Buying a home is a major expense. Building a home is an even greater expense. If your plans over the next year include buying or building your permanent residence, this article is for you.

The intention is to save your sanity and hard-earned dollars by pointing out what experts in the field of architecture believe will be the top value-add features to include in your home. Not only will these additions provide your family with comfort, recreation and enjoyment, but also maximize your profit should you up or downsize. Having a home with all the ‘bells and whistles’ desired by buyers will help your abode stand out against its competition even in a buyers’ market. Here are the current and projected trends to consider.

How we designate our personal space is a reflection of our daily lifestyles. Carryovers from recent years include chef-calibre kitchens as more and more homeowners take Cordon Bleu-calibre cooking classes. In the near future kitchens will become so much more. Once the site of the blazing hearth where families congregated for warmth, kitchens are now a gathering place for another kind of warmth- congeniality. Kitchens are again becoming the Home Epicenter. Not only are kitchen islands becoming bigger, even incorporating appliances such as sinks and stove tops, but also replace the need for a dining room altogether. To compensate, kitchen islands feature overhangs of granite, quartz, and even concrete to additionally serve as a dining table, a place to do homework, even a fully-functional home office as the latest refrigerators now provide internet access.

More Light, Lower Energy Costs

Indoor/Outdoor Living Spaces got their start in warmer climates, but today even in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest new builds often include walls of windows that accordian into the walls. This trend removes all distinction between being inside and being outside, in fact, many furniture designers create furniture lines that serve double duty in the living room or out on the lanai. In colder weather and so that everyone can appreciate sweeping vistas, floor to ceiling windows are making a come back. Unlike their predecessors, these new Larger Windows are highly energy efficient and their size creates a Passive Home that reduces the need to turn on the lights. Additionally these windows are doubly economical as the low-e glass obstructs summer’s heat and harmful UV rays.

Another design trend with no sign of quit in it is the Open Concept. If walls do not divide the indoors from the outdoors, then interior rooms do not require four walls, either. Spaces can be designated or implied by the furniture used to furnish them especially area rugs. Fitness has come home. Since the 1980s, Americans have become increasingly more health conscious. First gyms and fitness centers sprang up coast to coast. Next chains of vitamin and nutrition stores followed. Now as a nation, we are demanding Healthier Homes made from sustainable, recycled, or green materials that do not produce harmful off-gases. And what rooms are we putting in our newly fit, healthy houses? Spas and fitness centers.

Stay Fit Without Leaving Home

As with most trends, the paradigm shifts slowly. As mentioned above, at first homeowners flocked to gyms, and many corporations offered memberships as perks to encourage a healthier workforce. In recent decades the pace of our lives has accelerated so this concept has shifted away from crowded fitness centers to a desire for comfortable relaxation areas and workout spaces closer to home. This Fitness First trend gained traction when home gym equipment also became more sophisticated with some machines offering internet accessibility to classes held worldwide in real time. This not only bypasses the need for a personal trainer but brings its users the world of fitness to their doorstep and beyond. Today most new residences feature home gyms, steam rooms, hot tubs, and bathrooms worthy of a high-end spa.

For most of us, while luxurious, our homes are restricted usually to under 2,500 square feet. Most will feature three bedrooms and perhaps two full bathrooms. This does not leave additional space for crafting, sewing, painting, performing or listening to music, watching movies, or even hosting guests. The solution is flexible spaces. For example, dining rooms can easily convert to home offices and even guest rooms with the addition of Murphy beds that include a computer desk, bookcases, yet fold down into a large a bed as the room will accommodate. Today, an unfinished basement is a sin. These spaces easily convert to quality living spaces for relatively little cost and can greatly increase overall living space as well as add value. Be it a man cave, home theatre, kids play area, sauna room, whirlpool tub, an additional bedroom or home office, whatever. Spaces can be demarcated by walls or simply area rugs and lighting. (BTW: As a safety feature, most jurisdictions now require additional modes of egress, but these are easily installed.)

Whether it is the recurring trend to cocoon, increased prices at the pump, the dwindling value of the entertainment and disposable income dollar, or simply the desire to have everything one needs in close proximity, our residences are taking on more roles than simply as places to sleep, grab a quick bite, and maybe watch the news on TV. Our homes are becoming our personal universes. We probably have the internet to thank for that since we can be enclosed and yet part of a greater whole at any time for as long as we wish, and as long as our wifi cooperates! What were once unimaginable luxuries for working persons such as upscale kitchens, spa-like retreats, are becoming more and more commonplace. To conclude, personal comfort and satisfaction is no longer about how large one’s income and spending power is, but is trending toward how our homes reflect, support, and enhance the quality of our lives.