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2021 Renovation And Remodeling Trends Straight From Google

Hanna Kielar7-minute read

September 08, 2021


If being stuck at home all year taught us anything about renovations, it’s that home improvements don’t just build home equity, they can also have a dramatic impact on the quality of your daily life. We wanted to understand what made a house a home in 2020 and what renovations people prioritized after having their house become their homebase through lockdowns and remote work.

Understanding what makes a house a home could be a great tool to help you improve the resale value on your home (if and when it comes time to sell). Sometimes, it only takes a couple of small touches to really make a home stand out from others on the market and more importantly get buyers emotionally attached to the property.

We gathered data from Google Trends to analyze American renovation and remodeling trends from 2020 to help form insights for 2021 and beyond – in many ways, the lifestyle changes brought on by COVID-19 are bound to last long after life resumes to “normal.”

Home Remodel Search Overview

Spending more time at home afforded many people the opportunity to evaluate how they could improve their space – we took a look at what Americans were interested in renovating. See some overall trends that could represent the average homeowner’s thought process or timeline around the renovation process:

  • April 2020: “Home remodel ideas” searches peaked
  • May 2020: “Home renovation cost” searches peaked
  • June 2020: “DIY home renovation” searches peaked
  • July – August 2020: The months with the highest specific renovation searches
  • August and September 2020: “Renovation permit” searches peaked
  • October 2020: “Home renovation company” searches peaked

Click the button below to see our trends infographic:

In the graph below, we focused in on the main spaces of a home to see which were getting the most attention.

In the list below, we have the renovations by room listed and ranked in order of search interest across the U.S.:

  1. Kitchen
  2. Basement
  3. Bathroom
  4. Home office
  5. Garage
  6. Bedroom
  7. Attic
  8. Backyard

Which States Renovated Which Rooms?

Lifestyle, the type of house and weather can have a big impact on which projects are priorities. We’ve labeled the different renovations in a home with the state that the renovation was most popular in.

Top Renovation Trends For 2021

We expect to see a lot of trends from 2020 continue into 2021 – including the importance of personal and specialty spaces, eco-friendly modifications and outdoor living spaces. While many of these trends spurred from necessity, post-pandemic lifestyle shifts may create the demand for certain aspects, like home office spaces, to become an expectation.  

Personal And Practical Spaces

Whether you were packed in with family or completely isolated during the pandemic, there seems to be more importance placed on purposeful living spaces. There’s no arguing that 2020 was a stressful year.

There is strong evidence that your home impacts your well-being and search activity points to the desire to relax and stay occupied at home. Looking at 5 years of historical data, we saw that: 

  • “Hobby room” searches spiked in November 2020
  • “Meditation room” searches spiked in August 2020
  • “Zen garden” searches peaked in May and July and were twice as high as any search levels since 2015
  • “DIY waterfall” searches spiked in May and July 2020

Distance learning and remote work both had notable impacts on remodel and redesign trends:

  • “Homeschool room ideas” searches in August were three times higher than any search volume seen since 2015
  • “Built in desk” searches were twice as high as those in recent years and spiked in April and July of 2020
  • “Home office ideas” searches saw a steady climb beginning in March 2020 and hit a peak in August
  • “Reading nook” searches peaked in in July 2020
  • “Room dividers” searches also spiked in in July 2020

If you’re planning on selling your home, you’ll want the spaces you create to appeal to potential buyers. This is less of a concern if you’re planning on making it your forever home. If it’s a starter home or investment property in question, think about keeping renovations neutral and using decor to make the spaces unique. This will help make the process of staging your home easier.

If your space inside is limited, see what you can do with your outdoor space – strategically placed seating and lighting can really give a space a feeling of purpose.

Resale takeaway: Carve out versatile spaces in your home that can be easily transformed into a special-interest or office space. 

Outdoor Living And Maximizing Space

Searches for “outdoor living” peaked in May 2020 and were about 33% higher than any search volume peak in the past 5 years. When you’ve been stuck at home, you start to get more creative about where you hang out. We saw search trends that indicated people have been trying to make the most of their outdoor space:

  • “Outdoor dining room” searches doubled from years past and spiked in June 2020
  • “DIY fire pit” searches reached a volume two times higher than any point since 2015
  • “How to build a deck” searches peaked in May 2020
  • “How to build a pergola” searches also peaked in May 2020
  • “How to build an outdoor kitchen” searches saw a rise throughout the summer months in 2020

Search trends demonstrated that limited outdoor and indoor space was not a renovation deterrent, as seen in the rising searches around small spaces, including:  

  • “Small patio ideas” searches were twice as high in May 2020 as compared to any point in the past 5 years
  • “Small bathroom renovation” searches peaked in November 2020
  • “How to maximize space” searches spiked in July 2020
  • “Plant wall” searches hit their peak in late-September 2020

Resale takeaway: Make the most of outdoor living spaces with a focus on indoor-outdoor living and entertainment to make your home seem larger than it actually is.  

Eco-Friendly Modifications

There were some initial promising findings1 that showed the pandemic was having a positive impact on our air. We saw images of smog clearing from usually packed commuter routes and other hopeful sights. There has been an eco-conscious movement growing for years and it seems that more institutions2 are catching up.

Aside from the environmental impacts, many people felt the impact on their budgets once they saw their new electricity bills3. Parents may be feeling the effect even more. Not only are many working from home, but their kids are attending online classes, playing video games and connecting with friends online. Cooling and heating your home close to 24/7 can also cause a huge strain.

See some trending eco-home features below:

  • “Solar panel installation” searches peaked in July and August of 2020
  • “Energy efficient kitchen” searches spiked in May 2020
  • “Geothermal system” searches peaked in September 2020
  • “Smart and green home” searches like “Nest” and “recycled materials” saw a rise in 2020

Eco upgrades can help improve your home value and save you money in the long run. More and more buyers4 are interested in eco-friendly features for their homes, and with the growing support of investing renewable fuels and resources, we can project that interest in eco-conscious features will only increase. Additionally, there are incentives and financing5 to support energy efficiency upgrades – so many reasons to go green.

Resale takeaway: Invest in eco-upgrades to improve your home’s appeal and reduce your overall expenditures over time.

Take the first step toward the right mortgage.

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Specific Renovation And Remodeling Searches

When looking at some of the most popular home renovation projects, we also saw some specific searches – some were traditional, and some were more creative. “How to build _____” was a phrase that surfaced a lot, and “_____ room ideas” was also a popular phrase format.

Class Of 2020 Home Improvement Superlatives

To get even more specific, we dug into some metro and city data to explore renovation habits by area. Below, see specific searches by city along with its matching superlative.

Some people like to take home renovation to a whole new level and build their home themselves. These overachievers and handy homeowners can be found primarily in:

  1. Biloxi-Gulfport, MS
  2. Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX
  3. Panama City, FL
  4. Chico-Redding, CA
  5. Shreveport, LA

Fitness is a personal journey, but when it comes to exercise, some live for it and others tolerate it. Even with near-perfect weather to exercise outside year-round, San Diegans still can’t get enough. Below, see the top fitness-focused cities that had the highest number of searches for “home gym ideas”:   

  1. San Diego, CA
  2. Washington, D.C. (Hagerstown, MD)
  3. Boston, MA; Manchester, NH
  4. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
  5. Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Searches for “how to fix a hole in the wall” peaked at the end of May 2020. While we don’t know where the holes came from, we do know the areas where you might find the most drywall busters:

  1. Atlanta, GA
  2. Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX
  3. Houston, TX
  4. Boston, MA
  5. Chicago, IL

You don’t have to have the space or need for a grand library room to have a stunning home library – built-in bookshelves or less permanent shelving solutions will also do the trick. The top searches for “home library” in 2020 came from:

  1. Boise, ID
  2. Springfield, MO
  3. Portland, OR
  4. Des Moines-Ames, IA
  5. Green Bay-Appleton, WI

Pet home modifications are becoming more popular. Data from our internal survey showed that 27.1% of people would be willing to spend over $500 on home modifications just for their furry pal. When it comes to searches for “how to build a dog house,” here are the top locations: 

  1. Salt Lake City, UT
  2. Atlanta, GA
  3. Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX
  4. San Antonio, TX
  5. Los Angeles, CA

Searches for “Task rabbit” and similar handyperson hire services ebbed and flowed in 2020. It might make you wonder if the lockdowns forced people to get craftier and handier out of necessity or if the rising interest in renovation was more about occupying time.

No matter the project, there are many avenues to help make your renovations a reality. If traditional saving isn’t adding up quickly enough, you can refinance for renovations. Also, think of places where you can cut costs by taking on smaller projects yourself, but also be safe and recognize your limits. You should get professional help with projects concerning structure, electrical wiring and other potentially hazardous projects. 

Take the first step toward the right mortgage.

Apply online for expert recommendations with real interest rates and payments.

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Hanna Kielar

Hanna Kielar is an Associate Section Editor for Rocket Mortgage focused on personal finance, recruiting and personal loans. She has a B.A. in Professional Writing from Michigan State University.