What’s hot — and not — for your home in 2008
Want to sell your home in 2008 — or simply want to keep its décor fresh so that it doesn’t begin the slow slide toward avocado-toilet and lava-lamp oblivion? You’re in luck: We’ve asked several top experts who keep tabs on trends in home design, furnishings and remodeling to weigh in on what’s hot — and what’s decidedly not — in 2008.
Their opinion: The American house of 2008 will be smarter, greener and sleeker than before. But here’s the trick: Homeowners want a home that will work now — and 10 years from now.
“I feel that buyers (and sellers) are growing tired of ‘housing obsolescence,’” says Mark Nash, a Chicago-area Realtor who annually surveys nearly 900 real-estate agents across North America for his report, “What’s In, What’s Out with Homebuyers.” “With the price of housing still at high levels versus a decade ago, buyers are looking hard and wide for a home that works for them in their time-starved lifestyles. Savvy buyers have caught on that short-lived trends sell magazines (or cable TV shows), but not necessarily homes, because what was so ‘in’ can be so ‘out,’ in increasingly smaller cycles.”
Nash says luxe outdoor living spaces and sophisticated home-monitoring systems are among the trends that will be hot in 2008 and beyond. On their way out: concrete countertops, whirlpool tubs and stainless-steel appliances, he says. Here’s a rundown of what’s hot — and what’s not — for your home in 2008.
The destination bathroom
“I think the big shift is that people are really starting to nest in their bathrooms. It’s kind of like this personal refuge within the home,” Nash says.
These huge bathroom getaways tempt you to linger and are outfitted with everything from wine chillers and espresso machines to his-and-hers TVs, says Nash. “I asked one woman, ‘Do you have that much time?’ And she said, ‘I make the time.’”
“One trend that I think is pretty clear is that we are finally moving towards more tightly integrated systems in the home that do allow for greater automation of certain functions, whether that’s controlling temperature or lighting,” says Kurt Scherf, vice president and principal analyst of Parks Associates, a market research and consulting company that studies emerging consumer technologies.
What can you do with these systems? Turn lights on and off remotely. Turn down the heat without stepping inside your home. Open the electronic cat door for Mittens. Raise your electronic blinds.
This technology used to be available only for the very rich — think Bill Gates’ home — but now it’s “as close to plug-and-play as you can get,” says Scherf.
Already some electric utilities in the United States and abroad are toying with pilot programs in which they reach out and wirelessly adjust customers’ heating and cooling by a degree or two, Scherf says, to maximize broader energy use in their area.
“It’s very expensive to fully retrofit” a home with these monitoring systems, says Nash — about $20,000 to $25,000 — “but we’re seeing this included in a lot of new construction,” where it adds only perhaps $10,000 or $15,000 to the cost of the home. (Analyst Scherf says a retrofitted system — adding different faceplates to wall outlets and software to a home computer — can range in cost from $100 to $10,000, depending on the complexity a homeowner wants.) “The boomers’ kids are purchasing these retrofit products for their parents who are still living independently at home,” so they can monitor them and help them perform some tasks, Nash says.
The trend of bringing the indoors outdoors is accelerating dramatically, says Nash. “We’re a long way away from the redwood picnic table,” he says. For example, some homeowners are buying artwork that’s been treated to withstand the elements, or has a covering, so that it can be hung indoors or outdoors. Weather-resistant fabrics are now available that look much like indoor fabrics. People are even extending radiant-heat floors outside, under patio flagstones. “You’re just heating it enough to take the edge off, but it’s not enough to be a blast furnace,” Nash notes.
The goal is to extend those shoulder seasons in order to sit longer by the giant fireplaces that have become ever more popular, or to cook in the extensive outdoor kitchens that anchor many of these outdoor spaces.
“The whole idea of glamour is a little bit of a reaction to what is now still a very strong trend toward an appreciation of fabrics that have what you might call imperfections in them,” says Davis Remignanti, lead design consultant at Furniture.com. Remignanti refers to rougher fabrics that have sprung from the green movement, and to wood finishes with knots and grain.