These Were the Most Popular Home Upgrades During the COVID-19 Lockdown

by Christy Bieber | Updated July 19, 2021 - First published on March 13, 2021

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that pay us a commission. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.
A fancy bathroom featuring a soaking tub, open shower space, and large skylight.

Image source: Getty Images

Which rooms got the most attention from Americans renovating during the pandemic?

Americans have spent months hunkered down in their homes during the great lockdown. As such, it's not surprising many people began to organize renovations. In fact, two surveys conducted by Discover Home Loans in both March and August of 2020 revealed more than half of homeowners had home upgrades planned.

A good number of homeowners reported their renovation plans were on hold due to financial concerns resulting from COVID-19. However, a lot of people either still already moved forward with home improvement projects or will likely do so when their finances stabilize.

So which upgrades were the most popular according to Discover's surveys? Here are the four most favored renovation projects.

1. Kitchen and bathroom upgrades

Kitchens and bathrooms are always popular rooms for remodeling, and this remained true during the pandemic. The surveys show that 31% of homeowners indicated they'd be remodeling their kitchen, and the same percentage said they'd be working on their bathroom. Altogether, that means 62% of remodelers are working on one of the two.

Often, these rooms are upgraded to provide a fresh new look or install better fixtures and finishes. But with more people cooking at home during the pandemic, it's possible that kitchen renovations were especially popular because people wanted a more functional space in which to prepare meals.

2. Adding or improving home offices

As many people began to work remotely instead of going into an office, a growing number of homeowners became interested in creating a nice space to work. In fact, Discover reported 18% of people planning a renovation intended to improve their current home office or add one they didn't have before.

3. Replacing difficult-to-clean surfaces

Cleaning and disinfecting also became more important than ever this year. Some homeowners understandably became frustrated with the areas of their homes they couldn't fully clean. This likely explains why 11% of renovators indicated they would replace hard-to-clean surfaces with better alternatives.

4. Installing air filtration systems

Upgrading a home's air filtration system became a very popular renovation this year, for understandable reasons. Among those planning a project, 9% indicated their goal was to make the air in their home cleaner with a new filtration system.

This may not be the most glamorous renovation, but it fits with the fact that as many as 62% of renovating homeowners indicated they were driven by a desire to improve their homes' health and safety features.

Thinking about upgrading your own home?

If you're among the majority of Americans thinking about a home upgrade, you may want to change one of these aforementioned aspects of your house. Or you may have an entirely different agenda based on how lockdown has changed what you need in your space.

Regardless of what upgrades you're planning, it's important to shop carefully for the right contractors and plan your renovations carefully. This means not over-improving for your neighborhood and sticking to a budget.

If you need to finance your renovations, make sure you explore all your options. Shop around for the right type of loan, whether it's a personal loan, mortgage, or another route. Then compare quotes from different lenders, so you can avoid overpaying to improve your space.

Or, better yet, you can save up the cash in a high-yield savings account and pay out-of-pocket so you won't owe any interest at all. That way, you can enjoy your new space without getting stuck paying bills for months or years to come.

The Ascent's Best Mortgage Lender of 2022

Mortgage rates are on the rise — and fast. But they’re still relatively low by historical standards. So, if you want to take advantage of rates before they climb too high, you’ll want to find a lender who can help you secure the best rate possible.

That is where Better Mortgage comes in.

You can get pre-approved in as little as 3 minutes, with no hard credit check, and lock your rate at any time. Another plus? They don’t charge origination or lender fees (which can be as high as 2% of the loan amount for some lenders).

Read our free review

About the Author