Latest residential designs balance looks and practicality, favor millennial styles for new homes

Today’s homes are being built to uphold architectural originality without sacrificing must-have ecological and safety features. Brand new houses are trending towards modern looks and features — popular with many property searchers.

Think of it this way: Cookies baked high-tech at home are in, but cookie-cutter homes are out.

Those are observations from a few residential contractors and market researchers on home style trends in 2018.

California-based John Burns Real Estate Consulting this winter posted an online story about The Rise of Modern Styles. “New home buyers increasingly prefer modern home styles,” according to the article by Steve Burch, senior vice president; and Jenni Lantz, manager of DesignLens.

The consulting firm’s 2018 Consumer Insights survey found 30 percent of new home shoppers prefer a modern outdoor style, and 36 percent prefer a modern interior. “New home shoppers in Southern California and Southern Florida are more than twice as likely to prefer modern exteriors as new home shoppers in the Midwest and Southeast,” John Burns Real Estate Consulting says.

At the same time, around 35 percent of the 72 “innovative” new home communities featured in DesignLens in 2017 offered new home styles with modern exteriors. That increased to 40-45 percent when including the share of modern interiors.

Market experts, such as the John Burns consulting team spread across the country, visit numerous new-home communities each month and find strong sales at many communities with modern floor plans, “particularly in infill locations,” the authors note. “Outdated floor plans continue to under-perform,” they say.


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“Consumer trends are changing rapidly. Builders and developers who don’t pay attention may save money on architectural and interior design fees but lose out on home sales and new-home price premiums,” Burch and Lantz point out.

Also recently, MyFixitUpLife contractor Theresa Clement previewed new products from the International Builders and Kitchen & Bath Industry shows in Orlando. She outlined “big trends in home design” this year in her blog as its appeared on Ply Gem Industries remodeling company’s website, including:

  • Abstraction. She says simple shapes are growing more popular in recent years, leading homeowners to embrace the “minimalist philosophy.” Clement cites de Stijl, or “The Style” in Dutch, architecture found in “expansive glass panels” in Ply Gem’s new multi-slide MaxView Patio Door.
  • Authenticism. Designers embrace natural textures and colors, which in regionally styled homes can offer “a sense of inviting warmth,” she says. Clement noted Ply Gem’s Engineered Slate and Cedar roofing shingles, which look like real slate and cedar shingles “while achieving performance that can withstand large hailstones, extreme temperatures and 190 mph winds.”
  • Restrained Glam. The blogger suggests that “simple plain interior design” can help people appreciate small pockets of luxury. The stand-out pieces could be “a bold colored appliance in an otherwise plain kitchen or a pleasing design on a doorknob,” according to the fix-it-up expert.

Conversely, M-Rad architecture and design studio in Los Angeles listed its Top 10 Architectural Trends that Should Be Left Behind in 2018.

“While some trends hold steady and survive the test of time, some trends should never have developed in the first place,” says Matthew Rosenberg, M-Rad founder.

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Among the less-than-worthwhile trends are furniture designer knockoffs, which can wind up with safety risks and questionable labor practices. “If you can’t afford the real deal, save until you can,” the firm says.

Artificial turf once may have seemed a good idea, but “research shows ‘fake grass’ can be harmful to the environment. Real grass and soil naturally regenerates itself and recycles the air,” M-Rad says.

Another questionable trend: “smart” coffee tables, with refrigerator, charging stations, lights and speakers. “Such all-in-one designs might make sense in a ‘man cave’ or den, but not for use in the everyday home setting,” the studio notes.

M-Rad looks down on basic residential interiors, arguing that “boring designs, flat ceilings, box style rooms will become a thing of the past.” In place will be “complex designed ceilings, secret reading nooks and cozy crannies, unique lighting and interesting angles.”

Dining rooms also may fade away, according to the architectural firm. “Millennials are buying houses now, and do not use a dining room for formal dinners like their mothers and grandmothers once did,” the studio notes. Preferable uses including turning the dining room into “a more efficient multi-purpose space such as an office/dining or additional living space,” it says.


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