Born in the early 80’s to the mid 90’s, Millennials are a rising group of roughly 90 million adults. These adults have proven to be impressive homeowners and knowledgeable consumers. In 2017, they accounted for one-third of all home purchases, and whether interacting with home designers to make their kitchen and bath visions a reality or tackling DIY projects, they are changing the game in the homeownership and design fronts.
Growing up in an era with such technological advances as the internet and the smartphone, Millennials have embraced the convenience of having these tools at hand. Instead of face-to-face meetings with home designers, Millennials have adapted to using their smartphones to communicate and make notes. “They’re the clients who are going to open their garage door or turn off the alarm from their phone when they’re coming down the block,” says Toni Sabatino, designer, and owner of New York City-based Toni Sabatino Style. What used to be never-ending research in different color schemes, styles and layouts have now turned to Millennials accessing the information themselves and gaining inspiration from design sites like Pinterest and Houzz.
By using these sites, Millennials save time and confusion by already knowing what they want. Their unlimited access day or night to Pinterest and Houzz boards provide them with thousands of images in varying styles, colors, layouts or products. Bridgette Bennett, a designer at Signature Kitchen and Bath Design in Cupertino, says that ” [Millennials]..like to emulate or ‘re-create almost exactly'” the images they see. This is much different from previous generations (Generation X or Baby Boomers), who relied on face to face meetings with designers for that information. Designers are reinventing themselves as well and are no longer restricted to the use of design boards, fabric swatches, color wheels and other materials they’ve had to accumulate over time. Now the Millennial homeowner can literally create their dream kitchen utilizing technology to select specified colors and products, thus eliminating a lot of the guesswork and creating a clear path for the next phases.
With all this intensive research, Millennials have a good sense of cost and will spend where they find value. They trust the designer’s expertise but still want to be involved in product procurement. Ebony Stephenson, CEO of Newport News, VA.- based Designs by Ebony, advises designers to be transparent about the budget with their clients. If there is a highly pursued piece that the client is interested in, the next step would be finding where you can be flexible within the budget.
“What a big kitchen you have?” is the question a lot of guests will be asking in these Millennials homes. Most of their remodeling dollars are spent on open-concept kitchens. These kitchens are gaining popularity because they are geared towards entertaining any and all house guests. Must-have features of an open-concept kitchen are oversized islands with plentiful seating and multiple outlets integrated into the island. The oversized islands must be placed strategically, otherwise, it could visually create a smaller space. The kitchen should flow seamlessly into the adjoining rooms and coordinate with the rest of the home. Additional features that some designers have found helpful are a board for pinning school notices and household tasks, some drawers for takeout menus and miscellaneous items and a wall-mounted docking station for a tablet.
Numerous articles have been written about Millennials, some not so favorable. However, it was unwise to use those articles to dismiss this creatively powerful demographic. Designers should be reaching out to Millennials and get comfortable working with them because they are the new consumers, and they wield their product knowledge on the latest innovations and their budgets with the precision of a well-oiled machine.