Design Trends – Design Practicality
I recently attended the International Builders Show in Las Vegas.
This was my twentieth consecutive year and I walked away with a new sense of reinvigoration and design practicality. If you are planning to build or remodel a kitchen, you will be right on trend if you choose white cabinets – no wait, make that dark brown! White cabinetry will always be in style, but there has been a rise in dark brown kitchens winning award after award.
Some of the trends that are selling houses today are: the inclusion of large walk-in pantries and the reduction in the actual number of cabinets being used in the Kitchen, more sensible bathrooms and comfy doggy digs.
Practical floor plans were the subject of a seminar I took. Where the 1990s and early 2000s were all about excess in home building (bigger is better syndrome), a new sobriety has settled in and focused on maximizing the utility of every square inch of the floor plan. Consumers have spoken and the Dining Room and Living Room have been ditched in lieu of an open area that encompasses the Kitchen, Family Room and a single Dining Area.
One of the things that many homebuilders have noticed is that they have neglected to factor in the family pet in their designs. With 39% of American households having pets, and consumers spending $51 billion on pets in 2011, creating designated pet areas somewhere in the house is a an element that consumers are demanding. The place that we incorporate pets is the “Family Foyer,” This is the area that has morphed from the Laundry Room and transition space from the Garage into the family hub where the pets hang out and eat, the drop zone for backpacks, cell phones and daily belongings.
The next design idea that is becoming more dominant is ‘Open Space’. Forget about kitchens with small tables for two or four, we are now creating kitchens that have Breakfast Nooks that seat 10 or 12 and these are becoming the main dining area for small or large gatherings. Elaborate pantries are being incorporated so that we can cut back on expensive kitchen cabinetry. Clients don’t care as much about the cabinets themselves, but about having more space in the Kitchen.
Other trends being incorporated are the use of white Carrara marble in lieu of granite for countertops in Kitchens and Bathrooms. “White is still everything!” said Karen Kassik a designer I know form Anchorage, Alaska and the Best in American Living Awards Judge. Master Baths, which during the McMansion era, were expensive glitter palaces with chandeliers and crystal sconces are being designed smaller and more practical. Of note, was the lack of bookcases being included in new home designs. I am assuming that with the rise of e-books and e-book readers, there are actually less real books in a house, and hence the obituary of the bookcase.
So in a nutshell, what is selling are fewer kitchen cabinets, smaller, more sensible bathrooms and comfy doggy digs.