The Latest Trends in Home Construction and Renovation

The whole point of building a custom home or doing a major renovation is to create a space that is wholly personal, which means you shouldn’t be beholden to trends. But in the interest of education, let’s talk about some things that are happening now.

BY LAURA KOSTELNY PUBLISHED IN D HOME JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2014
NATURAL SELECTIONS

Floor tiles from Porcelanosa’s Parker line. Courtesy of vendor
Step away from the super-dark, hand-scraped floors for a second. Consider engineered woods with a lighter, more natural finish. Our experts say that white, gray, and washed-wood finishes are making a comeback. Think about bleached, limed, or fumed woods with matte finishes or sealed-only floors. Don’t count out engineered products. They aren’t necessarily cheaper, but you can achieve a more exotic look. You might also consider porcelain tiles. Porcelanosa’s Parker line boasts a “wood” look. Stone floors are also showing up in unexpected places, like master bedrooms. 
Fun Fact: To get the look of steel windows, your contractor can match wood on the inside of the window to the color of the outside of the window. Steel versus wood could be a $50,000 difference in price!

CLEAN LINES, MORE OPEN SPACES

 

Open floor plans—like this one from Sharif & Munir—are happening even in traditional homes.
Our experts say that, on the whole, new construction is going more contemporary. This doesn’t mean that everyone is moving into glorious, Rachofsky-like glass houses. But on the whole, houses have cleaner lines with less focus on turrets and more use of Austin stone and standing-seam roofs. Europhiles, relax. The Mediterranean isn’t going anywhere—this is Italy Dallas, after all.
Even those who choose to stay with more traditional exteriors are going with modern, open concepts on the inside. That means fewer hallways and tiny, wasted rooms. Open floor plans afford more useable space — the kitchen that opens to the den and possibly dining areas. An abundance of glass and lift-and-slide doors, designed to open and disappear, bring the outdoors in. Again, efficiency is key. Homeowners are better understanding that 100 percent of their spaces should be completely usable.


Powder rooms are the perfect places to try out that bold wallpaper that you’re too afraid to try anyplace else. Black Bathroom: Stephen Karlisch; White bathroom: Aimee Herring
TAKE SOME RISKS

Even the most risk-averse person should have some fun when building their dream home. Maybe you’re not ready to wallpaper all the ceilings. Fine. But get on board with the glass and metal trends and employ both on your staircase. In fact, why not create a fabulous, floating staircase? Too contemporary? Consider patterned woods, intricate wood designs, or an iron-and-steel combination. (On a side note, you might only need to do one staircase. It seems fewer new homes have two sets of stairs because they take up so much square footage.)


“Pick and choose your moments to make a statement. Not everything can be your statement piece.”
CHRISTINE DANUSER, TATUM BROWN CUSTOM HOMES
The powder bath is also a great place to try a bold wallpaper, daring paint color, or outrageous tile and hardware. There’s nothing better than stepping into an unexpected and divine powder bath. But what if you hate it? That’s a drag, but it’s not the end of the world. “It’s such a small space, so it’s not significant to change it. That’s why it’s a good place to take chances,” Michael Munir says.
FORMAL REFORMED

There has been a lot of talk about how the formal living and dining rooms have been eradicated from new homes, but that’s simply not true. The rooms still exist; they function differently. The formal living room is now more of a “parlor” or an “away room,” as in, “I have to get away from the televisions that seem to have shown up in every flipping room, including outdoor spaces, in this house.” Many people choose to make it multi-functional — it could be a library and a bar area. It could open to the patio and be more of a party room. The point is, it doesn’t disappear from the floor plan. It just becomes something that you’ll actually use for more than fancy-but-uncomfortable furniture storage.

Likewise, the designated dining room still exists, but it’s more open and casual. It could be the serving space for even more casual parties. Add bookcases, and, it, too could become a library. 

Photography by Jill Broussard
KITCHEN CONVERSATION

We’ve all heard it: Kitchens (and baths) sell homes. Kitchens are the heart of the home. Grandma’s kitchen: Tasters welcome. We get it! Kitchens are important. But they’re also expensive. Jennifer Fordham of Poggenpohl Dallas says she tries to educate her clients from the beginning about what things cost and parse their needs. “I have to tell them that they don’t need drawers in every single inch of the kitchen,” she says. “You have to think about the odd-shaped things that won’t fit in a drawer.” She also says ventilation is key—folks come in the showroom and ask if there’s any way around having it at all. “They think it’s ugly, but you need it, if only to pass code,” she says with a laugh.


“I think people love options other than stainless — painted appliances work in some cases. We do a lot of integrated appliances in millwork, and we do a fair amount of painted ranges now.”
KURT BIELAWSKI, MORE DESIGN + BUILD
We’ve come to expect stainless steel and granite in high-end kitchens, but maybe it’s time to expand your horizons. “Granite used to be a premium, but now it’s everywhere,” Michael Munir says. “Most apartments have granite now.” Consider engineered stone and other countertop options. 
As for stainless steel, it’s still a thing. But like granite, it’s pretty standard stuff. You might want to take a chance on some of the new designs that Miele is producing — basically glassed appliances in all black, white, or chocolate. Think how fantastic they’ll look with the tasteful Ann Sacks tile and Waterworks plumbing fixtures you’ve so carefully chosen. 

For cabinets, think about some of the lighter woods or more natural-colored walnuts, or go bold with some matte lacquers. Fordham says white kitchens are coming back, too.

No matter your tastes, we can all agree that the two most important items in your kitchen will be a Hoshizaki ice maker and the Miele Whole Bean/Ground Coffee System. Sonic ice and caffeine always make everything better.


DON'T MAKE THESE ROOKIE MISTAKES
OUR 2013 BEST BUILDERS IN DALLAS SHARE INSIGHTS ON WHAT TO AVOID.
Stop shopping online. Try to use builders’ vendors—they have arranged for best pricing. your attempts to piece together vendors might add up more than you think.  

Consider multiple uses for rooms instead of an abundance of specialty rooms. Music rooms are so 2000-and-late if you’re not actually a musician. 

Your family is great. But don’t let the opinions of family and friends be the final word on your dream house. 

Don’t skimp on that pocket office off the kitchen. You will use it all the time.

Don’t delay your selections. Using a designer will help when it comes to navigating the many choices.

Don’t avoid the value-engineering process. It results in a smarter and more cost-effective design.

Don’t get impatient. The last 10 percent of the build requires patience. Focus on the positives. Don’t get hyper critical before the whole installation is complete. Enjoy the process.