Remodel Trends for 2011
After the demanding economic times of the past few years, it's not surprising to see homeowners choosing projects that evoke feelings of comfort. People are also going out less and entertaining at home more, so improvements that increase the usability of available space are popular.
The Zen-Like Bathroom
The 'bathroom as spa' (aka, 'hideout from daily life') has been a trend for years and is still going strong. Luxurious elements such as Jacuzzi tubs, steam showers, and dual showerheads add to the effect, and heated floors are another great touch. According to some designers, rectangular sinks are gaining ground, as are larger-sized tiles for flooring. Wood-based elements reminiscent of actual spas are also being seen more frequently.
Tip: Think of ways to incorporate as much technology as possible, for example, by installing a flat screen TV for the bath.
Light is a crucial factor in boosting interior appeal, and skylights are a wonderful way to introduce it into your home. Most of their cost is due to the installation, not their size, so if you are making the investment be sure to choose a large enough skylight.
Tip: A good time to inquire about adding skylights is when you re-roof your home. Also, remember that north-facing skylights tend to provide consistent, diffused light, while those that face south can sometimes overheat a home.
Warm, Muted Colors
Experts predict that warm neutrals and pastels will continue to be popular this year, along with the creams, beige, and mushroom colors that until recently were more common in higher end homes. However, you'll also notice a surprising blend of cool and warm colors added to the mix, as you can see from Pantone's Top Colors for 2011, below.
HGTV's 'Design Happens' blog writers say that they always use the Pantone color forecast as a general guide, and this month they chose Silver Peony as their Color of the Month. If you'd like to see some good photos of Silver Peony being used in a home, click here; and, if you'd like to see what Honeysuckle looks like in interior decor, click here.
Tip: When considering resale, it's usually safer to choose a color that doesn't make a huge statement. All colors have undertones, so be sure to choose one with a warm, not cool, undertone if that's what you're aiming for. (It helps to compare similar paint chips side by side). And, if you venture into honeysuckle territory, just remember to tread carefully. :)
Open, Informal Kitchens
The kitchen is still the heart of the home, and it's a place where great feel should meet functionality. Today's home buyers overwhelmingly choose kitchens that are open to a gathering place such as a family room, so remember to think 'flow,' and try to envision several people cooking and guests mingling when you consider floor plans.
Kitchen flooring these days is frequently tile, especially ceramic tile or natural stone tile such as honed Travertine. Hardwood is also a popular choice, although more subject to water damage, and granite and quartz are still very popular materials for countertops. Soapstone is another countertop option that is gaining a solid following, although it requires a little more care.
Tip: When remodeling a kitchen, remember to preserve (or create) enough counter and cupboard space. Above all, a kitchen needs to be functional!
If you're working with a smaller kitchen, you might find good ideas on HGTV's '10 Small Kitchens' photo gallery page; click here to see it.
In keeping with the fact that more people are choosing to stay in and use their homes for relaxing and entertaining, designers recommend lighting that makes it easier to use the same rooms in different ways. Installing a combination of task lighting, accent lighting, and mood lighting lets you add versatility to your interior spaces.
Tip: Traditional can lighting fixtures are being replaced by smaller, more sophisticated styles, or ones with interchangeable trim that allows for a huge variety of looks.
You may never plan to retire in your home, but someone else might! The senior population is one of the fastest-growing demographic segments in the United States, so it's wise to consider any way that you can incorporate what is typically referred to as 'universal design' into your improvement projects.
Tip: Wider doorways take a bit of effort, but hand-held showerheads and hand grips in bathtub areas are easy ways to remodel with the growing senior home buyer market in mind.
The trend of turning outdoor spaces into entertaining areas has gained enormous popularity over the past few years. (Again, this is in part because people are choosing to stay home and make better use of the spaces that they already have.)
Tip: Envision how you anticipate using the space, not just now, but in five or ten years. Installing an outdoor cooking area, fireplace, and electronic entertainment (or at least wiring for it) will allow the space to retain its value and functionality for years to come.
Small, Must-Do Projects
In general, interior design projects today are smaller and less expensive than they were four or five years ago, and more likely to fall into the 'must do' category than the 'want to' category.
That being said, if a major improvement is going to make a significant difference to your home's value, its structural integrity, its long-term energy efficiency, or your own personal enjoyment, then those are certainly good reasons to consider making a substantial investment.
Tip: It's worth spending some extra money to not fall short of the overall look you're going for. For example, mixing high end countertops with low end flooring can result in a 'What's wrong with this picture?' feeling that defeats the entire remodel. At the same time, if you feel that your remodel choices are edging into the extravagant, consider carefully before moving forward.
Which Styles Will Remain Popular?
This is a tough question, and the answer can vary greatly depending on the type of home you're working with, but here's a general concept to keep in mind when remodeling for the long term: along with good functionality, which is crucial, try to stay away from anything that could someday be seen as glitzy or too trendy. For example, over the long run, matte finish is likely to trump shiny; clean lines are likely to hold their appeal compared to elaborate detailing; and a warm, muted earth tone color will probably win over honeysuckle.
Tip: When in doubt, think of Audrey Hepburn in 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' versus, say, Fergie. :) A clean, classic look is more likely to retain its appeal even when fashions change.
Do you have questions about any of this information? Please check with me before beginning a remodel project, even a small one! I can often provide you with advice that saves you time or money from the outset, and I'll be happy to recommend service providers who have proven to be reliable.
(What the lawyers make us say: The information in this newsletter is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Please always consult a qualified expert before making decisions based on this content. Nothing in this article is meant to be taken as expert legal, financial, or medical advice.)