Designers say granite is no longer king of the kitchen. Sustainability is a hot item. And the prevailing trend is moving toward tiny houses, instead of gigantic mansions.
Those are some of the big trends and faddish ideas coming out the International Builders Show presented by the National Association of Home Builders in Las Vegas this month.
The Top 10 trends I saw Vegas:
1. Quartz-based kitchen countertops have overtaken granite, according to a trends survey of home designers queried by the National Kitchen and Bath Association. Quartz requires less maintenance and it comes in a wide variety of colors. Needless to say, laminate is uncool.
2. Millennials, contrary to popular opinion, want to buy a home. They just can’t afford big ones, says NAHB researcher Rose Quint. The answer? Smaller, more affordable homes. Expect builders to design more and more smaller houses with smaller price tags.
3. Huge bath tubs that sit in the center of a bathroom. “These are stand-alone, beautiful art pieces,” says Lita Dirks, a designer from Denver. It makes a bathroom feel like a spa and it gives the homeowner what they are dying for — a place to relax.
4. White. White. White. At the builder’s show Best in American Living Awards, white kitchens were the big trend. This means white cabinets, topped with white counter tops, surrounded by white back splashes and white trim.
5. Two islands in the kitchens. One island is for food preparation. The other is for eating with chairs. The kitchen is becoming part of the living area over time. Plus, if one island is good — two must be better.
6. Water conservation is becoming more popular. “One of the most interesting trends I have seen is a commitment to water conservation through advances in plumbing fixture technology and rainwater capture systems,” says John Leggett of On Point Custom Homes of Houston. Plumbing fixture companies have developed low-flow faucets and dual-flush toilets.
7. Water-hugging architecture. The infinity pool is one thing. But the new trend is for swimming pools that come close to the house to create something like a refreshing watery patio, says Florida designer Marc Thee of Marc-Michaels Interior Design.
8. Outdoor living is popular. This means outdoor kitchens on fancy covered patios. Family rooms blend into the outdoor space, which can be equipped with fire pits, televisions, ceiling fans and decent furniture. The New American Home, the primary show home at the builders’ convention, had several outdoor areas. To do the indoor/outdoor thing right, automated sliding pocket glass doors are necessary, preferably with remote control. Maybe other parts of the country don’t have our mega swarms of mosquitos.
9. Casitas and extended families. The New American Home had a two-story casita and a separate entrance. This allows for multigenerational living, or in places where it is allowed, the owner of the home could live in the casita and rent the main house to others.
10. More subdued entries and foyers. The breathtaking entry with a super-high ceiling has fallen out of favor. Homeowners want to feel like they are coming home, not arriving at a cold castle. No massive entry foyer required, thank you.
Ralph Bivins, editor of RealtyNewsReport, is a former president of the National Association of Real Estate Editors.