10 Design Trends for the New Home Market: Part 1

Last month I had the opportunity to share 10 of the top architecture and design trends I’ve seen so far this year at an event called “60 Design Trends in 60 Minutes”. The new homebuilding industry is constantly changing, and as architects we work hard to stay at the forefront of what home buyers are looking for. As we enter the second half of the 2015, what better time to look at current production housing trends? Broken up into a 2 part series, this week and next we’ll be looking at current trends that can be easily (ok, some more easily than others!) incorporated into home designs today.

1. Zero Step Entry

The Athens Model by Lennar features a zero step entry. Architecture by KGA Studio Architects, PC.

Let’s start at the front porch–literally–with the zero step entry. This is a big selling point for the 55+, or aging in place buyer. In some parts of the country this is a fairly standard detail. They don’t have to deal with things like snow, basements, or hot soil conditions. Here in Colorado it takes a little more effort to achieve this simple detail at the front door. A little more planning from the civil engineer; more concrete and labor from the construction end of it; and on the design side, providing adequate protection in the form of a good front porch.

Zero step entry detail

Getting the entry porch flush with the finished floor is as easy as raising the foundation up, and hanging the floor system inside of the foundation wall. We’ve found this the most economical and durable solution. The additional cost is between $10.00 – $15.00 a lineal foot.

2. Front Doors

Now that we are on the front porch what’s the first thing we usually see? A 6 panel entry door with brass hardware. There are books devoted to entry doors, yet we still only offer one choice (but hey, you get to pick the color!).

Designers and architects are creating exciting, authentic exteriors, but we need more follow through. At KGA we make an effort to find doors that are true to the styling of the house. Door manufacturers are giving us more choices, not only in style but materials. Let’s use them!

Variety of front door options
Door manufacturers today offer a myriad of front door options.

We also need to consider the other doors in the house, starting with the garage doors. These companies are getting on board too, with new styles that allow us to be true to the style of the home’s exterior.

Interior doors are often overlooked as well. I don’t know how many times I’ve walked through a craftsman or contemporary style home only to see the familiar 6 panel doors throughout (sometimes complete with the arched top!).

Today’s buyers are looking at every detail. We should greet them with genuine detailing throughout, starting at the front door.

3. Rolling Doors/Barn Doors

The Athens model by Lennar has a rolling door that separates the kitchen from the laundry. Architecture by KGA Studio Architects, PC.

Pocket doors used to be the only solution to a standard door swing in tight conditions. But if that door came off of the track the only way to fix it was to tear out the wall.

Today we have a better solution, the sliding barn door. The hardware comes in just about any finish, and there are hundreds of styles to match any interior design. It is easy to mount to the wall and door slab. You can even use glass panels as your sliding door. For a more refined look you can hide the hardware behind a piece of stock trim.

A rolling door to the master bath saves space in this master suite. The Monaco by Vantage Homes. Architecture by KGA Studio Architects.

KGA started using this approach in the water closet room of our 55+ home designs. The swing of a standard door makes it difficult to maneuver in this tight space. The sliding door was a solution that the whole team embraced, even the warranty department. The client liked them so much that we now have them sprinkled throughout the house as options.

4. Larger Sliding Glass Doors

Outlined in red you can see the width of a what a typical 6′ wide sliding glass door would look like.

We are lucky to live here in Colorado, especially along the Front Range where we have views from Long’s Peak to Pike’s Peak. And, we usually have great weather too!

Why limit ourselves to a measly six foot wide sliding glass door? Today’s sliding glass door hardware is durable, dependable, and a lot easier to slide. Most manufacturers offer sliding glass doors up to 12’ wide. This is an affordable option that mimics the large “NANO” walls seen in custom homes.

These sliding doors offer a more impactful view and larger opening that can sell the outdoor lifestyle we promote along the Front Range. With these wider sliding glass doors we can really blur the lines between indoors and outdoors.

(A note of caution: you will need to use a thicker wall in order to accommodate the wider track and additional structure required for the larger opening)

5. Infinity Outdoor Rooms

Designers are taking advantage of Colorado’s 300 days of sunshine by expanding the living space outside. It’s more than just a wider door and a covered porch, these spaces are getting totally tricked out.

Interior finishes like tile flooring, ceiling treatments, and wall finishes are being stretched outside. Cheap plastic chairs and tables are being replaced with elegant, comfortable, durable furniture (some of this stuff is nicer than the living room furniture we had when I was a kid!). The TV’s that are outside now rival those that were available for inside the house only ten years ago.

What’s a living room without a fireplace? Yes, those have moved outside too, and they are just as sleek and modern as what you will find inside.

The cool stainless steel 30,000 BTU grill has been replaced with a full on outdoor kitchen, complete with restaurant quality grills, burners, warming bins, refrigerators, freezers, beer taps, wine coolers, sinks…well, you get the idea.

Visit Part 2 of this blog to explore design trends for the Bath, Kitchen and Garage.  We also look at how—and why—Millennials are influencing new home design trends.

About the Author:
John Guilliams brings 30 years of experience in residential architecture to his position as Director of Design for KGA Studio Architects, PC Production Design Studio. He first presented the material in this blog at “60 Design Trends in 60 Minutes” on June 18, 2015, an event put on by the Remodelers and 55+ Housing Industry Councils of the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver.