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Modern Designs for Modern Families

Chances are, if you are about to purchase a home, you have for the most part been viewing variations on the same traditional interior layout that has been used throughout the last half century. Unless you are buying or designing a custom home, you are most likely looking at a plan designed for the average American nuclear family: a living room, dining room, den, kitchen, 2-3 baths, one master bedroom and 2-3 additional bedrooms. This basic plan has served families well for many generations, but as we move solidly into the 21st century, these designs are being called into question by contemporary home builders.

American families have become more diverse and lifestyles have changed. People are living longer, having fewer or no children and an increasing number of men and women are choosing to remain single. With these shifts in lifestyle and concomitant needs comes a necessary rethinking of traditional building plans. The following trends in home designed presented on BuilderOnline.com both illustrate and reflect the changing lives of families all over the U.S.

The concept of two master suites is growing and it really is a simple way to add comfort and luxury to even the most modest home. It can be wonderfully practical for in-laws or aging parents joining the household and a generous offering to guests visiting from out of town. It can also be a must-have for two adult friends or relatives choosing to share a home. View details and plan.

Second or third marriages usually come with additional children - either living with or frequently visiting the home. Oftentimes there can be a wide range of ages and this can pose a challenge when it comes to privacy, comfort and functionality. One fabulous home, just under 3,000 sq. ft, features a third-story loft space (essentially a modern, finished attic). This space can act as a sanctuary or work area for older children who may be job-seeking or studying for academic exams. Alternately it can become a remote play area for younger children, keeping noise and clutter contained to a separate, private space. It also features bedrooms in close proximity to the master bedroom for those smaller children needing a closer eye.View details and plan.

A beautiful, one-bedroom Craftsman home like the one featured on Builderonline.com celebrates the child-free lifestyle with expansive, open space, large kitchens for entertaining and rooms built with libraries, offices or sanctuaries in mind. There is a "flex" room for when an extra bedroom is needed, but this 1778 sq. ft. house is more about raising a glass than raising a family. View details and plan.

These thoughtful designs should be considered when buying or renovating a home not only as an accommodation for your specific needs, but as a wise investment. The need for bold, unique alternatives to the status quo is rising and this could also mean adding significant resale value to your home should you choose to move in the future.

Catching Up with the Latest Design Trends

While cutting-edge, luxury home design may seem quite irrelevant to the average homeowner, keeping up with the latest trends is actually a valuable tool in maintaining or increasing the value of one's current home regardless of the price range.

Just as those crazy, exaggerated fashion runway trends trickle down to the everyday consumer in a more subdued manner, so too do home trends set the standard for what will eventually become mainstream. Understanding these trends can help guide homeowners when it comes to basic repairs and renovations - keeping their home up-to-date, relevant and ultimately salable. And, if keeping your home for a lifetime is the plan, knowing the most up-to-date design and building trends can help increase the quality of everyday living by providing smart and often simple solutions to practical problems.

Boston real estate power duo Tom Matthews and Joanne Taranto share some of what they see happening in the world of home design and building on TomandJoanneteam.com and the range of ideas is rather impressive. From simple color schemes to high-tech advances, the following trends are sure to spark the imagination and offer-up some practical home design solutions.

Color Palettes:
We still have a few months to wait for Colors of the Year from the folks at Pantone and Sherwin Williams, but 2015 showed the continuation of a long trend of vibrant color. Sherwin Williams unveiled a stunning coral and Pantone named Marsala - a deep, rich coral brown as their choice of the year. If you're willing to lay out $750 for Pantone's color planner for 2016, you can get a preview of what's to come, but for the rest of us we will have to sit and wait.

Practical Solutions:
"Specialized storage" is an interior design trend to look for in the coming years. Losing ground are stuffed attics, basements and closets in favor of storage space that is built-in and in closer proximity to the actual living space where items can be more easily accessed. Mudroom bins for pet food and supplies are particularly hot and underseat storage may soon be standard fare.

High-tech Trends:
Smarthomes are dramatically increasing in popularity as the technology becomes more accessible. Features such as keyless entry, remote security, lighting on demand and temperature control are all finding their way into the average home by way of smartphone apps. Even technophobes are coming to understand the ways in which many of these trends can save time and money and increase quality of life. And, since wireless technology makes for easy retrofitting, many of these features are more affordable than ever before.

3D printing is perhaps the most new and enigmatic building trend out there, but it actually has very practical applications. It is best explained by imagining your home computer printer on a massive scale. And, instead of releasing ink onto paper, 3D printers release materials such as plastic or molten metals into whatever shape they were programmed to create. This process will enable builders to fabricate durable building materials on site with more precision, less waste and eventually at a lower cost.

The one trend for all homeowners to look out for, is solar conversion. On the fast track in development are solar shingles and solar glass windows - features that experts say will eventually become standard offerings. By converting solar energy into usable power in the home, these innovations have wide appeal not only to environmentally conscious homeowners, but to folks looking to save money in energy costs and see a higher return on their investments.

So, the next time you come across an article illustrating cutting-edge, luxury trends that appear to have no bearing on decisions you make for your home - take the time to check them out. As far-fetched or complicated as some may seem, most are grounded in practical solutions for better, more simple living.

Dominant Design Trends for 2015 Honored

In June, the Gold Nugget Awards - the nations largest and most prestigious awards in the areas of design, planning and development - held its 52nd annual gala bash in San Diego, California. Builders, Architects and Land Planners from around the globe were recognized for their exceptional concepts, unique visions and flawless execution of design and development.

The folks that comprise the recognizing body of the Gold Nugget awards emphasize not only aesthetic talent and technical skill, but place high value on the ways in which these home and land designs positively impact our environment, our communities and ourselves.

This year, the awards within the U.S. leaned heavily toward the overall themes of efficiency, sustainability, ambiance and understated elegance. While our European counterparts favored opulence, the U.S. - especially in the west - was feeling a little more zen. With trends that bring outdoor spaces - and the transitional space between indoor and outdoor - into the forefront, it is clear that many Americans are embracing (arguably craving) the natural world like never before. Repurposed materials are becoming commonplace and energy efficiency and sustainability, almost a market mandate.

According to Builderonline.com - Gold Nugget's chief sponsor - the prominent trends of 2015 are:

Integrated, open designs, unexpected materials, sophisticated lighting and striking, thoughtful details.

Emphasizing and formalizing outdoor space while minimizing indoor space. Seamless, innovative transition areas like collapsible, floor-to-ceiling doors were the types of "space shifting" designs that were given great praise.

Along a more practical vein, the trend of creating multi-functional spaces was recognized as a forward-thinking approach to not only solving a space crunch, but to help move folks away from designating spaces in the home that go largely unused. Outfitting a formal dining room to double as a home office solves the problem of working at the kitchen table or in the basement, but also puts to use a space that is perhaps only inhabited three or four times per year.

Minimalism: Clean lines and single focal points within rooms (a bathtub, for example) were the indoor trends that caught the attention of the judges.

Sustainability. It appears these days that no matter how innovative or captivating a home or land design may be, it is considered clumsy and irresponsible if not executed in an earth-friendly, efficient and sustainable way. That's very good news for the environment, but also good news for the homeowner. Soon will be gone, the days of energy-gouging appliances, inefficient heating/cooling systems and slipshod construction.

A wonderful slideshow of the winners is up for viewing on builderonline.com and a list of all the winners in all categories (single/multi-family, custom, mixed-use and commercial), can be found directly on the .

Is purple your pleasure?

New Interior Design App

CSL may be an England-based sofa specialist, but don't let that fool you. Those Brits still know a thing or two about interior design.

To prove it, CSL has recently released the Colour My Room app, a free online and phone app that let's shoppers upload an image of their room and get instant advice on a sofa to go along with the room's color scheme.

All right, so it's an obvious sales app, but even consumers who aren't inclined to buy from CSL can still take the free advice and use it to find something similar from a store closer by.

The app uses four different color palettes in the same way that a professional interior designer would, analyzing the photo of the room and coming up with suggestions for complementing colors and sofa styles to fit the room.

Would you use the Colour My Room app even if you didn't want to buy a CSL sofa?

Geoffrey Baer, host of the new show.

10 Buildings That Changed America

A new PBS TV special produced by WTTW Chicago will explore the "10 Buildings that Changed America." The show will air in 2013 and will feature 10 buildings that have changed the way Americans work, live and play.

The 10 buildings that will be investigated over the course of the show include:

  • 1. Virginia State Capitol, Richmond, VA

  • 2. Trinity Church, Boston, MA

  • 3. Wainwright Building, St. Louis, MO

  • 4. Robie House, Chicago, IL

  • 5. Highland Park Ford Plant, Highland Park, MI

  • 6. Southdale Center Mall, Edina, MN

  • 7. Seagram Building , New York , NY

  • 8. Dulles International Airport, Chantilly, VA

  • 9. Vanna Venturi House, Chestnut Hill, PA

  • 10. Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, CA

  • For more information on the upcoming series, check out the show's website in development.

    Thinking about upgrading your home? Read this first!

    Book Release: Right-Sizing Your Home

    In her new book "Right-Sizing Your Home," author Gale Stevens puts our homeowning notion of "bigger is better" under the microscope, challenging readers to answer honestly when asked how much of their home they actually use. Central to Stevens' book is what she calls the "Art of 'RE'" -- reinvent, reclaim, redesign, rearrange, repurpose, recycle and reduce.

    Relocating is not an option. We are not, after all, hermit crabs.

    The basic idea? Find ways to more efficiently and effectively use the space you are in.

    I like the timing of this book, as it might inject some sense into homeowners and potential homebuyers at a time when the housing market is nursing itself back to health. Perhaps Realtors should hand this out as required reading lest we fall victim again to the consequences of living beyond our means (and needs).

    Star Trek DVD is OUT: Is your home prepared or OVER-prepared?

    We have blogged about Star Trek it in the past. Twice in fact. Once for a complete Star Trek remodel and then again when the Star Trek apartment sold in 2007. I am a fan of the series and I plan on buying the Star Trek DVD, but this Star Trek themed apartment was a bit over the top.

    You will not find my wife and I ever living in a Star Trek-themed abode, unless of course we are frozen until the 24th century. By then I'm sure everyone will be saying "Captain at the helm" when they sit down for breakfast at the kitchen island.

    Still, I am eager to watch the DVD in my home theater. Nothing will beat the sound of an oncoming Klingon Bird of Prey zooming across 5.1 speakers.

    Is your home theater up to the task?

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