What products and design elements are in hot demand this year? Some are surprising: quartz moving in on granite, master bath tubs falling out of favor. Others are extensions of what’s already popular: open floor plans getting more open, universal design continuing to gain ground.
These were among the trends shared by Denise Dersin, editor-in-chief of Professional Builder magazine, during a presentation at the International Builders’ Show Feb. 4. Based on her discussions with builders and what she observed among the winners of Professional Builder’s 2014 Design Awards, here’s what she sees dominating wish lists this year:
1. Open Wide(r)
The demand for open floor plans is here to stay—and getting bigger. The kitchen, great room, dining areas, and workspace are more and more essentially the same room. Kitchens are shedding their upper cabinets, with open shelving and larger pantries making up the storage difference.
2. Flex Appeal
It’s no secret—with the rise in open floor plans has come an abandonment of the formal dining room and living room. But families still need those spaces a couple times a year. Flex areas—rooms that serve multiple functions and can shift over time—are taking a more prominent place in the home, Dersin said. Minimal changes allow the space to morph from den to dining room to mother-in-law suite.
3. Islands: Large and in Charge
Busy homes revolve around the kitchen island, which now must serve as cooking prep zone, eating area, and homework station. Naturally, this means they’re getting bigger. To keep larger islands from becoming “aircraft carriers,” Dersin sees designers employing elements such as varied heights, contrasting colors, and fold-down leafs.
4. Let There Be Light
Demand for daylight is a trend that’s been hot for some time, particularly as energy costs rise. Builders and designers must continue to incorporate ways to allow natural light further into the home, such as with larger window walls and through creative use of transoms on exterior and interior walls.
5. A Place for Everything
Open floor plans can lead to clutter, so storage near the door has become a must-have, whether a full-on mudroom with cubbies and laundry or a simple drop-zone with a desk, phone-charging station, and coat hooks.
Though granite is still in demand, Dersin sees buyers also leaning heavily toward solid surfacing, quartz, soapstone, and even paper composites. She also sees color preferences headed in two opposite directions: softer and lighter or solid black.
7. Slab on the Back
Single-slab backsplashes, such as those made from marble or glass, are replacing the once-popular subway-tile look in the kitchen.
8. Bye, Bye Bathtubs?
At one time, a master bathroom without a tub/shower combo was unthinkable. But Dersin is observing a reversal, with many new homes doing away with tubs in the master entirely (provided there’s a tub somewhere else in the house). If there is a tub in the master, it’s generally a stand-alone version rather than a built-in, she said.
Luckily for baby boomers, universal design products such as grab bars and lever-handle faucets have shed much of their cold, industrial appearance, allowing for aging in place without losing the feeling of home. Other elements, such as wider doorways, low-threshold showers with stylish built-in benches, and drawer appliances, are hardly noticeable at all.
10. Defining Outdoors
Where the inside is getting more open, Dersin sees the outside space becoming more segmented, with smaller, dedicated entertaining spaces replacing vast expanses of lawn. Add heaters and partial enclosures to make those spaces useable nearly year-round.
To see more examples of trends, check out the winners of Professional Builder’s 2014 Design Awards.
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