With the recovery of the economy, homeowners are now choosing to invest in upgrading or renewing their homes, with a particular emphasis on kitchen, bath and outdoor living spaces. According to a recent Hanley Wood Survey, remodeling sales were up 10 percent, and about half of the surveyed remodelers agreed that 2014 will see continued, steady growth. This “renaissance” reveals a wide range of new home and building products trends, some aspirational, others practical and down to earth.

Green Construction, Aging-In-Place Design and Universal Design
Once considered the latest trends in residential remodeling and new construction — green construction, aging-in-place and universal design are no longer advanced thinking. Rather, these concepts are now firmly rooted in conventional wisdom. Advancement is due to increased consumer demand and better-educated, more conscientious home and building professionals, making green construction, aging-in-place and universal design now foundational architectural principles that few building projects ignore.

Craig Webb, editor-in-chief of Remodeling Magazine, said, “Manufacturers and builders are constantly getting greener and greener in the way they source materials and put up homes.”  As a result, “Energy efficiency is becoming an assumption, not an add-on.”  Recent estimates indicate that annual expenditures on green home building in the United States are approximately $36 billion, and that number is expected to double by 2016. New trends continue to develop within these disciplines at a rapid pace, let’s consider a few.

Green Construction Trends: With an emphasis on home energy efficiency and sustainability, green construction trends range from home performance testing to sustainability in materials, manufacturing and production.

  • Home Performance Testing: A very popular trend in residential remodeling and new home construction, home performance testing is now widely employed to not only improve building performance and reduce energy consumption, but also to establish a home energy rating. Due to the cost of equipment and the need for specialized knowledge in the field, performance testing is most frequently performed by a credentialed expert.
  • Sustainability:  As the popularity of green building products has grown across the industry, manufacturers have made sweeping changes in order to meet today’s sustainability standards.  When WoodTrac, a subsidiary of Sauder Woodworking, received Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Chain-of-Custody Certification for its WoodTrac Ceiling Systems, vice-president of engineering Dan Sauder said, “At WoodTrac, we are committed to sustainable solutions in every aspect of our operations, and we are proud to receive this certification as it further validates our company’s commitment to responsible environmental stewardship.”
  • Energy Star certification: Widespread across the home and building products industry, Energy Star certified remodeling products save money, resources and energy. www.energystar.gov says, “Installing ENERGY STAR qualified windows, doors, and skylights shrinks energy bills and carbon footprints by about 7-15 percent, compared to non-qualified products.” As an example, Masonite International Corporation, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of interior, exterior and patio doors for residential applications, provides energy and cost savings to homeowners who are performing energy efficient home improvements by offering multiple Energy Star certified fiberglass and steel entry doors.

Aging-in-Place and Universal Design Trends: Aging in place and universal design strategies are now far more widespread than a decade ago, providing increased comfort and security at home for aging homeowners who desire to remain living independently. Popular universal design features found in today’s home remodeling projects include lever door handles, rocker light switches, non-slip surfaces, and low threshold entry doors.

  • Aging-in-place home automation systems and products, also known as assistive domotics, are now prevalent. Cutting edge security systems, lighting controls, home entertainment systems, Internet enabled devices, door opening/closing controls, and energy and appliance monitors are becoming standard fare in many homes. Home automation modifications for advanced healthcare issues may include monitoring or safety devices such as simple alerts, lighting and motion sensors, environmental monitors, video cameras, programmed timers and emergency support systems.
  • Bathroom product trends for the aging-in-place population feature thermostatic valves, hand-held shower sprays, walk-in showers and temperature alert LED bath faucets. The Altmans Products Aqueduct LED bath faucet generates its own power, which in turn, stimulates the LED to sense and signal water temperature offering a visual alert when the temperature is hot. The Aqueduct bathroom faucet is WaterSense certified, offering water at 1.5 gallons per minute (gpm).

Outdoor Living Trends: Creating permanent “indoor-like” living spaces with furniture will continue to be big in 2014. Designers and homeowners want to create the perfect setting that’s warm and inviting, just like their home’s interior.

  • The research and development departments in many a competitive building product company is looking at new ways to incorporate lighting into their products, such as the Feeney Inc. LED Rail Light Kits for DesignRail®. Providing enhanced ambiance in the outdoor living environment and better lighting at stairs and railings, the new Feeney LED Rail Light Kit utilizes the latest LED technology. The warm white LED light is designed to recess into the underside of the top and bottom rails of DesignRail® railing systems, while the snap-on frosted lens evenly diffuses light over outdoor porch and deck areas.
  • New color finishes from Danver complement the fabric of leisure furniture, supporting the latest industry trend of bringing indoor themes outside. The wood grain and painted finish colors are influenced by nature to best blend with the landscaping around the outdoor living environment. Brown Jordan’s new hardware line, American Made Bronze Handles, is strong, sturdy and weatherproof. The hardware line is offered in unique shapes portraying twigs, logs and bamboo shoots, and features patina and bronze finishes. As outdoor living trends thrive on bringing the “inside out”, the American-Made Bronze Handle line is inspired by colors and styles from popular interior fashions while complementary to the outdoor living environment.
  • The new Walpole Outdoors PVC Pergola exemplifies the trend of using alternative materials for traditional applications. PVC provides superior durability and resistance to the elements with the ability to color match to the homeowner’s unique specifications. And to “top” things off, Walpole demonstrated a remote-controlled motorized, retractable ceiling screen, designed to deliver even further control over the elements.

Contemporary Kitchen Trends: Kitchen trends are moving from transitional to what may be called modern, minimalist or contemporary, featuring white or gray cabinetry, pendant lighting, natural stone and quartz or green/sustainable counters, tile and glossy finishes. Kitchens today are designed to be open to adjacent family spaces, with an island and counter seating, sporting light, “soft and neutral” colors and materials.

  • Appliances are now discreetly tucked into the wall to enhance sleek, linear styling, or boldly displayed in all of their retro or vintage glory. For many residential remodelers desiring a bright and bold color kitchen, Elmira’s Northstar Refrigerators are fashionable, featuring nine popular colors and a custom color option. The Northstar models have a vintage look on the outside, but all of the latest technology inside.
  • With an outstanding collection of the latest in free standing and built-in appliance products, Blomberg’s four-door, French door refrigerator features a Flexi Zone which allows for flexible temperature control from -10°F to +50°F. Also, Blomberg’s exclusive Blue Light Technology extends the freshness of fruits and vegetables by continuing the photosynthesis process while in the fridge.

Bathroom Trends:  Second in popularity to the kitchen for residential remodelers, today’s bathrooms feature spacious walk-in showers with multiple shower heads, glass tiles, double sink vanities, and jetted free-standing bathtubs. For materials and hues, light and bright spaces will feature glass tiles and cool, neutral colors such as subtle gray, soft blue and off-white.

  • The new interior design trend in bathroom design is to position the vanity as the “anchor” that sets the stage for the style, texture, scale, and even color in the bathroom, as exemplified by the bold new vanity collections from Ronbow, based in Newark, CA. With bold color choices and interchangeable sinks, Ronbow vanities, designed by world premier designers, raise the bar on vanity and bath furniture styling.

Finally, faucet design just keeps getting more and more beautiful – witness this faucet from the Ametis line by Graff. The Ametis line is the newest collection by Graff, designed by Davide Oppizzi.

About Kleber & Associates
Kleber & Associates is an Atlanta-based integrated marketing communications agency serving the home and building products industry for 27 years. Visit the Kleber & Associates website for the latest news and information about marketing for home and building products for consumers, architects, builders, remodelers, designers and manufacturers. Through our marketing, advertising, public relations and digital marketing expertise — we build better brands that build a better home.

Elizabeth Greenewald, Assoc AIA, CAPS is a public relations account executive at Kleber & Associates with a background in architecture and aging-in-place home modifications. She combines her knowledge of home and building products with her digital marketing and public relations expertise to represent the K&A brand.