A home is a haven where you create cherished memories, express your unique style, and live out your daily routines. Is a home in the U.S. much different than one in the U.K.?
To find out, we went on a journey to uncover the subtle and not-so-subtle differences in home living experiences between these two nations. In this article, we’ll analyze the lives of 1,003 homeowners, including 500 U.S. and 503 U.K. residents. Below, we unravel the preferences and aspirations of homeowners on both sides of the Atlantic.
- U.S. homeowners are 36% more likely than U.K. homeowners to fight with household members over thermostat settings.
- U.S. homeowners spend more on home decor annually ($1,270 on average) than U.K. homeowners ($1,049 on average).
- If money wasn’t an issue, 63% of U.K. homeowners and 61% of their U.S. counterparts would prioritize upgrading their kitchens.
- 33% of U.S. homeowners and 27% of those in the U.K. want to add smart features to their homes.
Lost in Translation
Let’s begin by examining variations in terminology for household items and rooms between Americans and Brits.
Despite sharing a language, homeowners in the U.S. and the U.K. often call things by different names. Almost everyone said a place where you wash up is the “bathroom,” and more than half named the place where you store food the “kitchen cabinet.” But every other category we studied had top terms unique to each country.
For example, a place to store your clothing in the U.S. was most often deemed a “closet,” while across the pond, it transformed into a “wardrobe” (well, how else would Lucy get to Narnia?). The kitchen centerpiece, the “stove,” earned its title from 91% of Americans, but 81% of Brits referred to it as the “cooker.”
When it’s time to relax, 78% of Americans will cozy up on the “couch” indoors, while 74% of Brits prefer the soft embrace of their “sofa.” Outdoor spaces also took on different names, with 85% of U.K. homeowners calling it a “garden” instead of the American “backyard.” But perhaps the best British slang we unearthed was “thingamajig,” which 1 in 10 homeowners playfully call a remote control.
Living Together in Harmony
Continuing our exploration of home living experiences, we’ll now dive deeper into the currents of daily life to see what’s causing ripples of tension in American and British homes.
Keeping a home clean and functioning—inside and out—can be overwhelming. It can also get tense when household members don’t agree on how things should be done.
We discovered that cleaning responsibilities were the most common pain point for all survey respondents, no matter where they lived. Second on the list for Americans was battling over thermostat settings. U.S. homeowners were 36% more likely than U.K. homeowners to engage in temperature-related disputes. And while only 18% of Gen Z homeowners admitted to fighting over the thermostat, baby boomers were the most likely to engage at 38%.
The youngest generation surveyed was more likely to get hung up on caring for non-human members in their homes. Gen Z homeowners were an astonishing 67% more likely than other generations to deal with tensions about pet care.
Pet care didn’t even rank among the top responses in the U.K. Instead, the next most pressing issue for U.K. households was divvying up chores in a way that made everyone happy. To keep the peace, don’t ever ask them to clean the oven, as that was the No. 1 hated chore among them. Americans, on the other hand, most dreaded facing the porcelain throne. See what other chores were most disliked below.
Looking at it through the lens of generations, Gen X agreed that the worst chore is cleaning the toilet (48%). Meanwhile, Gen Z balked at removing hair from clogged drains (45%). Lastly, baby boomers (50%) and millennials (42%) disliked cleaning the oven the most—maybe someone should remind them about the self-cleaning setting so they can just set it and forget it.
A Battle of Interior Design Preferences
Are trends in American and British interior design similar or different? Let’s take a look at their top preferences for color, decor, and style.
U.S. and U.K. homeowners like to keep things simple, with both groups preferring a warm-neutral color palette overall. Softer shades like tranquil hues and beige blush were also popular. Unique to the American style was a blank canvas color scheme, where the room is basically white-washed, while the Brits were more likely to go all out on pastels.
As for interior design preferences, both groups were drawn to using neutral decor, warm woods, and natural materials in their homes. Where they differed was in their ranking of design styles.
Americans more often opted for minimalism as an interior design style, while Brits favored traditional over minimalist design. Also unique to American home preferences were the following:
- Midcentury-modern style
- Mediterranean style
- Outdoor kitchens
- Boho style
U.K. homeowners also noted that they like herringbone floors, wall paneling, and Scandi maximalism—none of which American homeowners ranked highly.
Additionally, U.S. respondents allocated an average annual budget of $1,270 to home decor and interior design, slightly surpassing U.K. homeowners, who spent $1,049 on average. Results also showed that 1 in 6 homeowners refresh their home interior design at least once per year, with U.S. homeowners being 75% more likely to do so.
Prioritizing Home Investments
If paying for it weren’t a problem, what parts of their homes would people renovate today? Kitchens, bathrooms, and outdoor spaces emerged as the areas homeowners would love to transform.
If cost didn’t matter, 63% of U.K. homeowners and 61% of their U.S. counterparts would prioritize upgrading kitchens. Often the heart of a home, kitchens can serve as the focal point where homeowners can express their unique styles and create lasting memories. Interestingly, about half of all homeowners also said they would consider investing in a second home.
Narrowing their dreams down even further, we asked respondents exactly what they most wanted to improve in their homes.
When it came to investment decisions, some were keen to invest in technology, with one-third of U.S. and 27% of U.K. respondents wanting to add smart features to their homes. Installing new hardwood floors was also on all respondents’ home improvement lists, but only the British ranked adding a laundry room at the top, suggesting that these spaces aren’t as widely available in the U.K.
From amusing word choices for household items to the tension over chores and thermostat settings, we hope you’ve enjoyed this journey into home life on both sides of the Atlantic. Questions about future homeownership linger as the world and interior design continue to evolve. Will British and American language and home preferences become more aligned in our increasingly connected world and as expats move overseas, or will we cling to what makes us unique? Only time—and perhaps a future study—will tell.
For this campaign, we surveyed 1,003 homeowners to explore home living experiences in the U.S. and the U.K. Among them, 500 were from the U.S., and 503 were from the U.K. The generational breakdown was as follows:
- Baby boomers: 17%
- Gen X: 38%
- Millennials: 42%
- Gen Z: 3%
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