Home Trends for the New Year

Home Trends for the New Year
Omaha Magazine (January/February 2011)
By Wendy Townley

With the arrival of a new year comes resolutions to make personal and professional changes. New calendars begin with the promise of upcoming events. Closets are purged and cabinets are cleaned. And let’s not skim over the eternally popular mantra of I Will Get In Shape This Year.

While changes are aplenty every January, one transformation many homeowners lean toward is their spaces. Once the last holiday ornaments are stashed away for another 10 months, what remains is a clean slate that’s often due for an at-home makeover.

A number of industries are seeing new home trends for the new year. One of the main reasons: Americans still continue the “nesting” trend, and find value in investing dollars – both large and small – back into the places they call home.

“People have decided that if they are going to stay in their homes, they want to enjoy them,” said Barb Ganey of Kitchens and Baths by Briggs. “And that usually means updating one room at a time.”

The bathroom – one of the home’s most luxurious sanctuaries – is witness to several trends for 2011 that improve the overall look and feel of this very necessary space. Ganey says that while brushed nickel, oil-rubbed bronze and chrome remain dominant finishes for faucets, warm finishes are making a return. Warm finishes can range from brushed bronze, brushed gold and even polished gold.

“These finishes tie into the concept that faucets can be considered bathroom jewelry,” Ganey explains. “The faucets and towel bars have even become strong decorating accents.”

For homeowners who want a renovated bathroom on a budget, start first with the faucets.

Another relatively easy way to give any room a facelift is through a little elbow grease and a fresh coat (or two) of paint. Sandy Agar-Studelska of Diamond Vogel Paint and Decorating (formerly Tretiak’s) says today’s homeowners look for longevity in paint color. While the phrase “trendy” doesn’t always pass their lips, homeowners want tried-and-true classic colors that have been updated.

“Think wide stripes, damasks and paisleys,” Agar-Studelska says. “And while we are seeing colors brightening in intensity, soft muted colors and neutrals are being used most in our local markets.”

Agar-Studelska adds that those neutrals are gray and warmer hues, while colors that occur naturally in nature are also a new, stronger focus.

“Colors like blues from the sea and the sky, and greens, orange/red and purples from trees and plants are soothing and peaceful,” Agar-Studelska says.

Natural hues are even finding their way to the floors. Today’s homeowners are choosing hardwoods in Birch, Hickory, Maple and even Acacia, says Darren McKean of McKean’s Floor to Ceiling.

Some flooring designs are incorporating tile, which has also found its way to walls with colorful glass accents for added impact, McKean adds.

“Consumers are updating their existing homes instead of building new homes,” McKean says. “New countertops, cabinets, flooring, plumbing fixtures and appliances seem to be where today’s families are spending their money. The homeowners want an updated home that makes them feel good.”

Adam Patrick of Ferguson Enterprises says steam is the buzz word for 2011. Today’s appliances incorporate steam as a highly sanitary cleansing process, often used to loosen baked-on soils in dishwashers and ovens; lift soils from clothing in the washer; and refresh and de-wrinkle apparel in the dryer.

When it comes to cooking, steam is a healthy alternative to microwaving and boiling, as it helps to retain the vitamins and nutrients in vegetables, Patrick explains.

“Any food that can benefit from moisture-based cooking sources does very well in steam ovens and steamers built into the countertop,” Patrick says.

Energy is also very important to today’s families, Patrick adds, and the appliance industry has responded by developing green products in most every category of kitchen appliance.

Fireplaces have received a makeover, explains Kim Cahoy of Consolidated Kitchens and Fireplaces. More traditional designs are today being replaced with fireplace units that are more contemporary and linear, with stones or crystals in place of traditional log sets often found in fireplaces.

With kitchen cabinetry, Cahoy says homeowners want functionality and the maximization of usable space. Features such as rollout trays, trash bin pullouts, spice racks and even recycling centers are gaining popularity in today’s kitchen remodel projects.

“Consumers want more bang for their buck, and increased organization and functionality can help families run their household more efficiently,” Cahoy adds.

Interior designers agree that when a room’s design elements are in order, the most important component – lighting, which spotlights the décor – is often overlooked. Denise Lane of Echo Lighting Design Gallery says homeowners are opting for more streamlined lighting with straighter, cleaner lines.

“These designs give the look of being more timeless,” Lane explains.

Satin nickel remains popular in light fixtures, but painted finishes in warmer hues are also gaining traction, as are chrome, older bronze and antique pewter.

And the chandelier – featuring more casual and contemporary styles – is moving out of the foyer and dining room, and into bathrooms, bedrooms and even oversized closets, Lane says.

Engineered granite countertops, such as those offered by Granite Transformations, are a popular trend for homeowners seeking a facelift in their kitchens, bathrooms and even basement recreation areas.

Nicole Neesen of Granite Transformations says engineered granite countertops – those made with 95 percent natural products and 5 percent polymers – give homeowners an opportunity to be more adventurous.

Today’s countertops are offered in a variety of colors, including golds and browns, but also in grays and blacks, which are making a comeback.

Countertops installed over existing surfaces are kinder on the home and the environment, Neesen says.

“And there’s less of a mess,” Neesen adds. “Innovation and technology allow people to remodel their homes with more ease.”

New countertops aren’t just being installed in bathrooms, however. Neesen says homeowners are opting for finer surfaces in their home offices, laundry rooms and even around existing fireplaces.