Does design lead lifestyle or does lifestyle lead design? Following the trends of today can seem like hitting a moving target at times. It is important to note the way in which we are living today to understand WHY we are moving in the direction we're heading. Here are 10 trends driving the housing market and why they accommodate all walks of life for today and tomorrow.
1. Casual Lifestyle Living
Buyers continue to forgo formality in favor of living more casually in a large, unified living space – space they will actually use! Whether it’s the classic Lifestyle Triangle (family room/café/kitchen) or the Big Room concept with all three spaces in a line – this is where the action takes place!
No surprise here, kitchens have become the central hub for gathering and entertaining. Today’s kitchens feature solid-surfaced counter-tops and large islands for friends and family. The fireplace used to be the gathering place for family and friends. Don't worry, the fireplace isn't going away! But now that we are spending so much time in the kitchen, the island is the real star of the show, so make it something special! Consider a variety of shapes, finishes, and colors. Don’t skimp on the pendant fixtures, they are a visual exclamation point for the island.
With everyone gathered around the kitchen, how do you minimize the clutter? Where do you hide the everyday small kitchen appliances, stage your food prep out of sight, or stack the dirty dishes throughout the night to keep the party going? The secret to a stress-and-mess-free kitchen is the accompanying Messy Kitchen. This is the utilitarian working space that handles much of the dirty work to allow the showcase kitchen to shine.
4. The Living Room? Take it Outside!
Outdoor living... Whether you live in sunny Florida or upstate New York, casual outdoor living is no longer an afterthought. Give them a reason to go outside, thinking beyond the simple 10’ by 12’ covered space! Consider three distinct functions including cooking, dining and lounging. Dress up the space with an outdoor fireplace and/or flat screen TV. Those in colder climates can take a cue from restaurants and add space heaters – built-in or portable.
5. Spa-like Baths
Think bigger than the 3' by 3' shower, it should have enough room (and water) for two people! Provide a seat, frame-less glass and the ability to upgrade their shower head. If space is at a premium, dump the seldom-used tub in favor of a jumbo shower. Buyers won’t miss it. If you still need a tub, consider an elegant vessel tub. They’ve come down in price and take up less space than a deck-mounted version. Double vanities are a must, and if you can, keep them separate! The bathroom is where most start their day, so give homeowners space to collect themselves before that first sip of coffee!
6. Flex Rooms
Between HGTV and Houzz, today’s buyers are more demanding than ever before – so let them decide! Give them real choices about how they want to live in their home. It may start with a room that can flex between a study, formal dining or bedroom – which is fairly common today. But go above and beyond by offering a small flex room that can be a pet room, pocket office, beverage center or bulk storage. Customizing a small 6’ by 6’ space may satisfy the home buyer’s inner-architect.
7. Put the Utility Back into the Laundry Room
Laundry rooms are often the last space builders and designers focus on. The reality is that most homeowners spend more time doing laundry than they would like to. Expedite the routine by connecting it to the master closet! Don’t just make it barely big enough to squeeze in the washer and dryer. Make it a pleasant space to spend time – or at least a less stressful one! Forget the fold down ironing board and focus on providing ample room to hang clothes to dry. Not only is it more green, but with today’s synthetics, it’s how clothing manufacturers recommend we dry our clothes. Make sure to include a ceiling fan or exhaust fan to help the clothes dry. Space permitting, this is also a great place for our pet’s food, bed or litter box. If it’s close to the kitchen, make room for a second refrigerator or freezer.
8. Moderated Modern
Flat roofs are appealing in modern design, but they are not exactly practical in wet or cold climates. Two terms stood out to me that I heard at the International Builders Show in Orlando: “Modern Below the Plate” and “Moderated Modern”. Buyers don’t want their parents’ house, but they still want to feel at home! These styles enliven their streetscape while providing a welcoming place for owners to come home to. Instead of flat roofs and steel cable handrails, buyers are drawn to these modern interpretations of traditional styles using new and improved building products. This is exactly the approach we took with the NEXTAdventure show house that lead us to coin the look Modern Italian – a forward-thinking take on Italianate architecture.
The concept itself isn't a trend. However, with the threat of higher interest rates and inflation in 2017, now is the time to focus on making our buildings more cost-effective to build. This allows us to pass the savings onto home buyers who demand upgrades. Think about simple building forms (I like boxes) and avoid beams. Keep in mind that this is not the same as being cheap! Build smarter, not harder! Buyers prefer quartz counters over glulam beams – who wouldn’t!?
10. Fun Features
Buying a home should be fun, not a burden! Barn doors and fire pits let buyers envision how they will live in a home. Create storage in unexpected places and make it a design piece!
As evolving technologies continue to influence the way in which we live, builders have a fantastic opportunity to give buyers what they truly want. The trends of 2017 put the power into the buyer's hands and allow them to decide how their house fits THEM!