Americans Need Home Design That Welcomes Everyone

The needs of the modern home—and the abilities of its residents—are increasingly varied, a fact that the contemporary housing market has yet to reflect

The Universal Design Living Laboratory  is a national demonstration house and garden in Columbus Ohio that is the...
The Universal Design Living Laboratory (UDLL) is a national demonstration house and garden in Columbus, Ohio that is the top-rated universal design home in North America.Photo by Scott Cunningham/Courtesy of the Universal Design Living Laboratory

Twenty years ago, Rosemarie Rossetti ran a small publishing business with her husband, Mark Leder, in the basement of their two-story home in Columbus, Ohio, and spent weekends hiking and playing sports. But her life changed on an afternoon bicycle ride in 1998, when a three-and-a-half-ton tree collapsed and crashed down on her, a devastating accident that injured her spinal cord and left her paralyzed from the waist down.

As she healed and returned home, rehabilitation was a transformational experience that required new ways of eating and cooking, grooming, sitting up, and moving around. “Fifty percent of my home became inaccessible,” she recalls. “I couldn’t get through doorways that were too narrow for a wheelchair. I couldn’t get around furniture. I couldn’t get a glass of water because I couldn’t reach the glasses—I couldn’t even reach the sink.”

pThree quartz countertop heights on the center island provide seated or standing access while preparing meals or dining.p
Three quartz countertop heights on the center island provide seated or standing access while preparing meals or dining.

Photo by Scott Cunningham/Courtesy of the Universal Design Living Laboratory

Tedious, everyday tasks became insurmountable obstacles, heightening Rossetti’s sensitivity to the design of previously overlooked details that now stood in her way. Smaller spaces such as the laundry room were too tight to for her maneuver her wheelchair; and the thick, heavy carpeting that once felt plush underfoot became a burden to roll over. Her basement office, with its various oversize printing equipment and files, became physically inaccessible, leading to the halt and eventual dissolution of her company. It was painfully clear that Rossetti’s home would no longer suit her lifestyle.

pA sidehinged oven provides easier access while the 9quot H x 6quot D toe kick allows space for a wheelchair users...
A side-hinged oven provides easier access, while the 9″ H x 6″ D toe kick allows space for a wheelchair user’s footrest.

Photo by Scott Cunningham/Courtesy of the Universal Design Living Laboratory

“That was the turning point; I was lucky to be alive, and refocused everything about my life and business,” she says. When a search of local properties failed to turn up one-story ranch-style homes that could ease daily demands, or at least be easily renovated to accommodate them, she and her husband put grist to mill, channeling their frustrations into research. They set out to create their own custom home from scratch—a place they could comfortably inhabit for years to come. And, with an entrepreneurial spirit, they resolved to make it a national demonstration home that could also serve a wider public mission.

pA standard dishwasher is installed 16 inches above the floor to ease loading and unloading.p
A standard dishwasher is installed 16 inches above the floor to ease loading and unloading.

Photo by Scott Cunningham/Courtesy of the Universal Design Living Laboratory

Enlisting local architect Patrick Manley to create their ideal plan, the couple delved into the resources at Mobile, Columbus’s independent-living center. “Just reading up on accessible homes, on how big a bathroom needed to be, how to install grab bars, I was like a sponge, ready to learn,” Rossetti recalls. Discovering resources and literature about Universal Design—an approach that calls for products and environments to be equitable and accessible to all, regardless of age, size, or ability—was both a godsend and a relief. “It gave us hope to say, ‘Oh, my gosh, people have thought this through.‘”

pWith a countertop height of 33 inches  the vanity offers plenty of undercounter knee space. Sidemounted lighting...
With a countertop height of 33 inches, the vanity offers plenty of under-counter knee space. Side-mounted lighting provides even illumination, and D-shaped cabinet hardware is easy to pull.

Photo by Scott Cunningham/Courtesy of the Universal Design Living Laboratory

Working with more than 200 product sponsors, vendors, consultants, and thousands of volunteers over the course of several years, the couple completed and opened the doors to the state-of-the-art, LEED Silver-certified Universal Design Living Laboratory (UDLL) in 2014, and have since happily lived in a space that’s both suitable for Leder, who stands six feet, four inches tall, and Rossetti, seated at four feet, two inches.

pThe easytonavigate wardrobe contains a washer and dryer. The 33inchhigh center island makes it easier to foldstore...
The easy-to-navigate wardrobe contains a washer and dryer. The 33-inch-high center island makes it easier to fold/store laundry and pack/unpack luggage.

Photo by Scott Cunningham/Courtesy of the Universal Design Living Laboratory

Visitors, welcome to tour the premises by appointment, come and leave “in absolute awe,” she says, impressed with the range of products, fixtures, and details they hadn’t even known were on the market. Doorways measure 36 inches wide, rather than the standard 28; cabinets and countertops are tiered to accommodate more than one height; and showers are spacious and curbless, with drains that run flush to the surface. Being a living resource for knowledge exchange is the UDLL’s core mission, as is demystifying any misconceptions. “Universal Design is for everyone, not just for those in wheelchairs, first of all,” says Rossetti, “and when people visit the home, they understand that Universal Design need not look institutional.”


Kylie Jenner Talks About Her New Home with Kris

Designing for all—or at least consciously for as many users as possible, rather than a single common denominator—has become a topic of growing awareness in recent years, gaining the focus of several significant exhibitions this past year alone. At the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, “Access + Ability” presented more than 70 design innovations designed for a range of physical, cognitive, and sensory abilities, demonstrating how technological advancements have enriched product designs in unprecedented ways. The Victoria & Albert Museum in London, meanwhile, mounted “Without Walls: Disability and Innovation in Design,” charting how the practice of design has begun to shift more significantly toward principles that create a built environment welcome to all.


pThe new voting system shown here was featured in the Cooper Hewitt's AccessAbility exhibition. Working closely with Los...
The new voting system shown here was featured in the Cooper Hewitt’s “Access+Ability” exhibition. Working closely with Los Angeles County staff, IDEOdesigned a voting system for the 2020 election that addresses the complexities unique to that voter base, including its diverse population and a myriad of election laws and policies. It was imperative for designers to build a system that would be useful and accessible to voters of all ages and backgrounds: those who are vision- and hearing-impaired, in wheelchairs, have learning disabilities, are unfamiliar with technology, or speak languages other than English. Their goals: to create one device for equal access; to define a voting process that feels familiar to voters, balancing both emotional and functional needs; and to build a system that’s adaptable over time.

Photo courtesy of IDEO and the Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum

On view through January 6 at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., “Making Room: Housing for a Changing America,” co-organized by the nonprofit research organization Citizens Housing Planning Council, demonstrates just how much the American household has changed over the past six decades. Housing designs have fallen behind in meeting the contemporary demands of a population for which the suburban, four-person nuclear family has not been a leading demographic in decades, and Universal Design is yet another way to satisfy the needs of today’s increasingly diverse living arrangements.

pPillPack a 2013 design by IDEO and Tyler Wortman that presorts and organizes medications for users was spotlighted in...
PillPack, a 2013 design by IDEO and Tyler Wortman that pre-sorts and organizes medications for users, was spotlighted in the Cooper Hewitt’s “Access+Ability” exhibition.

Photo by Matt Flynn © Smithsonian Institution/Courtesy the Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 survey, single adults living alone now represent the most common living arrangement, comprising 28 percent of American households; next, at 25 percent, are couples with no children. “If you look at those first two groups alone, you realize that over 50 percent of all households are just one or two people,” says Chrysanthe B. Broikos, the curator of the National Building Museum’s exhibition. Next come adults living with roommates, and then nuclear families, each at 20 percent; followed by single-parent families. Add a mix of generations and abilities to any of the above scenarios, and the need for inclusivity only multiplies. “When we discuss the ‘typical American household,’ we tend to think of the nuclear family, because in 1950 they made up 43 percent of the population, and in 1970 the number was still 40 percent. They were the main demographic and they drove the market, and defined the postwar years, it was the reason we experienced the growth of suburbia,” Broikos continues. “In the meantime, we’ve changed and everything has been continuing as if that were still the case. We’re not building nearly enough for those one or two-bedroom households,” a scenario that causes shortages and drives up real estate prices for everyone.

pThe Open House a flexible 1000squarefoot home designed by architect Pierluigi Colombo for the National Building Museum...
The Open House, a flexible, 1,000-square-foot home designed by architect Pierluigi Colombo for the National Building Museum exhibition, features a hyperefficient layout, movable walls, and multifunctional furniture, allowing the space to meet the needs of a variety of today’s growing but underserved households.

Courtesy of the National Building Museum

To demonstrate how the work of developers and architects might better serve this changing face of American life, the exhibition includes 28 case studies of recent residential designs from the past decade, as well as a model home that can be configured into different living arrangements. Designed and built to scale by architect Pierluigi Colombo as a showcase for what a flexible home could look like, the 1,000-square-foot installation includes movable walls, height-adjustable counters, and multifunctional furniture. Seeing is believing, and half the battle is simply spreading awareness and creating a larger demand in the market for homes and products espousing Universal Design, Broikos says. “If we can let people know that this sort of stuff is available and out there, it could potentially change the market.”

pOne flexible feature in The Open House's kitchen is a working island that can be lifted for food preparation and other...
One flexible feature in The Open House’s kitchen is a working island that can be lifted for food preparation and other work, and lowered for dining.

Photograph by Yassine El Mansouri/ El Man Studio LLC/ Courtesy of the National Building Museum

For Rossetti, the personal journey of finding, then building, the right home has come full circle. Along with hosting group tours of her residence and sharing further resources online, she has self-published digital and print versions of an extensive reference guide, The Universal Design Toolkit, and has devoted her career to advocating for a better baseline of design, consulting with developers and organizations including Habitat for Humanity.

“Let’s look at safety, let’s look at convenience; let’s look at access, and how to give and empower people with the most independence we can,” Rossetti says. “It’s not difficult; it’s just about designing it to work in the long-term—for all the members of the family—right from the beginning. Do it right from the beginning.”

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Millennial Pink Is Dead, And Pantone’s Color Of The Year Killed It

Meet Living Coral. It’s the color of resistance, of tech company rebrands, and of 1960s Americana–a familiar and energizing hue that you’re about to see everywhere.

Millennial Pink is dead, and Pantone’s Color of the Year killed it
[Source Photo: Pantone]

The reign of Millennial Pink–that literally and figuratively cool hue whose blue undertones flattered no one–seems to be coming to an end at last. In its place? We have Living Coral. It’s Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2019, following the company’s annual, wide-ranging analysis of color trends across culture. Living Coral is comforting and energizing at the same time, a color meant to serve as a salve in a time of global uncertainty.

[Image: Pantone]

“Just as coral reefs are a source of sustenance and shelter, we see this color giving us assurance and buoyancy in an environment that’s been continuously shifting for 10 years,” says Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute. “With technology, and all the [political] unrest around the world, our global culture has continued to accelerate this shift.”

[Photo: Adobe Stock/courtesy Pantone]

If you buy into all of Pantone’s color psychology, it’s hardly a leap to interpret Living Coral as the color for a society that needs reassurance in the face of rising authoritarianism–the complement to the Blue Wave. As Pressman explains, Living Coral has roots in the 1950s and ’60s, where you could see it in cars, accessories, and fashion. Pressman says there’s “almost a retro feeling” to this color of Americana, which evokes “simpler times” without the patriotic baggage of red, white, and blue.

[Photo: Pantone]

“That’s comforting!” says Pressman. “Because the more things try to push us forward, the more people reach back to what was, because they’re looking for terra firma. It’s scary! So you want things that make you feel safe, happy, that bring you comfort and warmth.”

But it’s more than sociological theory. Living Coral is also a very functional color that bridges the gap between our screens and real life.

[Photo: FedEx Office/courtesy Pantone]

As Pressman points out, Living Coral has a lot of functional attributes that have made it increasingly popular over the past few years. With an orange rather than pink base, its warmth complements most skin tones. In interior design, it’s surprisingly versatile, and can actually be pulled in and out of many color schemes almost like a neutral. On smartphone screens, it’s a super-saturated, vibrant option that can pop on social media–but because it’s found in nature, it bridges the gap between the real and hyperreal. Even when it appears in digital content, it has ties to the natural world.

[Photo: Apple]

Pantone chose the color before Apple unveiled its most recent iPhones, and the company was surprised to find that Apple chose the same color to put on the backside of its latest iPhone XR–reinforcing its power to bridge technology and people.


But if any tech company deserves credit for kicking off the Living Coral trend, Pressman says it’s Airbnb, which introduced coral as part of its 2014 brand redesign: “What people may have called questionable the time [was] prescient.”

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A Case Study in Sustainability: Interface and Salesforce

Salesforce sets a high bar for sustainable materials, turns to Interface as partner with equally high standards for its flooring solutions


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As time marches on, the hurdles ahead only loom larger and the responsibilities prove heavier for the health of our planet. Salesforce, the global leader in CRM, is one of the few modern companies stepping up to the challenge of climate action–delivering a carbon neutral cloud to all customers, has achieved net-zero greenhouse gas emissions globally, and is on track to achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2022.

Salesforce Tower, the heart of the tech giant’s San Francisco global headquarters campus, is already a LEED Platinum Core and Shell building. However, Salesforce is shooting for more, including LEED Platinum Commercial certification for the interiors of the San Francisco tower, which are still being built out.

By partnering with Interface, the flooring solutions designer and manufacturer, and largest global producer of carpet tile, Salesforce is a step further to achieving their mission. Interface provides flooring from carpet to custom LVT throughout all of Salesforce’s major office projects, including Salesforce Tower in San Francisco.

The interiors of Salesforce Tower are a representation of the company’s “Ohana” workplace design standards. Meaning “family” in Hawaiian and developed by the combined teams of Mark Cavagnero Associates and The Wiseman Group, Salesforce’s Ohana design philosophy is built off principles that prioritize residential-finishes that embody warmth, collaboration, and a connection to nature. And just as fierce as the company’s commitment to the delivery of quality products is, Salesforce is as commitment to sustainability.

“It told a story,” explained Salesforce’s Green Building Program Manager, Amanda von Almen, LEED AP, of Interface’s Urban Retreat Collection, which was used in Salesforce Tower. “[The product] met our values of making the office feel like home and incorporating more biophilic, natural design elements. As a carbon neutral product thanks to its Carbon Neutral Floors program, [Urban Retreat] is also made of 100 percent recycled nylon, some of which comes from recycled fishing nets. So it’s actually removing waste from the environment, offering something more tangible for our employees to understand.”

According to von Almen, the Salesforce sustainability and real estate teams have had a close collaboration over the past few years to make sure that both its offices and operations are delivering “healthy and sustainable spaces for employees to do their best work,” by putting actual policies in place to meet that end. Salesforce Tower’s design and product selection served as the impetus for one such policy: the company’s healthy materials program. It represents Salesforce’s official dedication to responsible sourcing practices through the launch of a score-based tool that helps Salesforce ensure it is only utilizing products that represent the most transparent manufacturing practices and safest ingredients possible.

Both Interface and Salesforce are greatly focused not only on carbon neutrality, but on the reduction of embodied carbon within products. Interface announced this year all of its products across the globe as carbon neutral, and also recently developed a carbon negative prototype carpet tile with Proof Positive. Additionally,the company is committed to carbon negativity overall. At the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit, Interface announced it would become a carbon negative company by 2040. Also part of the Summit, Salesforce announced it will pursue Net Zero Carbon Building certification and LEED Platinum v4 Platinum standards for all new major Salesforce workspaces established after 2020.

“That will require us to continue with high quality renewable energy sourced either onsite or locally, measuring embodied carbon, and ensuring that we build to the highest efficiency standards,” said von Almen.

For more information about Interface’s various sustainable product lines, visit

Categories: Sponsored, Sustainability, Workplace Interiors

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DesignWell Conference


ASID is proud to serve as a Premier Association Sponsor for the 2019 DesignWell Conference in San Diego, January 22-23, 2019.

The DesignWell Conference will focus on wellness architecture and will present industry thought leaders, including ASID CEO Randy Fiser, Hon. FASID, to raise awareness on how our surroundings impact our health and performance. What began as the green movement to build with environmental protection in mind has evolved to become the foundation for reshaping architecture.

Attend this cutting-edge program and gain the inspiration to take your work to a new level. Network, exchange ideas, learn best practices, and position yourself to positively shape the future of the design and wellness economy.

ASID Members receive $100 off of the registration price.



9:00 AM
1/22/2019 – 1/23/2019


Hotel Solamar
435 Sixth Ave
San Diego, CA
United States




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Acoustic Design: Between Sound & Silence



Acoustics is more than a design buzzword: it’s an important aspect of interiors. Editor-in-Chief Kadie Yale discussed the basics of acoustic design with Hanson Hsu, principal acoustician and founder of Delta H Design Inc., a research, design, and build firm providing design and consulting services for architecture and acoustics since 1998. 
If you have any questions about acoustics for a follow-up podcast on the topic, please email with “Acoustics Question” in the subject.

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Outcome of Design Awards

Launching in Fall 2018, the ASID Outcome of Design Awards, in partnership with Herman Miller and NeoCon, celebrate the proof in the power of design. By highlighting new tools and processes in design, strategy, technology, and research, the awards seek to recognize projects that successfully illustrate that “Design Impacts Lives.”

The Outcome of Design Awards look to shed light on innovative designers and businesses that focus on the quantifiable effect of projects on people in spaces. Projects that measure the outcome of design on the human experience through sustainable, humancentric, and socially responsible design solutions are the future, and the Outcome of Design Awards will recognize the innovators who are leading the charge.

Outcome of Design Award finalists will be invited to share their projects at the first-ever ASID Outcome of Design Conference in Chicago in March 2019. This event will be held in partnership with Herman Miller, NeoCon, and Metropolis. Finalists will be featured in Metropolis magazine and across the ASID communications network, including webinars, panel discussions, conferences, blogs, and social media posts.

Applications to the Outcome of Design Award have closed. Thank you to those who applied.

The Outcome of Design Awards use metric-driven criterion including design solution and details, occupant experience, and research-based results (i.e. post-occupancy research) to determine the most successful projects.

Design Solutions and Details. Basic information on project goals, size, certifications, important design features, and more to provide insight on how the design team addressed the client’s initial needs. The award submissions should be a joint effort between the design team and client.


Occupant Experience. Eligible projects must have been completed within the past five years, with at least six months of occupancy, and include the design’s measurable impact on occupants –  all is key to the Outcome of Design Awards. How the occupants’ lives, experiences, emotional and physical well-being, productivity, and other specific goals have changed since occupying the transformed space are important in understanding the design’s success.





Research-Based Results. Good design is much more than aesthetics – it is a measurable, concrete benefit to the human experience. By providing research-based results as part of the application, the project’s accomplishments and innovations are solidified and show the tangible positive impact of design.

The Outcome of Design Awards represent a first-of-its-kind initiative. Design extends beyond a space that is beautiful and comfortable; when thoughtfully executed, design has the power to change the lives of its inhabitants. By focusing on the measurable outcomes of design we believe we can improve the impact of design on people’s lives and enhance the practice and valuation of design service.

The Outcome of Design Awards shine the spotlight on the design teams and clients leading the charge for a more powerful level of design. Share your success and leadership through a new lens using humancentric innovation, creative approaches to health and well-being, and environmentally-conscious design decisions.

Eligibility Requirements for Projects

Projects must have been occupied for at least six months prior to the award submission date.

*While ASID will make reasonable efforts to keep information regarding clients confidential upon request, entrants should take measure to ensure sensitive/protected information is not divulged in the application process.


A minimum of five (5) criteria are required for submission—three (3) mandatory criteria and two (2) or more of your choice. Criteria are organized by categories that increase in scale from the perspective of an individual occupant to that of society and the environment. Applicants need to explain the outcome of the criterion, including applicable metrics.

Ready to learn more and submit your project?

The Power of Light in Modern Design

December 3, 2018


Many people are looking for ways to live healthier and happier, and they expect their homes to be part of that quest. As a result, light has been increasingly on the minds of designers and architects. “People want to feel better and live healthier lives,” says Christine Marvin, director of corporate strategy and design at Marvin® Windows and Doors. “Light has a huge impact on how people feel about their home.”

Scientific evidence further affirms the reasoning behind the cultural sentiment. Research indicates that increased exposure to light makes people more productive and improves their sense of well-being, therefore improving overall wellness. It’s no surprise, then, that homeowners and architects alike are exploring ways to bring more natural light and light patterns into homes.

Biophilic Design: A Return to Evolutionary Psychology

To understand why light in the home can be so impactful, it helps to explore the concept of biophilic design. Biophilic design represents a return to evolutionary psychology and what makes us human, and then taking that into account when designing spaces. Humans have always sought certain elements to feel safe, secure, and in the most optimal emotional state, which was ingrained in us from the earliest days of days of living on terrain like meadows and the savanna.

Exposure to Light Makes Us Feel Better

The body’s response to daylight is one area where the power of biophilia becomes evident. Light exposure plays an important role in a healthy sleep/wake cycle, and daylight affects our inherent circadian rhythms, which are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a daily cycle. These rhythms are primarily regulated by light and darkness in one’s environment and are recognized by a third type of receptor in our eyes. The sun as a light source connects to our internal clocks, telling us when to wake and sleep.

The same idea is at work in our homes. The more exposure to the outdoors and light, the better we feel because we’re more in sync with these rhythms, and therefore more in tune with nature.   “All of these things tie into healthy living, the ability to get the sleep that you need, the wellness everyone is talking about trying to get,” says Manny Gonzalez, FAIA, LEED AP, principal and board of directors at KTGY, a Los Angeles-based architecture firm.

‘Sunshine Suits’

Conversely, research has shown that a lack of exposure to light can actually make us sick. As recently as the mid-20th century, most buildings were constructed primarily to use artificial lighting, with natural light as an afterthought. It wasn’t until the 1980s when U.S. software firms discovered one of the most detrimental factors to engagement and productivity was a lack of natural daylight. Even worse, doctors began to diagnose patients who spent too much time in artificially lit, poorly ventilated spaces with Sick Building Syndrome—a condition affecting office workers that is attributed to unhealthy or stressful factors in the working environment. The need for better, more nature-inspired conditions became apparent.

Some countries have already begun addressing their citizens’ right to light. In Japan, skyscrapers and intense urban density led to the concept of “nissho-ken,” which translates to “a right to sunlight.” After a string of “sunshine suits” in the late 1960s and early 1970s, more than 300 Japanese cities adopted “sunshine hour codes,” specifying penalties that developers must pay for casting shadows. “Sunshine is essential to a comfortable life,” the court opined, “and therefore a citizen’s right to enjoy sunshine at his home should be duly protected by law.”

If this weren’t inspiration enough to make design changes, consider that we spend up to 97 percent of our time indoors. This is all the more reason to bring light into the home to experience its myriad benefits since we may not get outside much to experience it.

A Modern Aesthetic That Maximizes Light

Modern homes tend to have more windows and narrower frames, increasing the capacity for light to pass through and offering better views. When Marvin created its new Modern product line, it offered homeowners an opportunity to embrace the principles of modern design, a concept that is closely intertwined with exposure to light.

“Our goal was to create a designed experience through a platform that offers minimal sightlines and large expanses of glass, providing seamless, clutter-free visuals and ease of engaging with windows and doors to the outside world,” says Christine Marvin of the new Modern line. “This enables homeowners to achieve what they seek in their home—connection, restoration, and freeness.”

Gazing outside inspires a direct connection to the healthy, natural state that people experienced when they spent most of their time outdoors. This speaks to biophilic design since it brings the feeling of being in nature into the built environment. “The feeling of being in nature stays with you, even while inside looking at trees, a garden, or patio,” says Gonzalez. “Your mind may not realize it, but your body wants that feeling of getting back to nature.”

Light Considerations in Design

What exactly does it mean to design around natural light? “Being able to control the lighting, whether it’s the natural light that you have, the UV rays that you get through a window, visibility, and window coverings—all those things start tying together when you’re creating the proper environment,” says Gonzalez.

Window styles, configurations, and glazing can all work together to create a functional, healthy, and inspiring light-filled home. In addition to working within the four walls of a home, thoughtful architects take siting into account—understanding the lot or land the building is on so windows can be best placed in the home to maximize natural light.

Another consideration is the difference between light and view. The two are often confused, but they’re not the same. For example, a homeowner might want more light in a room, but the view from that part of the home might be of a neighbor’s house. To have privacy on that wall, the homeowner might choose to tint or obscure that glass, allowing light to stream in even if the view isn’t worth framing.

Emotional and Physical Benefits

When a home’s design embraces and enhances the benefits of natural sunlight through deliberate choices that strengthen our connection to the outdoors, those much-desired feelings of well-being will be the natural result. “If you do a good job as an architect, the resident won’t even know that they’re experiencing biophilic design,” says Gonzalez. “They don’t even think about it—it just feels good.”

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Remodelers brace for deceleration

Michael J. Berens

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

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Remodelers brace for deceleration

The good news for remodelers, according to recent forecasts, is that demand is expected to continue to grow over the next three years. The not-so-good news is that growth will be slower than it has been for the past three years.

Although many remodelers remain optimistic conditions will improve in the months ahead, some already are anticipating a decline in the fourth quarter of this year.

Recently released data confirms the trend reported last month that remodeling activity remained strong in the third quarter of this year. Metrostudy announced that its Residential Remodeling Index (RRI) hit a new all-time high in the third quarter (115.7), up 1.1 percent from the previous quarter and 5.2 percent from the same time last year.

That makes 26 consecutive quarters of quarter-over-quarter growth since 2011, said Metrostudy. The report projects that all 381 metro statistical areas (MSAs) should experience growth of around 4.8 percent for the year.

Mark Boud, chief economist at Metrostudy, attributed the growth to a strong job market and people choosing to remain in their homes and make improvements rather than purchase a next home. At the same, noted Boud, other factors, such as an expected plateau in job growth as the nation approaches full employment, decreasing home affordability, declining sales of existing homes, and increased costs of labor and materials will likely put a damper on demand.

Weighing both sides of the equation, Boud projects “net-positive” modified growth over the next two years of 2.9 percent in 2019 and 2.3 percent in 2020. Growth is expected to move upward again in 2021.

His projections are in keeping with the most recent Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) forecast, which also foresees growth for the entire home improvement industry decelerating from a decade high of 7.7 percent this year to 6.6 percent by the third quarter of 2019.

Some remodelers are already beginning to experience softening demand and anticipate a decline in growth in the fourth quarter.

GuildQuality, which conducts customer service surveys for various industries, reported that the portion of remodelers responding to its 2018 Fourth Quarter Market Predictions survey who stated they believe market conditions would decline in the fourth quarter hit an all-time quarter-over-quarter high, up 17.1 percent, or more than four times that of the third quarter. The portion who stated they believed the market would improve dropped by 20 percent.

In addition, only 50 percent of respondents to the GuildQuality survey said they thought their company’s performance would improve in the fourth quarter, compared to 71.2 percent a year ago. At the same time, the portion who anticipated performance would decline rose 7.4 percent (to 9.8 percent vs. 2.4 percent in 2017).

These figures are mostly an indication of just how well business has been lately for remodelers, who did not experience the usual seasonal slowdown in fourth quarter demand last year, rather than the beginning of a downward slope.

On the whole, remodelers remain optimistic that market conditions will remain favorable in the coming months. The portion of GuildQuality respondents who said current market conditions are “Good” or “Excellent” actually increased by 1.7 percent (to 84.3 percent) over the previous quarter.

Similarly, the National Association of Home Builder’s third quarter Remodeling Market Index (RMI) found market conditions have remained relatively stable, with a majority of remodelers experiencing positive growth, although expecting some possible softening in the fourth quarter.

These fluctuations are likely to continue as market conditions wobble between opportunities and challenges. Remodelers will need to adjust to a new pace in the year ahead, not exactly that of the tortoise, but not that of the hare they have enjoyed lately.

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About the Author

Michael J. Berens

Michael J. Berens is a freelance researcher and writer with more than 30 years of experience in association communication and management. He can be reached at

Continue reading Remodelers brace for deceleration

ASID Business Tools


ASID understands the challenges associated with business ownership and has developed an exclusive set of member benefits designed to help you navigate the waters to long-term success. These must-have business tools offer our members protection, promotion, coverage, certification, education, and CEUs.


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Inventory boost lifts home sales

Michael J. Berens

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

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Inventory boost lifts home sales

More buyers looked favorably on the housing market in October, encouraged by a greater number of homes for sale, continued slowing in home prices, and a temporary decline in mortgage rates.

Existing home sales posted their first month-over-month positive growth in six months. New home sales, on the other hand, plummeted to their lowest point in over three-and-a-half years, even as inventories increased and prices dropped. Riding the same downward trajectory, construction of new homes also declined for the second month in a row.

Although the number of existing homes for sale decreased slightly from the end of September to the end of October, available inventory was up from the same period a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Real estate website Zillow reports that total available inventory in the metro areas it tracks rose 3 percent year-over-year in October, the first time in four years it has exceeded 1 percent growth. Availability was not widespread, however, with metro areas in California, for example, reporting big gains.

Home prices remain high, but the pace at which prices have been increasing has been slowing over the past six months due to weak sales. According to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index, prices in October were 5.1 percent higher than a year ago, down from 5.5 percent in September. The NAR stated the median price of an existing home was 3.8 percent higher than in October 2017, down from 4.2 percent year-over-year in September.

Along with increased inventory and easing prices, some buyers in late October would have been able to take advantage of a temporary dip in mortgage rates that occurred in response to turbulence in the stock and bond markets. That may have provided an added incentive to commit to a purchase while conditions were more favorable.

These trends helped push sales of existing homes up 1.4 percent for the month, compared with September’s drop of 3.4 percent, said the NAR. It was the first time since March that month-over-month sales enjoyed positive growth.

Activity was strongest in the Northeast, South and West. Most of the gains came from sales of condos and co-ops, which were up 5.3 percent over the previous month. Sales of single-family homes remained nearly flat, and are now 5.3 percent lower than the same time last year.

Higher than average prices (for existing homes) and rising interest rates are taking their toll on new home sales, which plunged 8.9 percent in October, following a 5.5 percent drop in September, to their lowest point since March 2016. The median price of a new home dipped to $309,700 (3.1 percent lower than the same time last year), but the average price was $395,000 – both far higher than the $255,400 median price (up 3.8 percent) for an existing home sold last month.

The softening market for new homes pushed inventories up to 7.4 months, the highest level of supply in seven and half years, reports MarketWatch. Not surprisingly, new single-family starts declined 1.8 percent from September, and permit requests were down 0.6 percent.

While October’s numbers were a welcome relief for real estate agents after a disappointing third quarter, market indicators suggest the growth in sales is not likely to continue for the remainder of the fourth quarter. Fannie Mae stated that its Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI) fell for the second month in a row, by 2 points, in October.

Concerns about home prices, mortgage rates, and personal financial security combined to bring down the portion of participants saying “now is a good time to buy a home” by 5 points and those saying “now is a good time to sell a home” by 3 points.

Builders, too, are less optimistic about business activity in the coming months. In announcing that the Housing Market Index (HMI) for November had decreased by 8 points, to 60 (its lowest point in over three years), Randy Noe, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, stated builders are reporting “that customers are taking a pause due to concerns over rising interest rates and home prices.” Current sales activity was down 7 points, customer traffic down 8 points, and expected future activity down 10 points.

Activity is expected to remain flat or worse going into next year. At the NAR’s annual conference earlier this month, chief economist Lawrence Yun told the audience his current forecast projects existing-home sales this year will finish at a pace of 5.345 million — a decrease from 2017 (5.51 million). In 2019, sales are forecasted to increase to 5.4 million, a 1 percent increase, provided the market begins to stabilize.

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About the Author

Michael J. Berens

Michael J. Berens is a freelance researcher and writer with more than 30 years of experience in association communication and management. He can be reached at

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