4 Fading Fads That You Won’t See in 2011

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

two story entranceWe keep hearing about what’s popular in 2011 for home design — but how about what’s not? Builder Magazine writer Jenny Sullivan asked industry experts to weigh in on design fads that you won’t likely see in the new year. Here are some of the fading home trends experts mentioned:

1. Trophy space: Forget those two-story grand entrances. Builders are seeking more affordable, energy efficient design so they are getting rid of large, volume spaces in homes.

2. Just for show: Fancy, overdone rooms won’t cut it in the era of the practical, cash-strapped buyer. Lavish industrial-grade kitchen ranges or fancy master bath spa tubs– that are hardly even used anyway–will fall to the wayside. “The kitchen is once again becoming a working part of the home and not just a showcase,” architect Don Taylor of DW Taylor Associates in Ellicott City, Md., noted in the article. “It needs to provide all of the latest conveniences and technology, but with practical applications in mind. The faux commercial kitchen look may have reached its summit.”

3. Egocentric houses: It’s not just about the interior of a home that makes a home.

Buyers are caring more about its curb appeal and what’s nearby the home as well. Parks, amenities and neighborhood connections create a sense of community, said John M. Thatch, principal with Dahlin Group Architecture and Planning in Pleasanton, Calif. While most infill homes on the boards are 10-20 percent smaller in size, Thatch notes that buyers are willing to trade extra space for a more appealing neighborhood.

4. Home flipping: Gone is the trend of buying a “starter” home or a home for short-term investment. Buyers are now buying for keeps and it’s changing the way they view homes. “The idea of a home as a short-term money maker is essentially gone, so when people do buy they’ll do it with the intention of staying ten years instead of two or three,” says Jim Chittaro, president of Smykal Homes in Chicago. As such, he says buyers will care more about the design of the home and they won’t want it to feel cheap.

Do you have any more fading fads to add to the list?

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. I see increasing use of existing dining and living rooms as another bedroom or office. With more and more people telecommuting and families becoming extended once again in a household, formal living and dining rooms will continue to fade. In new construction, look for buyers to request larger, more functional kitchens tied to family-sized eating areas and great rooms.

  2. I think “Homebuyers” who want to live in their home will not want to think in terms of flipping for investment purposes, but here in Toledo, Ohio; there are many investors taking advantage of the investment opportunities of our market. The homes that have went through foreclosure need help and the distressed home inventory needs reduced. I have seen first hand that it has been very profitable for these investors, and it is also works out well for the families who want a finished home, ready to move in for the long haul!

  3. It’s funny to now read this article because, now as my husband and I are designing our plans for our new home build; these are things we ourselves have said and are already putting into place in planning for our home.

    We want to be able to make the best use of the space available, Room to live, convienience, ease! Beautiful custom finshes, but NO GRANDEUR for us!!!

  4. Sherry Woodward

    When my houses sells and I down size I will not be buying anything with the cheapest light fixtures, cabinets and flooring etc. for an over priced amount. I cannot believe what builders and individual owners want for cheap, poorly constructed homes and town houses and they think we are all so stupid to buy this that will be falling apart in short order.

  5. I have always felt since living at home with my parents that living and dining rooms are a waste of space. It amazes me that builders still design floor plans where so much square footage is dedicated to those areas. Formal entertaining is not the norm and a room with furniture that nobody is allowed to sit in because it was so expensive to buy….just isn’t practical. I agree with these trends, although I am personally sad to hear big foyers are going out as well. I like a grand entrance that says “wow”. Someday I might actually have one! 🙂

  6. I am seeing homebuyers look for smaller, more affordable homes but in more upscale or amenity-rich neighborhoods. It seems more homeowners are willing to sacrifice space in a home for the amentities and community that surround the home. Such things such as community pools, tennis courts, walking paths or trails, parks, etc.

    As far as the home flipping point, I know investors in Arizona who are making a killing by buying cheap foreclosure homes and turning around and selling them for a profit. Ironically, I think Leah is right, it benefits not only the investor on their ROI (even though it is much smaller than it used to be); it also benefits homeowners who are less likely to make a home purchase unless the home has already been remodeled or that is ready to rent out. The main reason is that some buyers are hesitant and a little apprehensive about going in and buying a foreclosure that the seller (the bank) knows nothing about and are not willing to make the necessary repairs to. No information is furnished about its history, condition, as-is warranties, etc; but at least these remodeled homes give them a sense of relief in this regard. Further, many people just don’t have the time or extra money to invest up front to get these properties in the condition they desire and they would much rather spend more in the long run in order to get into something more turn-key right away.


  7. Phil Mitchell

    Post war boomer start retiring this year and will be looking to downsize after raising familes. They will tend to look for single story, energy efficient and maintenance easier homes. Not necessarily far from where they are currently living. Close to the kids and close to where possibly their own parents are living.

  8. I would like to politely dis-agree with some of my colleagues here that formal Living Rooms and Dining Rooms are going out of style…..

    Elegant floor plans and formal lifestyle will NEVER go out of style.

    For as long as there are family gatherings( think Thanksgiving, birthday parties, etc) there will be need for formal Living Rooms and formal Dining Rooms, at least for some people/Families.

    As for mega -mansions, I think there will be more emphasis on QUALITY rather than size. The size of the home is not as important as the craftsmanship and the quality of the upgrades.

    Unfortunately, there are too many builders who deliver mediocre, even substandard homes that lack imagination and the fine details – the upgrades often come with a steep price.

  9. We’ve got some new developments in South San Diego that debunk this trend with their 5000 sq. ft footprints. The grand foyer with the circular staircase, just had one on an inspection today. It sure was beautiful though.

  10. I am seeing more people look for ways to get rid of their built-in entertainment centers and come up with a practical way to set up their television now that so many are flat screens or wall mounted.

    I also agree with the fact that more people are trying to select a neighborhood that has an appealing walkability factor and they are willing to sacrafice yard space so long as they can easily access a park or other amenities.

    Great piece to kick off 2011!

  11. I think that there is a bit of a misnomer here. I do think that most homeowners believe their formal living rooms to be a wasted space….but don’t forget that family room! I think the trend continues to be the great room floor plan that allows the gathering around the kitchen, but room for chatting from the family room as well. I do think formal dining rooms or spaces are still a desireable feature. Also, I see those mega-bathrooms going by the wayside. They will still be larger than those 1940 and 1950 bathrooms, but are no longer the showroom of the house.

  12. Lonnie Davey

    So many of my friends that WERE General Contractors… What a mess. They have all dropped the 3000+ sq foot homes and gone to “retirement” homes and retro’s

    But I like the idea of adding space that is not wasted. Look outside. You take that area of 10X10 or whatever and make that a little extra footage to the house and call it the Love Shack. A little cottage that doubles as a nice little guest room or play room or garden area that is fun to just sit and read the paper.

    I added one to my house and the grandkids come over and just love it. They can go out and play their musical insturment, take the lap top out and hang out ( in the good and bad weather) and have their own bedroom when they come over to visit.

    It was cheep to build, added value to the property and during that special time, we decorate it and make it a fun little place to set the table and enjoy that formal meal (outside the busy kitchen in the house).

    A multipurpose room is the way to go, people just love it. Big seller when you can add extra space to the house for a fraction of the cost.

  13. I have this feeling that staged listings may be taking a back seat as most buyers know of staging and are overlooking this completely. Also, many buyers are looking for a bit of bad paint and grit to do an easy fixer upper. My market though is still loving all the high end amenities.

  14. Celine Teeson

    Buyers still want location and quality – they will always pay more for the community and for a quality built home or townhouse. Kitchens are still the #1 room where buyers upgrade since it is probably the most used room in the home. And Kitchens and bathrooms stay when all the furniture is removed – so it’s a top priority to make it look it’s best –
    Also, I agree – Jacuzzi tubs are rarely used and costly – a larger walk in tiled shower is most desirable and will always retain it’s value. One level living will continue to appeal to the baby boomers generation as many will winter down south and stay active. Builders have to change with the times or their inventory will not be as appealing to today’s new buyers.