Consumers love floor plans that are open and welcoming.
Consumers love floor plans that are open and welcoming.

From innovative site planning and downsized floor plans to a commitment to bringing superior design to middle-class America, this year’s three inductees into BUILDER’s Wm. S. Marvin Hall of Fame for Design Excellence—architect Ross Chapin, builder Bert Selva, and architect Adele Chang—have dedicated their careers to creating stunning housing. Many of their award-winning design strategies can be used by builders of all sizes. Here are a few of their design tips, current trends, and predictions.

—Do away with rooms that get used only a few times a year, such as the formal dining room or living room. “A smaller house can feel more comfortable when more of it is actually livable,” says Chapin.

—Understand your target market and design for those demographics, whether it’s young urbanites or retirees.

—Bright, colorful finishes are in for cabinetry and fixtures. “For every element that goes into the house, it feels like it’s getting a bit more bold, more like a resort or spa,” Selva predicts.

—Chang’s rule of thumb: Keep design simple but inject memorable spaces wherever possible.

—Include a work room next to the kitchen for projects, laundry, a home office, mail, and storage. “Take a look at how your clients live and design around that,” advises Chapin.

—Think about little touches that can make a home feel special. Add a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf in a hallway or a spot for a window seat on the stair landing.

—Window placement is key for a smaller floor plan. Place units on opposite sides of a room to make it feel more spacious.

—Don’t overlook outdoor spaces and shared areas; they should be thought of as rooms of their own.

—Home buyers want a space that grows and changes to meet their needs, whether it’s making room for an aging parent or hosting dinner parties once the children grow up. Selva says open floor plans are much more adaptable. “The old architecture of very compartmentalized rooms doesn’t provide a lot of flexibility.”

—Energy-efficient features can be a differentiator, but buyers still hesitate to pay top dollar for them.

—For multiple generations living under one roof, consider dual master suites or secondary bedrooms with private baths and sitting areas.

—Help clients communicate their vision for their new dwelling, says Chang.

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