After countless walkthroughs of new construction homes, pouring over construction blogs, and watching more HGTV than I care to admit, I am excited to present some great new trends we're seeing in home construction. Whether you're looking to build your dream home from the ground up, or just looking for some ways to upgrade your current home, here's some great ideas that will ensure that your home pleases the masses (and you, of course!).
1. What Walls?
The number one way that builders are maximizing space is by saying sayonara to all those walls, especially in living/entertaining areas. An open layout is by far the #1 feature that my clients discuss on their wish list for a new home, and for good reason; an open floorplan allows for so much more freedom in decorating and design choices, and creates a wonderful flow in a home. The best benefit of an open layout is that it can make a space appear SO much larger than it really is and it allows for seamless entertaining (and who doesn't want to have better parties?). You can prep dinner for all your friends while they interact in the living room, and never miss a beat because you won't be separated from them. Now that's what I call a Hostess with the Mostess! One word of caution; don't get inspired and decide to knock down your walls haphazardly. You have to be certain the walls aren't load bearing, and if they are, it's not always as easy as just "putting in a beam" like you hear the designers on TV shows say - make sure you talk this one out with a licensed contractor before taking the hammer to those walls. Your ceiling and roof will be happy that you did!
2. BRINGING THE OUTDOORS IN
Great outdoor living space is a wonderful way to maximize your entertaining area when you're limited on square footage, and we are seeing a huge boom in some AMAZING landscaping trends (more on that in another post soon!). Home owners are taking full advantage of these great outdoor spaces by implementing floor-to-ceiling windows and doors that truly make you feel like you're outdoors, even from the comfort of your living room couch. Seamless windows, french doors, and my personal favorite - folding accordion doors, are making this outdoor/indoor lifestyle possible. Previously seen mainly in closets and small living spaces, accordion doors work just like they sound; they fold into themselves, just like an accordion, to allow for a temporary "wall" of sorts that you can fold back. Shifting into the exterior walls, however these doors are a stunner, and give the impression that your exterior walls have gone away, leaving you inside with unobstructed access to your killer yard. If you're looking for a "wow factor" in your home, THIS. IS. IT.
3. CENTERING AROUND THE HEART
You've probably heard the saying, "the kitchen is the heart of the home," because it's the best place for families and guests to gather and interact. It is the area of your home that you use the most, and builders have become more aware of just how vital this room is to making a house into a home. Many floor plans that are built today make the kitchen the true focal point of the home, rather than sticking it in the back or in a corner like you see many times in older homes. Large islands that allow for seating have become commonplace, which allows for multiple uses - imagine cooking dinner while your kids are doing homework at the island with you, rather than separated in their bedrooms - talk about family bonding! Bachelors and bachelorettes, don't fret; just because you have a great island doesn't mean you need to settle down with a family any time soon; a well placed kitchen with good flow makes parties a breeze - the only problem you'll have is getting those friends of yours to leave!
4. Clothes Horses, Celebrate!
Anyone who knows me knows this trend is a MUST in a home. I can tell you right now, when I walk through a home with buyers (especially couples) and they see a walk-in closet in the master bedroom, the stars align! Large closets are rarely seen in older homes, so if you have the space to incorporate this into your home, DO IT! It is a fantastic selling feature, even if you don't have the need for all that storage space, most buyers do. Not only have our wardrobes gotten significantly larger over the years, but design trends have become much more minimalist, which means home owners would rather store items like clothing, bags, and shoes in a closet, away from view, than have a large, bulky dresser or wardrobe taking up space in their bedroom. Almost every new construction home has this as a feature in the master bedroom, if not in all the bedrooms, so it is a feature that most old homes fall short on. If you don't have space to grow the closet in your home, maximizing storage in a basement or shed is a must; do away with the creepy cinderblock walls and bad lighting, though; invest in some built-in storage, drywall and flooring in this space and this will quickly become a room that every buyer will be happy to have.
5. Laundry - the chore that demands more
Laundry rooms have surfaced from the creepy basements and have started taking over prime space in the home. Once a feature that was a bonus to even have at all, laundry rooms have now become a place for home owners to do so much more than just wash clothing, and their standards for the laundry room itself have upgraded, as well. Built-in cabinets, folding tables, sinks, and even additional office/work space have become standard in new construction when it comes to the laundry room. Clean freaks are really excited about this trend, but in my opinion, this is an even bigger benefit to messy homeowners; with a clean, bright, large laundry room, home owners can hide their dirty clothing messes here, and keep the rest of the house looking sharp. We are even seeing laundry rooms installed into master bedroom closets, which means that your mess will never have to leave the bedroom! The only word of caution is that small homes generally won't find a benefit from adding a formal laundry room; when space is already an issue, you're better off utilizing the square footage for extra living space (or even closet space) and keeping the laundry room in the basement or a small closet.
6. Sending Siding to the Sidelines
While vinyl siding has been a very common material for home exteriors, new construction is shifting away from it. While it is a very affordable alternative to building your home out of brick, for those looking for quality and aesthetic, vinyl is lacking in both. There are many alternatives that can add to the durability of your home and not compromise your curb appeal. HardiePlank is a great option; it is made from cement fiber, so it lasts MUCH longer than traditional siding with virtually no maintenance. While it is about 30% more expensive than other siding options, most companies will provide at least a 30-year warranty on the product, so over the life of the home it more than makes up the cost difference. You can customize it into virtually any color you want, as well. If you want to steer completely away from the siding look, cultured stone is a fantastic option. It is much lighter than real stone, so installation is a breeze, and these options generally come with warranties up to 50 years. Even if you don't expect to be in your home for 50 years, the resale benefit is great with these products because a buyer is going to have peace of mind about the longevity of their home when they move in.
7. Masterful Addition
Homes with dual masters have become very common, especially in higher-end homes. Technically, a bedroom can be considered a "master" when it has an attached bathroom, and home buyers are enjoying the benefit of having more than one in the home. It's a great feature for a guest room since guests can have a private place to stay that they don't have to share with the rest of the house. This is an especially great feature if you don't have the space for a full mother-in-law space, but you want to rent out a room in your house or have a long-term guest like a parent (or that pesky child who won't move out of the house). Dual masters are most effective when located on opposite ends of the house because of even more added privacy.
8. Commercial Comes Home
As a self-proclaimed foodie, I personally LOVE this trend. For the chef in all of us, a commercial quality kitchen is the best way to feel truly upscale in your home. Commercial-grade equipment such as gas ranges with hood fans, large stainless steel sinks, and french door refrigerators are popping up more and more. Additionally, many owners are adding special equipment such as built-in woks, flat-top grills, pot-fillers, and blast chillers. If you're stuck with a small footprint in your kitchen to add in these features or you're on a budget, you can still achieve the same effect with a couple of small changes. If your home is wired for electric, instead of spending the money to plumb a gas line, invest in an induction cook top; it cooks more evenly than gas - the only catch is that you need induction-specific pots and pans for the unit. Another quick, easy way to improve the look of your kitchen is to install an interesting pot rack above your stove; it's easier and cheaper than installing a hood fan, and it's useful, too!
If you're considering buying a new build or doing a large remodel on your home, hopefully these tips and trends will inspire you to bring your home to the next level.
The next 2015 trends post will be on Landscaping Trends - keep an eye out!