12 home design trends to watch in 2016

Although the International Builders' Show focused largely on millennial homebuyers, the event also featured several sessions addressing design trends for all levels of the housing market, from starter homes to luxury properties.

During one presentation, two judges from the Best in American Living Awards discussed the most common design trends featured in the award-winning properties. The BALAs recognize the nation's best residential design, including multifamily and single-family properties, interior design, remodeling and exteriors. 

Joe Digrado, a senior associate with the Danielian Associates architecture firm, and Richard Smith, of design-build firm RJ Associates, presented what they consider the most prominent trends that residential designers should keep an eye on this year.

1. Copper bathtubs

A freestanding copper bathtub
 

Copper bathtubs, especially freestanding tubs, were featured in several award-winning BALA designs. They can add a twist to a myriad of decors, from rustic to traditional designs, according to the presenters. "These freestanding bathtubs seem to be all the rage now. We're seeing them everywhere," Smith said.

2. Troughs and spouts

An outdoor kitchen with a trough-like water channel
 

Outdoor tables will see a revamp this year to include open, trough-like water paths that often lead to a waterfall off the edge of the table.

"Water features are obviously a big deal when you've got this space," Smith said. Digrado added, "Water features are great. I don't care where you are in the country. Just a little splash really helps out."

3. Waterfall islands

A waterfall island
 

Although this trend isn't new to the design world, waterfall islands "seem to be coming back," Smith said. Homebuyers continue to show demand for these kitchen additions, which can be made of granite, marble or wood. 

However, the presenters seemed less enthused about the reemergence of this design. "It's funny how trends work," Smith said. "Whether you like them or not, there they are."

4. Indoor-outdoor convergence

Interior connected to exterior area
 

New homes have shifted away from a distinct separation between the indoor and outdoor spaces, and now feature a more fluid and undefined separation between the two areas. These new designs often include floor-to-ceiling retractable glass walls and screens, stackable doors and new floor materials that contribute to a sense of converging the outdoors with the indoors, the presenters noted.

5. Board and batten used inside and out

Board and batten used on exterior
 

Although board and batten siding was once restricted to the exterior of a home, the material is now seeing an emergence in interior design as well.

"It's a very nice type of textural material," Digrado said. Smith added, "We saw it in a number of entries. We're starting to see this attempt to make things rustic yet contemporary."

6. Intricate stairways

An intricate staircase
 

The judges said they found that staircases were a more prominent design feature in BALA winners this year. They often feature glass accents, detailed tile designs, iron posts and other new design elements. Overall, designers are starting to move staircases closer to the front of a home to offer more of a unique design feature that can be the focal point of an entrance, Digrado noted.

7. Intimate outdoor spaces

An intimate outdoor space

Outdoor space was one of the most buzzed-about areas during IBS. Experts said outdoor spaces have become almost as important as the interior of the home, as owners look for a relaxing area where they can socialize and destress. This emerging trend often includes outdoor fireplaces or pits and a small seating area. 

"Outdoor space is really becoming an important part of the design of a home," Smith said. "It's as much living space as the indoor space, even in colder climates. People value being outside, and in a number of places, they were making slightly smaller homes because the outdoor space is much more prominent."

8. Modern industrial accents

A large room with modern industrial accents
 

The presenters said multifamily designs this year often included modern industrial accents, which feature "sleek" furniture and lighting, as well as bright colors amidst the metals in the design.

"If done right, [modern industrial accents] are very effective," Smith said. "It's been around for a while, but it’s pushing more into the residential now."

9. Barn doors

Barn doors featured in a kitchen
 

Barn doors have become increasingly popular in all rooms of the home, including kitchens, closets and bedrooms. However, Smith noted, "This is not your grandma's barn door. This is something that's really cool. They really are a unique feature in a house. They allow you to open a room you might want to close off."

Digrado said, "I've seen it used a lot in elegant rustic architecture. It's also very practical and functional. Even though many places want to make a home contemporary, it makes it more eclectic by throwing in these rustic elements."

10. Low-impact design

A design incorporating the environment
 

Award-winning designs often featured green and sustainable elements that were conscious of their surrounding environments. Homebuyers will continue to request designs that incorporate native species in landscaping, permeable pavement and other green features, according to the presenters. 

"They really tied the material and the walls to the landscaping," Digrado said. "It fits within the landscape and blends in well with the water features. It's their attempt to tie architecture in with the landscaping. It involves using reusable materials and really being conscious of the land."

11. Mid-century modern detailing

An exterior featuring mid-century modern detailing
 

Home designs, especially in Nevada and California, are starting to incorporate mid-century modern details again, according to the presenters. 

Digrado said, "It's a trend in production housing that is more contemporary. It hasn't worked its way into production homes until now. Mid-century detailing is very unusual. It needs to be done right."

Smith added, "What's old is new and what’s new is old. What we're seeing is maybe a contemporary version of a traditional style."

12. White with exotic or repurposed wood accents

A white room with wood accents
 

Residential designers should keep an eye on the trend of stark white interiors with accents of exotic or repurposed wood in ceilings, flooring and cabinetry, the judges said. 

"Everyone thinks of contemporary as very cold and hard, but just the introduction of wood to the white really warms it up a lot. It gives a nice contrast and warms the room up," Digrado said.


Top Image Credit: NAHB BALA