Numerous socio-economic trends are impacting the design and renovation of homes in today’s market. With the rise in multi-generational households, multiple master suites are becoming more common. Underutilized spaces, such as formal dens and large home offices, are reworked to add usable square footage in existing homes. “Pocket offices” are tucked into the family room or included in large walk-in pantries, often dubbed the “Costco closet.” And laundry facilities are now being included in the master bedroom walk-in closet.

Often regional issues drive homeowners’ design goals, and in the Midwest, weather safe rooms are extremely popular.

“Almost every house I build these days has a safe room,” says Tony Jordan, owner of Jordan & Sons Construction.

And they don’t have to be empty space. Architect Jack Arnold designed a private massage area in one client’s safe room, and while the warming drawer is used for towels and the microwave is to warm oil, in an emergency, it’s a mini-kitchen. Jordan recalls his most unique installation was creating a powder room within the safe room.

“I guess if you are going to be stuck in the space for awhile, it’s nice to have plumbing,” muses Jordan.

Both Arnold and Jordan have seen an increase in the use of fountains, both inside and out, plus extensive outdoor lighting along with the popularity of outdoor living areas. Tax incentives have increased the use of geo-thermal energy systems. Net-zero homes are designed to produce as much energy as they use and “net-zero water” is another trending term.

“For $6,500 we installed a private water well for one client, and they were able to transition off city water, saving them more than the cost of the well,” explains Brian Jordan of Jordan & Sons Construction. 

Technology drives some trends, such as the popularity of whole house automation systems made affordable after advances in wireless systems allow homeowners to remotely turn on their hot tub or oven, lock or unlock their doors and myriad other options. Advances in appliances have also created new goals when designing kitchens, from warming drawers to built-in coffee systems. “And dishwasher drawers have become very popular,” says Jordan. Versatile long and deep stainless steel galley sinks allow multiple family members to pitch in at dinnertime.

Look for large-scale elements from ceiling height mirrors, oversized art and large light fixtures in otherwise low-key rooms. And wallpaper is now showing up in living rooms and bedrooms. Patterns from the 1940s and 1950s are resurging with a muted color palette. But glitzier options are available with a nod to Art Deco.

One continuing influence is the merging of urban and rural style with “American casual,” featuring Old West and Americana color palettes with soft, comfy fabrics from faded denim to washed linen with details of hammered copper, rivets and wood trim. Design elements that serve the current financial and functional needs of the public include products targeted at busy, active, and not always meticulous families. Look for elegant yet eclectic pieces of furniture like sofas you sink into and coffee tables to put your feet on.

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