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Top home trends: Energy efficiency, smarter use of space, letting the light in

By Berit Griffin April 9, 2012

Now that we’re well into 2012, we’ve compiled a list of top home trends. Are you seeing any of these in your work?

  1. Energy efficiency: Americans are looking for superior energy efficiency in every important feature of their home. ENERGY STAR-rated windows, high-efficiency furnaces and air conditioners, quality attic insulation – they’ll all save money and make the home more comfortable year-round.
  2. High quality, high function: Today’s homeowners want items that not only look good, but perform flawlessly. Fit, finish and smooth operation are essential – whether it’s a refrigerator, a sofa or
    a window. Consumers want both beauty and practicality.
  3. Not-so-big living: Architect Sarah Susanka first proposed this idea more than a decade ago, and it’s been spreading ever since. The not-so-big house is carefully planned for the owner’s needs, not designed to impress others. Investing in high-quality components and finishes for the home offers more lasting value than paying for poorly used square footage.
  4. Renovation nation: Americans are putting down roots; we’re moving less than at any time since World War II. Instead of moving, we’re staying in our homes longer and renovating the living spaces to fit our lifestyle. New kitchens, new windows, reconfigured living spaces – they’re all part of creating a home that is “Built to perform.”
  5. Let the sunshine in: Screened porches, sun rooms and window walls – they’re all geared toward bringing the outdoors in. And with modern, energy-efficient windows and patio doors, there’s no penalty in comfort or energy efficiency.
  6. Keeping it simple: Clean, simple lines are the order of the day. Furniture, tile, moldings, backsplashes, appliances – the less fussy, the better.
  7. Make room for family: With multiple generations living under one roof more often these days, more Americans are making the house accommodate the extended family. In-law suites, bedroom additions and basement makeovers (including egress windows) are becoming more popular.
  8. Aging in place and universal design: Older Americans not living with their children want to maintain their independence for as long as possible. That means universal design that allows them to age in place. Easy-opening windows, large showers with benches and grab bars, lower countertops – all help make homes more accessible and comfortable for older residents.
  9. Indoor/outdoor living: Americans love the easygoing back-and-forth between their kitchen and a deck or patio. It makes entertaining easier and makes the house live larger. A quality patio door is a must for these high-traffic areas.
  10. Lighter and brighter: Lighter colors and natural light make a home feel cheerful and energizing. “Daylighting” – using windows to bring in as much natural light as possible – also can help lower energy bills.