It was standing room only this morning at the “Cutting Edge Design Solutions for 2013” seminar at the 2013 International Builders’ Show, being held this week in Las Vegas, as builders and designers packed in to get a peek at the design trends positioned to entice shoppers into new homes in the coming months.
Perhaps it’s a sign of the times that while cost-saving was certainly a prominent theme, the main focus was introducing show-stopping design features that will lure buyers away from existing homes—even if they bring the price tag up.
“The No. 1 trend right now is undoubtedly bring sexy back,” said Marc Thee of Winter Park, Fla.–based Marc-Michaels Interior Design. “Put sexy back into every room, every space. One thing you can do to guarantee home sales is to give the buyer reasons to be in the market.”
Fortunately, he and Doug Van Lerberghe, of Denver-based planning and architecture firm KEPHART, used the session to offer specific tips on how to “bring sexy back” to every space in the home, many of which can be utilized in a variety of markets and price points.
· While formal living and dining rooms have been pronounced dead by much of the industry, Van Lerberghe emphasized that “livability is all about lifestyle choices,” and preferences vary in different areas of the country. He encouraged builders to offer floor plans that could be easily customized, so buyers can choose how their living space works without having to pay custom home prices.
· Thee encouraged builders to bring designers into the process in the first phase of floor plan design, so they can start carving out points of interest that can become major memory points for buyers.
· For builders looking for a safe bet, according to Van Lerberghe, mid-century modern designs sell faster than any other plan design.
· Oversized doors, in the area of 3 ½ feet by 8 feet, don’t cost much more and are a detail people notice, Van Lerberghe said.
· Van Lerberghe also noted a trend toward store-front type windows in entryways, which allow natural light to flood in and lend a contemporary aesthetic.
· When looking for inspiration for artistic features, Thee shared his not-so-secret source for ideas, saying that he brings his iPad into every design meeting, and “if someone says we need something cool in a lower bar area, I Google Image ‘cool lower bar area.’” Thanks to image-heavy sites such as Pinterest and Houzz, ideas for show-stopping details abound.
· For feature walls and fireplaces, Thee touted monolithic details and “clean sweeps of material,” such as inexpensive tile that, when used at a large scale, can make a big impression.
· “This makes me sad, but in the past three years, people have started to not own books anymore,” Thee said. “So we need to be rethinking areas in sitting rooms and libraries where we used to have bookshelves. … The new bookcase is a collectables display.”
· “White kitchens will never be passé,” Thee said, adding that visual interest can be bumped up by contrasting light cabinets with warm, dark tones in floors.
· “Avoid crows-on-a-line seating” in kitchen islands, Van Lerberghe encouraged, since seats all facing the same direction prevents interaction. Instead, he suggested moving some chairs around the corner of the island.
· Bring huge windows into the kitchen, Thee suggests. “If you’re worried about your upper cabinets, get over it. A kitchen is supposed to make you feel good in the morning. It’s supposed to help you wake up.” He also suggested making kitchen windows more of a focal point by using dark casing in light kitchens and light casing in dark kitchens.
· Tubs are making their way back into master bedrooms, Thee says. And while tubs can seem an extraneous, seldom-used feature, when brought into the bedroom and emphasized as a spa-style retreat, they can become an emotional draw for buyers.
· Thee also recommended inserting pendant lighting where nightstands with lamps might typically sit. “It’s a super sexy detail, and remember we’re bringing sexy back.”
· Euro showers are coming into fashion, both presenters agreed, which eliminate barriers between tubs and standing showers by converting floor space next to the tub to an open showering area.
· “Tower cabinets and vessel tubs: If you’re not doing them, you need to be doing them,” Thee said.
· And as always, natural lighting should reign supreme, so Thee suggested using floating mirrors so as not to sacrifice windows for the sake of vanities.
Claire Easley is a senior editor at Builder.