The most coveted home features by generation revealed - and it wasn't what we expected

Millennials and baby boomers have totally different priorities when it comes to their dream home

pale blue kitchen with island and white tiles
(Image credit: Neptune)

If we had to take a guess at what the most coveted home features of 2021 might be, we'd put our money on modern kitchens and bathrooms. Who doesn't want a gorgeous airy kitchen with tons of kitchen storage ideas or a luxurious free-standing bathtub? 

New research has broken down the four top features: a large backyard, a modern kitchen, smart home features and environmentally-friendly features.

large backyard of a traditional property

(Image credit: Getty)

While we still dream of a newly renovated kitchen no matter what our age, the study by OpenDoor has revealed a clear shift in our priorities as we seek eco-friendly materials and smart technology. What's most striking is the difference across generations. 

Over a quarter (26%) of millennials said they wanted environmentally-friendly features, but only 8% of baby boomers felt the same. The younger cohort, so those born between 1981 and 1996, are prioritizing at-home features that are good for the planet. 

For example, they're looking for sustainably made materials and low/no VOC paint. VOC, which stands for Volatile Organic Compounds, refers to harmful chemicals in some paints that reduce indoor air quality. Other eco home features include drip irrigation for saving water, solar panels and tankless hot water heaters.

solar panels on a roof

(Image credit: Alamy)

As digital natives who grew up on MSN and MySpace, millennials also view smart features as important in their dream home. This includes things like speaker hubs, appliances, doorbells and security cameras.

20% of millennials said smart home features would be important to them, compared with 2% of baby boomers. Those born between 1946 and 1964 aren't so fussed by speaker systems connected to the WiFi.

They're much more interested in modern kitchens (45%) and having a large backyard (16%) with plenty of space for dream garden design ideas. We don't blame them. But with Amazon Alexa devices and Ring doorbells becoming increasingly popular, we're surprised the older cohort's interest in smart features was so low, particularly as they bring a level of safety and security.

gray home office with wooden desk

(Image credit: Alamy)

One interesting insight from the research was that from generation X to baby boomers, a small percentage of around 5% of people voted for a home office. We certainly wouldn't say no to a dedicated space to work. 

A calm, quiet room with the best office chair and a door to shut ourselves away while doing Zoom calls sounds like a real luxury. But it's true that many are now returning to workplaces and perhaps the rest of us have simply adapted to working at the kitchen table.

Millie Hurst

Millie joined Real Homes in January 2021 as a homes news writer. When she isn't writing about trends, makeovers and houseplant care, she spends her free time making tweaks to her rented flat in North London. Her next project is a very basic armchair reupholstering job to help create a cosy reading nook in her living room. She loves browsing antique centres, tending to her small front garden, and is never without some fresh flowers at home.