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Top Six Home Trends in 2011


We spoke to designers, architects, builders and others in the home and fashion industries. As we had those conversations, some topics kept cropping up.

So, here’s what the experts are talking about: the top trends for 2011 in home building and design.

Trend #1: New Life for Old Materials

It’s more than merely recycling. It’s finding ways to turn substance into style — by taking raw material from one source and repurposing it in a completely unexpected way.

From metal tiles made of reclaimed airplane parts to countertops and wall panels made of recycled glass bottles, these innovative reworkings are adding creative flair – and sustainable substance — to homes across America.

Trend #2: Designing For Yourself

Americans are staying longer in their homes. With that comes a desire to make their homes fit their lifestyle. People aren’t designing a home to be as bland as possible for the next buyer – they’re designing it for themselves, to be lived in to the fullest.

In keeping with this, architects and designers say there’s a new definition of value. It’s not about the lowest price.

It’s about quality, durability and getting the style and the performance you want from the products in your home, whether that’s a sofa or a picture window.

Trend #3: Natural Materials

If it sprouted from the earth, designers are finding a way to use it in homes.

Flooring is one area where you might find a surprising substance under your feet – like palm, for example. How about wallcoverings made of banana trees? Ceiling tiles of jute? And while not as exotic as these other materials, sustainably grown pine can be found in window frames and other structural elements.

These products deliver beauty and durability along with their eco-friendly origins. The use of natural materials is still in its infancy in mainstream housing – but expect to see them more and more in the future.

Trend #4: Trad-Mod

As the name suggests, these are traditional elements with a modern twist – a little sleeker, a little surprising. Examples include streamlined living and dining room sets, silk chandeliers and casement windows that simulate the look of a classic double hung.

Trend #5: Relaxed Outdoor Living

Forget the elaborate outdoor kitchens of a few years ago. Outdoor living is still important to American homeowners, but they’re going for a more relaxed, low-key version. Think fireplaces and fire pits, comfortable outdoor seating and dining areas, interesting lighting and simple counter space.

And to connect indoors and out, energy-efficient patio doors – either sliding or swinging — are a must.

Trend #6: Energy Efficiency and Sustainability

No list of home trends would be complete without these topics – and they only get more important every year. The largest annual study of American homebuying preferences, by AVID Ratings, found that four of the top 10 desired home features involve energy efficiency. So, alongside such features as walk-in closets and kitchen islands, American homebuyers want:

  • Energy-efficient windows
  • Energy-efficient appliances
  • High-efficiency insulation

Sustainability includes conserving water, maximizing natural heat and light, and using low-VOC materials (volatile organic compounds). Quality and durability are also part of the sustainability picture. Well-built, high quality home products last longer — and don’t end up in landfills.

Many thanks to the experts who shared their 2011 predictions. Special thanks to

Christine L. Albertsson AIA, CID, NCARB, Albertsson Hansen Architecture, Ltd.

Kurt Gough, A-AIA, Shelter Architecture

Susan Nackers Ludwig, Residential Architect