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Home Design Trends You’ll See in 2014

LED lights

Green living is not a new thing, but expect to see it really take hold in 2014 — particularly when it comes to lighting. Legislative changes means you’ll see a rise in LED lighting, like the lights used in this kitchen. Photo courtesy of Eli Mechlovitz.

The Department of Commerce announced that housing starts increased by 22.7 percent from October 2013 to November 2013, the largest increase since early 1990.

That means that more new homes will be available for purchase in 2014 and homebuyers will have their choice among a range of beautifully outfitted homes.

In 2014, homebuyers will see changes to the master suite and more efficient use of space, more green in their wallets and in their choice of home supplies and non-traditional flooring choices. Here are the details on these home trends you’ll see more of in 2014:

Master and Guest Suites

Kristin Brown, a Realtor for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Lexington, Mass., has noticed that her clients are looking for accessible, customized master suites. “While master suites have enjoyed popularity for a while now, times are changing as master bathrooms phase out bulky bathtubs and opt for sleek and accessible showers instead,” she says.

“Some master baths now incorporate the elements of a home spa, such as a sauna compartments,” Brown adds. “And master suites are on the move. As the nation’s population ages, accessibility is a new emphasis. Don’t be surprised to see more and more master suites on the main floor.”

The comforts of home became more important over the last decade, as our nation’s economy suffered and homeowners spent significantly less time out and about and more time in their homes. They scrutinized their living spaces more and the desire for beautiful, functional bedrooms and bathrooms has increased.

The same logic applies to guests suites. Fewer guests were booking hotels and instead opted to stay with family members or friends during travel.

Homebuilders have accommodated the trend by adding guest suites to new homes. Guest suites also serve another important purpose: “Guest suites and in-law space are in high demand as more families turn to multigenerational living to save adult kids money or take care of aging family members,” explains Brown.

Smart Space, Smart Home

Brown has also noticed that homebuyers increasingly prefer open floorplans with efficient use of space rather than small, compartmentalized rooms connected by hallways. Alongside this trend, appliances are becoming more streamlined. “The need to multi-task and de-clutter, thus giving more room to move around in, are primary reasons for this, says Mechlovitz. “Smaller appliances also allow those living in smaller homes to still enjoy all the convenience of a modern kitchen life without cramping their space.”

As the year goes on, also expect to see more products that make your home “smarter.” Items such as smart thermostats and home security services can be controlled with your smartphones to help homeowners reduce energy bills or increase security. Soon you’ll see more things such as appliances like washing machines and ovens that you can control with a smartphone or tablet. These home automation products and services have the simple goals of making managing a household much easier (and maybe even a little fun).

Clean and Green

According to Gary Wagner, CEO of Green Distribution, a sustainable building product manufacturer and distributor, green building will continue double-digit growth in part due to new regulations. For example, a tax credit available under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s ENERGY STAR program will mandate triple-glazed windows. Wagner predicts “in the coming years, triple-glazed windows will own 50 percent of the market share.”

As of Jan. 1, 2014, production of incandescent light bulbs will cease and, more than ever, developers and designers are turning to LED lighting as the main alternative. Eli Mechlovitz, a home design expert and owner of GlassTileStore.com, notes that built-in downlighting using LED bulbs throws enough light to illuminate a whole room and eliminates the need for bulky ceiling lights and lamps. Not only is it attractive, but “investing in LED lights spells out a lot more in savings,” he says.

Another change established as of Jan. 1, 2014, is a major boost in water heater standards that will make them much more efficient. “(The incandescent light bulb and water heater) measures alone will save billions of dollars and enormous amounts of pollution over earlier, more lax rules on energy efficiency for lighting and water heating,” says Jeff Wilson, HGTV host and author of The Greened House Effect.

Master suites are on the move. As the nation’s population ages, accessibility is a new emphasis. Don’t be surprised to see more and more master suites on the main floor. — Realtor Kristin Brown He sees a more interesting trend that’s been quietly simmering and will finally spill over in 2014 and beyond: Regulators are now seeing that energy efficiency measures are easier to implement and more effective than renewable energy, so programs rewarding energy efficiency in residential homes will be increasingly implemented. The explosive development of inexpensive home automation means that power companies can monitor energy use throughout the home and programs have already begun that provide rebates to homeowners using fewer amounts of energy, Wilson predicts. “What seemed like it would take decades to happen is now happening very rapidly.”

Such rewards — both practical and emotional — for homeowners living an eco-conscious lifestyle have spawned innovative product lines, such as “tile made of recycled materials that simulate wood and stone,” continues Wagner. “Also, the latest LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) specifications for certification give points for homebuilders that fully disclose the contents of all materials used in building a home. So, buyers are more likely to critique the ingredients in their wood floors, like formaldehyde,” he adds.

Flooring Evolution

David Brisco of Zerorez, an eco-friendly carpet cleaning service, has also seen new flooring options. “Corn is being spun into fibers that look and feel great, like traditional carpet,” he says. “The benefit is that when it’s time to pull up the carpet, it can be dissolved with a non-toxic solution instead of heading to the landfill like nylon carpet.”

Brisco is also seeing a continued move toward “renewables” like bamboo and cork. Bamboo is a fast-growing woody grass that can be harvested in as little as two years for use in flooring and construction. This short time period stands in stark contrast to hardwood trees, which grow to maturity over many decades and take just as long to replace. Brisco advises that because some manufacturers use formaldehyde to process bamboo, buyers should ask questions about the “eco-friendly” flooring material to make sure that it's free of toxic VOCs.
Sarah Ristorcelli is a freelance writer and editor for leading print and online publications. Formerly editor in chief of Garden Design, she has also written and edited for Cottage Living, Modern magazine and Orlando Arts. You can find her on Google+.
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