BALA Forecasts Design Trends for 2017 and Beyond

There were 127 single-family, multifamily, remodeling, and community projects honored at the 2016 Best in American Living Awards ceremony in January at the National Association of Home Builders’ International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Florida.

That means there were 127 examples of the top design trends that home buyers expect to see over the next several years in your building and remodeling projects. They include:

Benches and nooks. In single-family custom and production homes, architects and designers include benches and nooks because they’re cozy, chic and practical, serving as places to snuggle up with the kids or a good book.

Big showers and tubs. Showers continue to get larger and free-standing tubs more luxurious. Walk-in showers feature wall-to-wall glass and universal design features.

Board and batten. You’ll see a lot of this siding on the exteriors of this year’s winners, and they also add a classic touch to today’s contemporary interiors. Some winners add a unique spin by adjusting the width of the boards, giving homes a more customized, one-of-a-kind feel.

Dark door and window frames.
On multifamily, custom and production homes, architects and designers are choosing dark brown or black frames around windows and doors instead of whites. Windows pop on white or light siding, and dark frames add a striking effect from the interior looking out.

Modern farmhouse.
We’re seeing farmhouse sinks, reused wood siding in interior design details and barn doors that are customized to have a more contemporary feel, incorporating glass, white tints and metal hardware.

Metal roofs.
Metal roofs are featured on custom homes across the country, from more traditional homes to modern farmhouse and distinctively modern homes.

Natural wood beams.
From remodels to new homes, wood beams left in their original state add a natural touch and create a focal point in interiors.

Natural wood ceilings. Hardwood floors have always been popular with home owners, but this year’s winners included an unusual number of homes with natural wood ceilings. These ceilings add warmth and can be used in traditional and more contemporary designs.

Shiplap inside and out.
Horizontal shiplap is increasingly chosen for exteriors and is featured in entryways, bathrooms, living rooms and more.

Under-stair storage. Architects and designers did not let spaces under the staircases go to waste. Often, these spaces include shelves for books and works of art. One winner even included an entire bar under the living room stairs.

Unique wine storage.
Wine storage is now a prominent feature in the home. Kitchens include floor-to-ceiling open or glass-enclosed wine storage, and customized wine racks appear in many of this year’s winners. Combining the under-stair-storage trend with this one, one team included an extensive wine collection under the stairs with glass doors and display lighting.

White on white.
This trend is back in 2017 and appears universally across homes. Perhaps most prominently, white on white is showcased beautifully in kitchens.

How Many Bathrooms in the Typical New Home?

How Many Bathrooms in the Typical New Home?

The share of new single-family homes with three or four full bathrooms has increased in the last several years, according to the latest Survey of Construction data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

As National Association of Home Builders economist Carmel Ford reports in a recent Eye on Housing blog post, this trend may reflect the move by builders to focus on higher-end, larger homes in the post-recession period. However, recent data indicate that this trend started to reverse: the median square feet of new homes declined in the second quarter of 2016. Growth in the number of smaller homes, such as townhomes, may emerge going forward in response to first-time buyers returning to the market.

Of new single-family homes started in 2015, 4% have one or less full bathrooms, 59% have two full bathrooms, 27% have three full bathrooms, and 10% have four or more full bathrooms.

The Figure 1 chart below shows that from 2005 to 2015 the share of new homes with two full bathrooms or less edged downward while the percentage of new homes with three or four full bathrooms increased.

View the Eye on Housing blog post for more details.

Lots in 2015 Smallest on Record

Lots in 2015 Smallest on Record

The median lot size of a new single-family detached home sold in 2015 dropped under 8,600 square feet for the first time since the Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction started tracking the series.

An acre is 43,560 square feet, so the current median lot size is just under one-fifth of an acre. Using a football field as a measuring stick, 5.6 median lots would fit between the goal lines of a football field in 2015.

As National Association of Home Builders economist Natalia Siniavskaia reports in a recent Eye on Housing blog post, although the nation’s lots are getting smaller on average, the regional differences in lot sizes persist.

Looking at single-family (attached and detached) spec homes started in 2015, the median lot size in New England exceeds half an acre. This is 2.6 times larger than the national median.

New England is known for strict local zoning regulations that often require very low densities. Therefore, it is not surprising that more than half of single-family spec homes started in New England are built on some of the largest lots in the nation, with more than half of the lots exceeding half an acre.

The East South Central Division is a distant second, with the median lot occupying less than one-third of an acre. The Pacific Division, where densities are high and developed land is scarce, has the smallest lots – half of them are under 0.15 acres. The neighboring Mountain and West South Central Divisions also report typical lots smaller than the national median, at 0.17 and 0.16 acres, respectively.

Two-thirds of Home Buyers Seek Single-Story Living

Most home buyers apparently aren’t afraid of doing a little yard work. The majority – regardless of age – say they’d prefer a single-family detached home. A much smaller group of buyers have a preference for townhouses, attached homes, multifamily apartments or condos.

The findings come from National Association of Home Builder’s 2015 study Housing Preferences of the Boomer Generation: How They Compare to Other Home Buyers; other National Association of Home Builders studies also show preferences for home size and community amenities.

A recent Eye on Housing post also noted preferences for home layout. Sixty-four percent of all buyers want a single-story home, but that figure is largely driven by seniors and baby boomers. Less than half of Gen Xers and barely a third of millennials are interested single-story living.

However, the majority of home buyers in each generation can still agree on one thing: lugging laundry to and from the basement is a hassle. Most want the laundry room on the first floor.