdoor electrical and tech systems for their 2021 renovation projects. Light fixtures were the most popular (51%), followed by indoor TVs (29%), alarms or detectors (25%) and thermostats (23%).
Smart security cameras for outdoor areas were the most popular smart-tech feature that renovating homeowners bought in 2021, chosen by 21%, followed by home assistants (19%) smart light fixtures (14%), smart thermostats (15%) and wireless doorbell cameras (14%).
The kitchen is the room homeowners most frequently remodel. Some 28% of renovating homeowners give the kitchen a makeover, and 1% of those create a kitchen addition. Guest bathrooms and other nonprimary bathrooms are the second-most-frequently updated rooms, with 26% of homeowners remodeling one of these spaces; 2% of those create a bathroom addition.
About 1 out of 5 homeowners (24%) remodels or adds a primary bathroom, and 21% do the same with a living or family room.
And just as renovation activity has hit its highest rate in four years, so too has renovation spending. The right side of the chart seen here shows median spending amounts for various interior room projects, as well as the year-over-year increases from 2020 to 2021.
The median spend on a kitchen remodel is $15,000, a 25% increase from 2020. Guest bathroom spend is up 38% year over year, to $4,400. Living room spend rose 33%, to $4,000. Laundry room spend also increased 33%, to $2,000. And all other rooms except closets saw year-over-year increases in median spending.
Keep in mind that the median means that half of the people spent more and half spent less; it’s not the average. Economists like to reference the median, or midpoint, figure rather than the average because the average can be skewed, can be volatile year over year and can be misleadingly high or low because of a single project that costs far more or less than others.