Selling To Millennials: Home Buying Habits and Design Preferences

As the largest up and coming generation of the modern era, the millennial market holds major purchasing power. However, many designers and retailers fail to understand the true needs and desires of the millennial market. In turn, this can lead to misaligned marketing messaging that misses out on closing the deal.

To tap into this lucrative market, here’s what you need to know about the needs and preferences of this largely misunderstood generation.

Millennial Home Preferences

Millennials may have different political and social views from that of former generations, but their design and home buying preferences are surprisingly aligned. In similar fashion to their grandparents’ generation, millennials are choosing to buy and live in homes with shared community amenities, such as townhouses. One reason for this is because millennials value walkability in a home, Patricia Garcia at National Association of Home Builders writes.

Homes that are within walking distance of restaurants and shops are a big plus, as are those near metro and bus lines. This trend ties into what is perhaps the most important millennial preference: the need for a high quality of life. Millennials consistently demonstrate that they aren’t willing to sacrifice a lower quality of life in exchange for their dream home.

In fact, finance blogger Ashley Chorpenning says millennials value quality of life more than anything else. This means that their dream home is one that meets their lifestyle standards and their budget.

Size and Space

Millennials are also seeking space in their homes. Brittney Morgan at Apartment Therapy highlights research from Zillow to prove this point. Specifically, she explains that this desire for larger homes makes millennials similar to older generations; the difference is that millennials are skipping what used to be the traditional first step: a smaller, starter home.

In addition to wanting larger homes, millennials also prefer an open floor plan that is well-designed and emphasizes form over function. Those surveyed said they wanted three to four bedrooms and at least two or more bathrooms, according to real estate writer Camilla McLaughlin. It’s also important to the millennial market that at least one of these bathrooms is spacious enough to include all the essential amenities.

The team at Marsh Furniture says that one in four homeowners choose to increase the size of their bathroom as part of a remodel. And according to a Houzz report, 35 percent of millennial homeowners would opt for a larger bathroom in a remodel or when deciding between homes.


One of the core ways millennials differ from previous generations is that they value individualism. Rather than sensible, cookie-cutter floor plans and appliances of the past, millennials want homes that exude uniqueness and personality. Jonas Carnemark of Bethesda-based design and build contractor CARNEMARK explains that millennials seek materials that help them stand out. Avoiding traditional molds and builder-grade materials, millennials want original pieces that reflect their personalities.

In fact, personalization is so important to millennials that they are much more focused on personalizing their home than on its long term value, Wanda Jankowski, editor in Chief at LDB Interior Textiles, writes. Personalization of the home’s style and layout is what drives millennials to buy a home, and they’re less interested in making choices that will help sell the home later on.


Technology also plays an important role in the lives of millennials, and they’re learning to incorporate it into their homes as well.

McEnearney Associates Realtors explains that devices like Alexa and Google Home are becoming a more regular part of millennial homes. This has created the need for a central hub from where the devices can be operated throughout the home, and will play an increasingly important role in home life as the years continue.

Another reason that technology-enabled automation has become more popular is due to the fact that technology and eco-savvy design go hand in hand. Maggie Winterfeldt, Popsugar editor, explains that since millennials are more eco-conscious than previous generations, technology plays a more important role in their everyday lives.

Meanwhile, smart devices are becoming more popular in the kitchen, supporting the desire for entertainment by providing music and video on demand. Thermostats and other connected devices are also playing bigger roles in bathrooms and bedrooms, according to marketing specialist Eugene Aronsky. In turn, millennials are seeking homes that can accommodate these needs.

Interior Design Preferences

As for interior design, certain trends and styles are more popular among millennials, with mid-century modern being the most common. Hoskins Interior Design explains that mid-century modern aesthetics are great for millennials because they provide ample bright light, natural wood finishes, and a clean, simple look. Neutral color palettes and an earthy feel is also common in mid-century styles, which supports the millennial desire to live a simple life closer to nature.

Likewise, natural building materials are making a big splash with millennial homes, and wood elements are especially important for creating a neutral and comforting environment. According to brand strategist Stacy DeBroff, it’s also common to mix and match natural materials with more industrial ones. Faucet handles in varying rustic finishes along with farmhouse-inspired sinks are examples of how to achieve this look.

Another way to keep things natural and clean is to opt for the color gray, Barbara Ballinger writes in the Chicago Tribune. Varying shades of gray, along with neutrals and whites, have gained popularity due to a surge in Scandinavian design. Characterized by clean, fresh walls and bold pops of color, Scandinavian design is a perfect fit for millennials because it’s both modern and practical. Plus, it tends to incorporate light-colored wood features that feel fresh and ergonomic.

Millennial Bathroom Design

Millennials have certain design preferences for each room in the house, and when it comes to bathrooms, Sacramento real estate agent Elizabeth Weintraub explains that they love glass and stone throughout the space. Vessel sinks are also popular, with many homeowners preferring to mount these pieces in antique dressers or Asian-inspired vanities. This generation has their say as to what faucets and showerheads should be like, and double-handed faucets, dual rain showerheads, and floating vanities with wall-mounted faucets are all the rage.

Another trend ubiquitous in millennial bathrooms is the use of subway tiles. These sleek, black and white tiles are installed on both walls and floors, Megan Ray Nichols at Inhabitat writes. They aid in the minimalist, chic look that millennials love, and effect a timeless look that doesn’t go out of style.

To meet the demand for personalization in the bathroom, many millennials are also opting for unique art pieces. Personal finance and real estate writer Michele Lerner explains that while it can be expensive to buy a unique piece of art, it can dramatically elevate the look and feel of a bathroom. In particular, a unique art piece can turn a regular bathroom space into that of a deluxe spa, serving the millennial need for a high quality of life.

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