What do matte finishes, flexible spaces, purging and splurging, and mini-split HVAC systems have in common? They’re all important elements of emerging design trends for new and remodeled homes, according to speakers at a recent IBS session, “60 Design Ideas in 60 Minutes.”
Moderated by Jamie Goldman, marketing director of design firm Kephart, the fast-paced presentation offered tips, predictions, and trends from home designers, architects, builders, and developers. Each expert gave a five-minute run-through of what buyers want and how best to provide it.
Catering to America’s aging population was on the mind of many presenters. For instance, Mike Hetherman, president of Ontario, Canada-based Willis Supply, noted that many older homeowners have trouble with highly reflective surfaces such as high-gloss countertops because they cause glare and eye strain. Because of this, matte finishes—which don’t present reflectivity issues—are becoming increasingly popular with aging buyers. Hetherman recommended non-reflective surfaces such as honed granite and tile for countertops or backsplashes.
Acoustics are equally important, especially with the popularity of open floor plans and high ceilings that can exacerbate sound issues, and it’s not only seniors who crave a quiet home. “We have these lovely open spaces but the acoustics are a nightmare,” Hetherman said. Manufacturers have addressed noise issues in the kitchen with quieter appliances and nearly silent vent hoods, but more can be done while a home is under construction, he said. Builders should look for construction products that come with sound-deadening properties such as sheathing, ceiling tiles, and even drywall.
Despite the fact that single-family square footages have risen slightly in the past year, panelists said the days of the McMansion are definitely over. In fact, many homeowners, especially Baby Boomers, are purging their unneeded possessions in order to downsize to a smaller home. At the same time, they don’t mind splurging on meaningful, high-quality finishes and upgrades, says Eric Brown of Santa Ana, Calif.- based William Hezmalhalch Architects. These include premium cabinet drawers, cased windows, exquisite countertops, and snazzy light fixtures.
“These will make all the difference in a small home,” he says. “These are things people feel and touch and look at every day.”
Several presenters encouraged attendees to use every inch of space in smaller homes by installing efficient mini-split HVAC systems that don’t require ductwork. “You can start making use of spaces that used to be dedicated to mechanicals,” especially in the ceiling, says Meritage Homes’ C.R. Herro.