21 Hot Building and Design Trends

March 1, 2006

Housing styles remain fairly consistent, with certain styles more popular in certain regions. What changes are proportions of houses and their components — the materials used, the layout of rooms, and the rooms themselves. Many condo owners, for example, now seek amenities like well-equipped gyms and green space for people and pets. Other favorites:

1. Copycat materials. New materials mimic old-time favorites but in lighter-weight, more energy-efficient versions. Dryvit Systems Inc. manufactures materials that replicate brick, granite, and limestone for outdoors and indoors.

2. U-shaped designs. When land is at a premium, a U-shaped house allows for a private outdoor space at the center.

3. Hidden garages. Fewer home owners want to see a garage out front, even if they own a fleet.

4. More color. Splashes of bolder, deeper colors are in for shutters, doors, window frames, and even roof tiles. Historic colors are also popular. Color gives a more lived-in look, says Peggy Van Allen, color marketing manager for Dutch Boy Paints.

5. Third-floor living space. Since building up is less costly than adding on, houses are being designed to expand into attic space if zoning permits.

6. Porches. Back in vogue and deeper, porches function more as a living space than a passageway. Some home owners want a private “sunset” screened porch off a master bedroom.

7. Windowless media rooms. In condo buildings where space is at a premium and windows are expensive, builders put media rooms, used mostly at night, in wide corridors.

8. Green materials. Interest in energy-efficient, sustainable materials is on the rise. Backup generators are popular for those in hurricane zones.

9. Snoring rooms. A bedroom that can double as a sleeping space for a family member who snores keeps that person from being banished to a sofa and a spouse from having a sleepless night, says Chicago designer Susan Fredman.

10. Professional-style workout spaces. No longer will a single piece of equipment do. Home owners want larger rooms with all the bells and whistles for working out alone or with a trainer.

11. Dual master suites. Two master bedrooms with bathrooms allow families to accommodate older relatives or returning college graduates.

12. Dual libraries. With fewer living rooms built, more couples seek his and her libraries, or one for adults and one for kids.

13. Cheese cellars. Have a wine cellar? Time to add a cellar to age that bleu.

14. Elevators. For home owners who don’t want to move to a one-level house or can’t add a first-floor bedroom, an elevator allows for aging in place.

15. Multiples, multiples. Two refrigerators have long been common; many are now opting for two dishwashers and even two laundry rooms, or two sets of washers and dryers.

16. Media rooms. Even in the mid-price range, some new homes feature an entertainment center outfitted with a projection screen, leather stadium-style seating, a surround-sound system, recessed dimmable lighting, and a black ceiling, says builder Dennis Stilley of DGR Construction Inc. in Atlanta.

17. Prewired whole-home systems. A centralized panel that controls a home’s systems, including the TV sound, security, thermostat, and lighting is becoming more mainstream as prices come down. Best of all: When you’re away, you can carry a wireless tablet to check on systems or control them from your cell phone or e-mail, says Mike Whaling, business development manager for InfiniSys Inc. in Daytona Beach, Fla.

18. Textures. Whether in materials or paints, smooth is out and texture’s in. Dryvit Systems produces a paint that comes in 80 colors, can duplicate textured surfaces, and is easy to clean. New York designer Liora Manné uses different yarns in rugs and blends colors. Rebecca Cole, another New York designer, recommends mixing textures such as slate, wood, and stone in the same room for a layered look, akin to layering apparel.

19. Pet showers. No longer located outdoors or in a laundry room, a shower for Rover may occupy a separate niche in an owner’s shower.

20. All fixed up. More home owners want to nix remodeling and buy a “finished” house, whether old and remodeled or spanking new.

21. Ay car-amba! Three-car garages have become common, and one leading company, GarageTek Inc. in Syosset, N.Y., says its average makeover now equals $6,500. Makeovers often include paneled walls, tiled floors (sometimes with radiant heat), cabinets, shelves, lighting, a potting or hobby station, and sometimes a place for a TV. “A three-car garage measuring 600 square feet is bigger than most rooms,” says Barbara Butensky, director of marketing.

Sources: Peggy Van Allen, Dutch Boy Paints, Cleveland; Jeff Brooks, Real Estate Convergence, San Francisco; Barbara Butensky, GarageTek Inc., Syosset, N.Y.; Erik Carlson, Dubin Residential Communities Inc., Chicago; Barbara Catlow, Dryvit Systems Inc., West Warwick, R.I.; Wendy S. Cohen, Orren Pickell Designers & Builders, Lincolnshire, Ill.; Rebecca Cole, Cole Creates, New York; Marianne Curran, Realty World First, Raleigh, N.C.; Anna Marie Fannelli, Floor & Décor, Tenafly, N.J.; Susan Fredman, Susan Fredman & Associates, Chicago; Lily Kanter, Serena and Lily, Sausalito, Calif.; Liora Manné, Lamontage, N.Y.; James Martin, The Color People, Denver; Ed Mattingly, Mattingly Custom Finishes, Chicago; Gail Missner, Baird & Warner, Chicago; David Robbins, Architecture Collaborative, Elliott City, Md.; Emily Stevenson, New York; Dennis Stilley, DGR Construction Inc., Atlanta; Sarah Susanka, author, Inside the Not So Big House (The Taunton Press, 2005), Raleigh, N.C.; Sam Switzenbaum, Switzenbaum & Associates, Philadelphia; Mike Whaling, InfiniSys Inc., Daytona Beach, Fla.

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