The dominance of the open floor plan doesn’t seem to be fading. Homeowners are looking for connected spaces that allow visibility and interaction across living areas, says Kelsey Schwager, project designer at Des Moines, Iowa-based Red House Remodeling. That includes clean lines and large windows to let in natural light throughout the home.
And it doesn’t stop with the interior. Tom McElroy, principal of McElroy Architecture in San Francisco, says that the majority of his projects include an indoor/outdoor living element. “There’s usually one place in the house where people go all out, so we’ll have big sliding glass doors that will open up to say, 12 feet wide.”
One of the hottest trends isn’t just about aesthetics: Homeowners are also looking for added functionality. Both McElroy and Matt Lederer, co-owner of Chicago-based Mahogany Builders, cite increased storage as one of their most frequent requests, singling out large kitchen storage spaces in particular.
Lederer refers to such spaces as workstations. “It’s a totally enclosed cabinet, so that when the doors of the cabinet are closed everything is hidden away, but when you open the doors to the cabinets you have work space, you have electrical appliances,” he says.
“People are really liking the walk-in pantry,” McElroy agrees. “It’s great, because it can be kind of messy. Your kitchen is very much front and center these days … so I think it’s kind of cool to have a place to really tuck into.”
Make it Pop
White and gray are still popular, especially in kitchens and baths, but homeowners are beginning to venture outside of the neutral palette. Says Lederer, “People are opting to try to offset that white, maybe do different cabinet colors for the base or the island.”
Ben Trannel, Red House Remodeling co-owner, agrees that customers are more willing to take risks on feature areas, such as the island or backsplash, which allow homeowners to experiment with color in ways that are more subtle (and easily replaceable) than committing to a bright hue throughout the space.
McElroy has also seen an increase in clients willing to go bold with color choices, particularly as accents in living spaces. “For a while, everything was neutral … and whereas that’s still pretty popular, I think people are warming up to color.”
Light it Up
Gone are the days where a few overhead incandescents were considered sufficient. Schwager notes that many of Red House Remodeling’s customers are investing more in their lighting choices, where “the fixtures are kind of like jewelry and are the focal point.” She adds that the company does a lot with LED lighting, particularly in undercabinet, recessed cans, and task lighting. “People really want to be able to customize what’s on and off for how they use the space."
According to Builders Design regional vice president Lesley McCarthy, people are spending more money on lighting than she’s ever seen, upgrading fixtures and installing dimmable LED bulbs.
Tile in Style
Tiles present an opportunity for homeowners to go with a bold look, whether with the color, sheen, or shape. According to McElroy, his clients are using tile in the bathroom to make a statement, with projects ranging from a pink-tiled powder room to the use of a rich cobalt blue in the master bath.
Schwager also sees clients thinking out of the box with their tile choices. “It might be different sheens, like a really high gloss or polish.” She’s seen an interest from homeowners in using patterned tiles or tiles that come in shapes other than the traditional square or rectangle. Expect to see that attraction to geometric tiles and patterns continue to grow.
Really Floor Them
Homeowners also are looking to add a bit of luxury underfoot. Hardwood and high-quality tile are the materials of choice, with customers particularly interested in bigger plank widths, large format tiles, and broader color and finish options. Graphic tile also is gaining popularity in baths and kitchens.
Trannel notes that his customers are now increasingly looking for plank-style floors or large patterned tiles—and in his colder climate, homeowners are especially interested in in-floor heating systems.
Finish it Off
It used to be that hardware and fixture finishes were kept consistent to avoid any appearance of clashing. Now, however, homeowners are willing to mix it up—and are open to more finishes than ever before.
According to Schwager, clients are mixing metals more than they have in the past, and adding in warmer finish tones. This year’s KBIS showed more fixtures in warm finishes like satin brass and rose gold. And for appliances, trendy black stainless steel is garnering attention.
Window and door manufacturers also are offering more dark hardware options, and black or brown frames are beginning to gain ground over white. Says Lederer, “We’re seeing more dark trims, black trim, black casing, black doors. That’s a nice design touch.”
Showers of Praise
Does a master bathroom really need a tub? That’s one question your clients might be asking more. “I have lots of discussions on whether it’s OK to not have a tub in the master,” says Trannel. “And we do that quite often.”
Since many people don’t use their tubs frequently, they're opting to remove them altogether and create a large, more luxurious shower. “By eliminating that bathtub, it allows the shower to be bigger,” says McElroy. “And then the shower has the opportunity to have some more bells and whistles, like more storage niches or some really beautiful tile.”
If clients do want a tub in the master, large, freestanding soaker tubs are what’s in demand; standard built-in tub decks won’t impress most of today’s customers.