Kitchens: The Hub of the Home
Today's kitchens are where people congregate. Spacious kitchen islands, banquettes, better technology, and integrated offices give families space to hang out, work, and dine in one central space.
As the kitchen has evolved into a type of living room, islands have become a popular feature because of their versatility. They can serve as the primary work space, a secondary work space, extra storage, or a spot for multiple cooks to spread out.
When not used for meals, a well-lit and comfortable breakfast area can easily double as a place for homework or leisurly reading. Banquettes are an excellent way to stretch kitchen space because the seating pushes right up to the wall. They also maximize kitchen storage by providing extra space beneath the seating areas.
Spa-Like Bathroom Features
Bathrooms are no longer strictly functional spaces; today, they are luxurious and relaxing retreats. New bathroom designs separate the tub and shower spaces. Popular bathroom improvements include adding multiple showerheads, creating a dedicated grooming area, and installing heated flooring.
Universal Design Elements
Comfortable design and accessibility for people of all ages and abilities is on the rise in home design. Single-story dwellings, wide hallways and doorways, flexible floor plans, pull-out storage, and simple add-ons -- such as grab bars, D-shape hardware, or task lighting -- make it easy for homeowners to age in their abode without sacrificing style or independence.
This single-lever faucet can be operated with either an open hand or a fist, making it manageable for people of all ages and abilities. A wall-mount sink conserves space and provides access for wheelchairs.
Homeowners can choose from a variety of hues or grain patterns, and wood lasts for more than a century. Reclaimed hardwood flooring is recycled from sources such as old homes and barns and has a worn, rustic look. Eco-friendly alternatives, such as bamboo and cork, are also gaining in popularity.
Better Outdoor Living
Indoor porches, patios, and decks inspired by interior design principles are replacing the traditional backyard. Homeowners want outdoor kitchens, living rooms, and gardens to relax, entertain, and dine in style. The best arrangement places the outdoor kitchen and dining area close to the indoor kitchen. Not only is this convenient for outdoor gatherings, but it also helps homeowners feel connected to the outdoors when inside.
Dedicated Drop Zone
By-the-door storage makes it easy to catch clutter the moment it enters your home. Even slim hallways can accommodate a bevy of small solutions just inside the door to gather everyday essentials.
Health and the environment matters to homeowners, and they're using more low- and no-VOC paint, eco-friendly materials, and energy-efficient appliances.
Scaled-back square footage calls for savvier storage options. Previously overlooked spaces are being tapped into for extra stowaway space, including stairways, window seats, and walls.
As more and more people work remotely, home offices -- whether located in a dedicated room or a pass-through space -- are a desired feature in new homes. Many new kitchens include small work spaces with built-in cabinets to corral printers, file boxes, and tech accessories within one central location.
Focus on Technology
A home that is easy to retrofit for technology is a priority among consumers, and especially millenials. Energy-efficient washers and dryers, home security systems, and thermostats are top-ranking digital essentials for new home buyers, according to a spring 2013 Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate survey.
Homeowners concerned about their heating and cooling bills are paying more attention to their windows. They want windows that perform consistently under always-changing conditions, are easy to maintain, block harmful UV rays, and enhance home design. Builders and designers recommend Energy Star-rated windows that feature multiple panes, low-E glass, inert gas between panes, and frames with warm-edge spacers.
Bigger Isn't Better
Today's consumers consider the importance of lifestyle and community over their perfect home, says a 2013 survey from Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate. Most new home buyers are willing to sacrifice square footage to live in a better neighborhood with easy access to amenities such as schools and entertainment.
An eye-catching exterior is one of the hottest home improvement trends, and it's a feasible update for both new and old homes. A front yard garden, fresh exterior color, updated hardware, or a new garage door can work wonders for your home's facade.