Residential Design: What’s New and What’s Still the Same
Anyone with an interest in design and a social media account is constantly bombarded with the newest trends: year-end forecasts, the 10 best lists, the 10 ways to improve, spaces to inspire, and must-have furniture. These articles can be a catalyst for new home projects and introduce us to new artists, designers and retailers, but what’s often missing is a more macro view of not just where good design is heading, but where it’s been.
Looking at the past decade of residential design, we have noticed that the desire for ample room has remained the same, but most recently people are more focused on creating multi-functional, multi-use, and flexible spaces. As designers, we help clients think about how their lifestyle might evolve, looking through the windshield, but also keeping an eye on the rear-view mirror; changes in family size, hobbies, interests, and activities can necessitate adaptable layouts and the careful use of built-in elements.
Another increasing concern is healthy living, as we consider the impact of building materials and systems in our homes. Such sustainable design concepts as indoor air quality and non-toxic building materials, décor and finishes are playing an integral role in residential design. This continued push for well-being beginning in the home has us exploring new technologies and integrating sustainable design solutions from around the world.
We’ve also noticed the embrace of the basement level as part of the primary home. With some smart strategies to maximize daylight and comfort, basements can offer additional space that can change with use; from playrooms to art studios to home gyms. Creating lightwells and modifying site grading can result in larger windows and adding more head-height when possible, dampens the sense of being underground.
With homeowners planning for elder relatives, as well as simply growing older in their homes, aging in place is another topic that is often discussed. Simple planning can provide the structure required for future assistive elements like elevators, grab bars and low/zero thresholds and the provision of wider hallways and placing appliances in accessible locations are subtle, non-intrusive ways to plan for the future.
Certain fundamental elements of good design that have held steady over the past decade also come to mind—natural light, open plan concepts and an emphasis on more casual interactive living. In kitchens, these concepts have been expressed in the continued desire for the kitchen to be the heart of the home—a social spot that is connected to other rooms but innately promotes gathering. Islands have remained important, scaled to act as food preparation areas, but also for casual dining and work areas. The double island is in fact an emerging trend. This separates the food preparation surface from the casual dining and work surface so that both activities can occur simultaneously. Smart storage is still crucial, and while cabinetry has experienced variations in color and finish preferences, practical layouts have proven timeless.