The rebounding new home market has fueled a change in attitudes about what we want from our homes when we build them from the ground up. After enduring a real estate decline, as the market improves, we value our homes that much more. Most of us are thinking through the details of what we want in our homes with a greater sense of clarity about how we really live in our spaces. Our focus is much less on size and has instead turned toward making the most of every room.
The chef is on display: Kitchens are now designed for a crowd If all your hours spent watching the Food Network have left you feeling like you’re a burgeoning chef in need of a kitchen fit for one of television’s celebrated chefs, you’re not alone. The more sumptuous the kitchen we see in that home magazine, and the more educated we become about domestic skills — gourmet cooking being a favorite practice to take up — the more we desire the tools to support our developing abilities. For kitchens, we want to go beyond the gas range and custom storage for all possible ingredients. Admit it: The serious home chef cooks, in part, to be seen cooking. So, a kitchen island with seating for one’s audience — whether the fans are family or guests — is a must. You’ll want top-notch lighting, too, to better see you and your edible creations.
Keep an eye out for trends from annual idea homes and dream homes from HGTV, Southern Living, Coastal Living and other media In tracking trends for our feature on some of this year’s leading design homes, kitchens designed for a crowd made appearances in several top idea homes or dream homes. Look no further than the 2012 Sunset Idea House (“Breezehouse”), the Southern Living Idea Home or Coastal Living’s Ultimate Beach House for kitchens designed for gathering. That’s a good lesson, by the way: If you spot a trend in one of these major show homes, look for it to show up in real life soon after. Major show homes and idea homes don’t just reflect our preferences; they help drive the market.
The rise of the supremely outfitted home In 2013, we predict a distinct rise in supremely outfitted homes. Anne Robert, a London-based style maven at theoutdoorstylist.com, calls this the “uber trend.” “A home’s value will be measured on its ability to be as good, if not better, than relevant spaces out in the market,” says Roberts. “Ideally, you want a kitchen good enough for a chef, a gym equipped like your local gym, a bathroom that echoes a spa. You want your home office to be as well connected as you are at work.”
It’s all happening in the home gym Take the gym: Innovations in home gyms have exploded in the past few years, with svelte new fitness equipment from manufacturers like TechnoGym leading the way. For those of us who prefer to sweat and strain in private, a home gym is a must. No longer is this reserved for professional athletes and trainers. The well-equipped home gym is within reach for those of us who have a room to dedicate (or even part of a room, thanks to the latest modular fitness equipment). We no longer have to worry about how our gym equipment will look sharing space in a home office, because sophisticated fitness machines designed specifically for home use are so beautiful that they outshine their commercial counterparts. The TechnoGym Kinesis Personal Vision is a perfect example of gorgeous modern technology. When not in use, it folds up to disguise itself as a full-length mirror.
Time for a shower? Take it outdoors In 2013, when you’re done working out, you may clean up indoors in a master bath that features a curbless and stall-less shower, a modern luxury like one you’d find in a European boutique hotel. Or, if you really want to get out ahead of the trend, you’ll relax in an outdoor spa, like the Sundance Spas Select Series, an eco-friendly line that operates efficiently without forgoing the comfort-inducing features that the company’s hot tubs are known for. Privacy is key for outdoor spas. Landscape designers have met this need by incorporating hedges, potted plants, seating and foot-friendly surfaces known as hardscape to walk on. None of this is an afterthought; landscapers are fashioning deliberate outdoor rooms that cater to the needs of home spa enthusiasts. Which leads us to … the outdoor shower. The growing popularity of outdoor bathing is due to adaptations in product and landscape designs that establish privacy. “Our parents and grandparents didn’t think we’d ever see three bathrooms in a single family home,” says Robert. “But that’s expected now, and soon, outdoor bathrooms will be expected, too.” Robert should know. She’s a regular at design-oriented trade shows that set trends for the international market, as well as for the U.S., so she is uniquely positioned to spot trends in home design as they’re on the ascent. What else does she see happening in our homes next year? Pick up your smartphone to find out.
Have your iPhone call my outdoor fireplace Now more than ever, gardens are outdoor living spaces. The trend for outdoor space to meet and merge with indoor space is here to stay. If the intersection of indoors and outdoors is where the action is, it becomes clear that you do need an outdoor fireplace that you can control from your iPhone. Not techie enough for you? Vondom’s Faz outdoor lounger, coming to market in 2013, features a moveable sun shade and built-in, iPod-compatible audio system.
While you’re at it, have your smart phone call my house, too The infusion of technology we’re seeing outdoors also applies to the whole house. Now, due to major advancements in home-automation technology, you can control your home by voice from anywhere. Just ask Siri, Apple’s automated assistant — she’ll explain the matter for you. Android phones and tablets like the iPad round out the tool kit we can increasingly use to call and control our homes from afar. We’re lucky. Home automation’s early adopters ferreted out the kinks, and new systems coming to market in 2013 are so easy to use, everyone will want one. Wondering if you set your alarm when you left home today? Call your security system and tell it to activate. With systems like HAL (Home Automated Living), which works through your PC, you can also enjoy having your emails read aloud and the stock market checked for you. In 2013, systems like these will become more fluid, allowing for an easy transition that’s inviting to those of us who weren’t early adopters in home automation. The ability of such systems to accurately monitor home energy use will allow you to focus your conservation efforts based on real data.
Name that tune And it’s not just your home’s lighting, cooling and security systems you can call and connect with. What’s that song you wanted to hear? Say it out loud, and your digital music center responds on command. Want to hear Springsteen in the living room while your teenage daughter blasts Taylor Swift in her bedroom? Not a problem — the automated system can handle it. Want to cue up a video in your home’s movie database? Call home. Get the picture? As you can see, it all starts with a phone call. In our article on home automation, a top home-automation expert notes wryly that we’re all walking around with a $600 remote control in our pocket all day long. It’s called a smartphone. Look for it to be used often and in increasingly novel ways in 2013.
Green is mainstream Notice that we’re not calling out eco-friendly building and living as a separate trend? That’s because green is now a given. Builders and home owners alike have seen the benefits of an environmentally-conscious approach to development and lifestyle, so those improvements can be found as part and parcel to the trends noted in our coverage.
Sarah Kinbar is a freelance writer and editor for leading print and online publications. Formerly editor in chief of Garden Design, she has also written and edited for Cottage Living, Modern Magazine and Orlando Arts. This post originally appeared on NewHomeSource.com, reprinted with permission.