Feb
24

What’s Hot in Home Design

February 24, 2014
Home of the year

Chosen as Home of the Year in the BALA competition was an American Craftsman in La Jolla, Calif., by IS Architecture that’s intended to allow the owners to age in place easily. (Larny J. Mack, Larny Mack Photography / February 23, 2014)

Sanford Steinberg calls them “marriage preservation,” and he’s seeing them a lot lately.

He was talking about dual master bathrooms, and they made an impression on him for their sheer proliferation among hundreds of room photos during his involvement with the annual Best in American Living Awards, recently announced at the meeting of the National Association of Home Builders in Las Vegas.

The annual awards program, which attracts a broad array of new-home and remodeling designs from around the country — in a similarly broad array of price ranges — is billed as a harbinger of features that consumers are likely to encounter in the next couple of years as they house-shop.

Steinberg, a Houston architect and chairman of the association’s Design Committee, which oversees the awards, said in a presentation at the conference that the dual facilities are a break from the ballroom-size bath spaces that have dominated the contest in recent years.

Other features that popped up repeatedly among the contest entrants:

White-on-white kitchens. “We saw it everywhere, on cabinets, flooring and backsplashes,” said Heather McCune, marketing director for the Bassenian Lagoni architecture firm in Newport Beach, Calif., and a member of the association’s Design Committee. McCune said the clean-lined cabinet styles and shiny finishes that are characteristic of European kitchen designers were ubiquitous among the contest entrants. A kitchen that was a sea of white won the awards’ Room of the Year designation; it was designed by the Phil Kean Design Group in Winter Park, Fla.

Or, on the other hand, bold color. Bright hues showed up on lots of home exteriors, McCune and Steinberg said.

“In the past, you’d see color accents,” McCune said. Now, some new property developments are adding color to houses in bold swaths through paint, a mix of cladding materials, doors, shutters, etc., to make them stand out from their competition, she said.

Steinberg said the trend had crossed over from apartment developments, where it had established itself years ago.

Sheltered courtyards. They’re migrating north from warmer climates, McCune said.

“They provide private and safe areas, and architects often are using them on the sides of lots,” as opposed to the traditional open atrium within the center of the house.

Bright ideas in light fixtures. Again and again, contest judges noticed specialty pendant lighting and fixtures showcased in homes as pieces of art, according to the judges’ contest report.

Frequently, the fancy fixtures are used in tandem with unusual ceilings to draw the eye upward, they said.

Historic architectural details, updated. “We noticed historic style with a modern flair,” Steinberg said. Observed: Craftsman, midcentury modern or other historic styles with modern twists thrown in via color, finish or lighting choices.

“Homeowners want to be a little more contemporary, but they’re not ready to go all the way,” he said. “For example, you might see a Georgian-style house with a wide-open interior (floor plan),” he said.”You walk in the front door and see all the way to the back.”

Chosen as Home of the Year was an American Craftsman-style residence by IS Architecture in La Jolla, Calif., which emphasized period-correct details but also was designed so the owners could age in place, with a gradual transition to ground-floor living.

Inside goes out. The line between indoors and outdoors continues to blur, even in cold climates, with whole walls or banks of windows at countertop level that slide away, accordion-style, to provide seamless access to patios and decks.

Out-of-the-box amenities. In addition to home design, the awards had a category for community planning, and Steinberg and McCune agreed developers are upping the ante with resort-style amenities.

There’s a desire to bring a bit of a “four-star hotel” feel to subdivisions, Steinberg said.

Developers are taking cues, again, from apartment developments by offering such features as communal kitchens for cooking classes, dogs-only swim pools, car-charging stations, concierge services and more, he said.

This post originally appeared on ChicagoTribune.com on Feb. 24, 2014. To view that post, click here.

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