10 Hot Trends in Home Design

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey

LAS VEGAS  Contemporary touches are what home owners and buyers desire in 2009, according to a panelist of designers at a session Tuesday on “Design Trends Marketplace” at the International Builder Show. Today’s minimalist design may mix straighter furniture elements, two different colors repeated throughout (e.g. white and green) and a mix of fun, bold accessories (such as a red chair) or a traditional element (such as an antique mirror).

Indeed, contemporary architecture is even spreading to suburbia (see examples from Agave’s energy efficient contemporary homes in Austin, Texas).

Here are some of the common design trends growing in demand.

1. Lighting options used as pieces of art in funky shapes (see examples: www.lightcrafters.com). A variety of lighting options can be used that are decorative yet functional.

2. Outdoor living that serves as an extension of the inside of the home with outdoors that boast comfortable seating, audio, TVs, a fireplace, and artwork to punch up the space.

3. Design accessories reflecting nature speak to buyers who are more aware of preserving the environment. For example, tree designs are popular, such as via an art sculpture, painting, or even reflected in a table (see www.palecek.com).

4. Green design elements, such as water-efficient appliances and LED lighting under the kitchen cabinets, continue to gain traction and offer cost savings.

5. His and her amenities are increasing, such as even separate garages and vanities with his countertop higher than her’s for a more custom look.

6. Car lifts offer compact storage of vehicles and are expected to grow in popularity as lot sizes grow smaller. A basement built under a garage can allow for the car to descend into the basement until you need it. Or a garage with a higher ceiling can stow the car above.

7. Windows can serve as focal points of a room as well as boost energy efficiency. Floor-to-ceiling windows can add drama to a room.

8. Wood in dark or light stains and in various materials are being used throughout homes. For example, wood details on the ceiling can enhance the architecture and Palmwood, which comes from coconut palms, can be used to add a featured wall in the room.

9. Mirrors add glamour to a room and help buyers see themselves in the space–literally. Mirrors add a focal point, enlarge rooms, and can be an important detail to include in homes (see www.mirrormatecommercial.com for examples).

10. More electronics are being sprinkled everywhere, such as iPod docking stations throughout the home and TVs in practically every room (e.g. kitchen, study, and bathrooms).

Melissa Tracey

Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, writing about home & design trends, technology, and sales and marketing. She manages the magazine's award-winning Styled, Staged & Sold blog.

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  1. Jennifer Jones Design, Inc.

    Green-Green-Green! All aspects follow this intense re-use, re-structure. I love purchasing antique lighting and re-habing…they are full of character. Items transformed from one usage into another as per a restored item to lamp.

    Kitchen hardwood cabinets, restored and re-hab into new remodeling.
    Stone and porcelain tiles are truly “GREEN” Some are absolutely fabulous.

    And, always look for bargains in consignment stores, they are full of wonderful
    old upholstered goods, that when stripped down and re-worked are better than “new”.

  2. Outdoor living is the way to go! You can easily expand a too small living space with an outdoor great room rather than moving to a larger house or create a backyard resort rather than making a larger carbon footprint by going on vacation.
    Be inspired with la-Fete’s outdoor rooms of comfortable, weatherproof, strikingly designed resort beds & modular lounge seating to create that lifestyle you’ve aspired to. Great pix on: http://www.la-fete.biz to make use of that patio or pool-side area with new concept furniture that’s 95% recyclable and renewable.
    It’s amazing how good & functional design can improve our lives even in tough times. Enjoy!

  3. Miriam Weinreb Lissak

    When we were kids, we learned in school that the 3 R’s were reading, writing and arithmetic. Ask any student today and they will tell you that the 3 R’s are reuse, recycle and reduce. That concept can be put into home design now. Remodling ones space to make it resaleable at a more affordable time is a trend now. With not being able to move around a lot today, we are making our current spaces nicer, keeping in mind the envirionment. We are thinking about the future of our planet as well as our personal future with the economy. Replenishable materials such as bamboo, are large these days. Less is more – a phrase that has held true throughout our decades. Glass tiles whether hand blown or machined are popular materials as well.

  4. In today’s market….style is what its all about. But remember, even though this is the thing that buyers and home owner’s want to focus on…it can cost a lot of money.
    When a home owner is getting ready to put their home up for sale …..agents all across America agree….staging a home prior to putting it on the market increases their chances of a sale by 300% to 400%. There are some simple things that can be done. Find a professional agency to help. If that isn’t in the budget….then ask around.
    There are Real Estate Agency’s who can suggest some one. Our team offers staging as a part of our regular routine for home sellers…..and for buyers we offer vision. We make suggestions while walking through a home…on how to change rooms, how to bring more light in, places to go for discounts, ways to accomplish things that a buyer needs done. There is no cost for our service. Its our job to help our clients to the best of our ability. We offer landscaping tips, remodeling tips, staging tips, printed materials on each subject, and have even rolled up our own sleeves many times to help accomplish what our buyers and sellers need done…when we are available.
    We suggest bartering with friends and neighbors a swap for their skills with yours. It’s a great way to get things done. Do an old fashion barn raising ( or landscape raising, or paint raising…you get the idea). Throw a party….invite everyone for a great food bash….then put them to work. We can then help by offering our skills in projects when man power is available….at no cost to our clients.
    Its coming back to the basics. We will get through these tough times. America will be strong again. We can all help each other…… As Real Estate Professionals in PIckerington, Ohio….we love sharing with our clients. It brings us alot of new friends……and it works well…. to work well together.

  5. Judy in Ohio is right on! Sellers ASSUME and EXPECT their Agents to ‘know’ what tips, trends, suggestions, they can recommend to ‘make the house sell’. “Surely it is part of the real estate fee” a lady recently said to me….I am certainly no interior designer, but it is easy to surround yourself with professionals! This is not a fad. It will take good old hard word, ingenuity, creativity, and a good working relationship with each and every listing. KNOW your listing and know it well. Let ‘IT speak’ to the Buyers! …That’s right, let the house/condo speak!! Hard work, creative work, professional work, ALWAYS pays off. In our world, that would include for the Buyer, Seller, AND Agent! Best regards from Iowa.

  6. I prepare a quarterly news letter that is distributed to my SOI. I would love to use some of your information in the news letter (credit to the original author of course). Would this be okay?

  7. Colleen McCann

    Double and Triple paned Insulated Windows is also a big seller.

  8. His and her amenities are increasing, such as even separate garages and vanities with his countertop higher than her’s for a more custom look. I don’t agree with this because it is not practical. Wood in dark or light stains and in various materials are being used throughout homes. For example, wood details on the ceiling can enhance the architecture and Palmwood, which comes from coconut palms, can be used to add a featured wall in the room. This is what I do agree with. I am not as experience as the author, I feel this an excellent blog and I enjoyed reading the article.