Design Trends of 2013

Robin's Way Master Bath by Bates Masi Architects and Rawlins Calderone Design is evidence of the popularity of generously sized soaking tubs. More than ever, clients expect the bath to have a spalike vibe and provide an escape from life's pressures.

The Elizabeth Street Master Bath, another 2013 Watermark Awards winner, features a neat twist on the oversized shower/wet room idea: Here, the bathtub is actually inside the shower.

Architect Rich Bubnowski is adamant that front-loaded garages don't have to dominate the elevation. Here, he provides a Craftsman style approach that prevents the place for the car from looking like an ungainly mass.

In response to an increasingly discerning clientele, developers and builders are spending more money on design. There's often not much budget, which has given rise to smart design that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. The appliances, fittings, light fixtures and cabinets for this kitchen are from Ikea. The Red Cottage by Rehkamp Larson Architects and Code Plus Construction won a 2013 Watermark Award. It's an energy-efficient second home in Northern Minnesota.

Architect Steve James of DTJ Design in Boulder, Colo., has spent decades in the production world. Lately he's spending much more time maximizing small lots with homes that have outdoor rooms integrated into the plan of the home, making for a more seamless relationship between interior and exterior than ever before.

The Parkside Residences in Austin, Texas, was selected as the 2013 Builder's Choice Custom Home Design Awards Project of the Year. The homes, by Alterstudio Architects and Risher Martin Fine Homes, were chosen by the jury for their exceptional indoor-outdoor connections. Special attention was paid to defining outdoor rooms and letting them take advantage of the cityscape.

A Custom Home Design Awards winner, the Manhattan Micro Loft by Specht Harpman Architects and Caudro Interiors measures just over 300 square feet. Atop an Upper West Side townhouse, it's a masterful response to affordable space being at a premium—not just in New York, but in many parts of the country.

Tres Casitas, on the western edge of Boulder, Colo., won a Builder's Choice Grand Award. The project, by Arch11 and Hammerwell Construction, consists of three townhomes on less than 9,000 square feet of lot. Three separate households exist here—peacefully. As walkability and how to house an aging population become even more pressing issues, projects like this could be the shape of things to come.

"Sitting is the new smoking," goes the saying. In other words, the need for walkability is a public health issue, and it's a pressing one. There's an increased demand for neighborhoods with sidewalks in better proportion to the street, with front porches that are inviting places to be, and with houses built at greater density.

It's not news to anyone that the kitchen remains a hub. In response, though, kitchen islands have to work harder than ever before: dining table, homework station, prep space, storage unit, and a place to hang out. It's the advent of the super-island.

While this Carmel, Calif., kitchen by Carver Schicketanz Architects and McNamee Construction isn't exactly a micro-loft, it's as snug as a ship. Stainless counters provide workspace in what's essentially a galley layout, with room for on-demand storage underneath. Behind the pocket door is a pantry. A pass-through to the dining room allows dinner to be served, and mirrors give the impression of expanded space. The kitchen won a 2012 Watermark Award.

Piper House Kitchen is part of a production community in Darien, Conn., by Sun Homes and Lynn Morgan Design. With appealing finishes that are both traditional and fresh, the kitchen won a Watermark Award in 2013 for showing what's possible in a production kitchen.

Inspired by the seaside cottages of its locale, 7 Shutter Latch in Plymouth, Mass., is by Yarosh Associates Architects and MacKenzie Brothers Builders. Everyone loves a cottage, and this one offers appealing details like a well-designed ceiling. Paying attention to that plane helps define any given room and it adds a sense of place—and home—that helps lure buyers in. It won a Builder's Choice Award in 2012.

Shaker Lodge in Houston is by L Barry Davidson Architects and Pyramid Constructors. It's new construction, but looks like it could have been built 90 years ago. More than ever, home buyers seek traditional architecture that looks authentic. These buyers know the difference between Queen Anne and Tudor—even if they can't quite articulate it—and they expect you to know your stuff, too.

Mountain Cottage in Golden, Colo., is by TKP Architects and Old Greenwich Builders. Though it's new construction, the cottage takes its cues from the century-old bungalows that came before it. Details like an eyebrow entry, grid dormers, hefty corbels, a hip roof, slate shingles, and stone walls hold timeless appeal. It's a good bet they always will.

If you don't know the census numbers by now, pay attention: In the next 40 years, the over-65 population will grow to 88 million, and the over-85 population will grow to 19 million. That's a strong case for universal design that's stylish, sexy, and appealing to all ages. Crest Ridge Master Bath in Austin, Texas, by Tier 1 Design Build won a Watermark Award for being as clever and good-looking as it is ADA compliant. That's what we call universal.

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