The 2015 real estate market in Dallas-Fort Worth went down in the books as the best in three decades, and year-end housing construction numbers placed Dallas as one of the country’s top building markets.
North Texas is headquarters to some enormously talented (and busy!) builders. We’ve asked the best and brightest among them to tell us their predictions for 2016 homebuilding trends. They’ve also given us some gorgeous photos that illustrate how those trends are showing up in their work. You won’t want to miss this!
“Rustic” is the biggest buzzword of 2016, with our homebuilders saying clients want old and new elements mixed together. This look is also called “barnitecture,” and reclaimed timber is its number one element, showing up in doors, flooring, beams, accent walls, and other places.
Sliding doors are hugely popular within barnitecture, and they can range from repurposed wood pieces taken from actual barns, to more modern interpretations made of glass and metal.
“This style mixes contemporary elements with barn-like structures—we just did a house where we brought in reclaimed timber that had been found at the bottom of a riverbed, and it was mixed with contemporary German cabinetry,” said Mark Danuser, President and Owner of Tatum Brown Custom Homes. “They wanted their space to feel personalized, and this hardwood flooring had a real story. This has become very popular.”
2. TRADITIONAL STYLE WITH CLEANER LINES
The emergence of “soft contemporary” as a major trend the last few years has bled into other styles. Homebuilders report the ever-popular traditional house is now being requested with cleaner lines, fewer materials, and less embellishment.
How will this show up? On staircases, you might find unadorned iron balusters instead of decorative newel posts made of wood. Fireplace mantels are more likely to have a smaller, simpler profile, instead of ornate carvings. Cabinets and built-ins are lighter in color, with smaller pulls and handles.
“Most new construction is trending towards simpler design…large open spaces, but still chic and tastefully done,” said Saad Chehabi, President and CEO, S&R Development. “[We’re seeing] white walls and trim; high-end floor-to-ceiling steel windows; and contemporary bathrooms with oversize windows, and exceptional finishes, cabinet design, and hardware.”
It’s an extremely popular style in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“I find that 90 percent of my clients are trying to achieve this look,” said Robert Elliott, Owner of Robert Elliott Custom Homes. “I have been working with trim supply companies over the past couple years to create custom molds on door trim and crown moldings that can help my clients achieve this goal.”
People are taking classical architecture and cleaning it up a little, as well.
“Call it Texas or Hill Country Modern, but I have to believe the next design trend will be a cross between the clean lines of modern design and the textures of the Old World-style homes,” said Tom Greico, Designer and Builder, Greico Modern Homes.
3. SOLAR ENERGY
Last year, our homebuilders talked about the popularity of eco-friendly elements among their clients. That trend continues, with demand for foam spray insulation, tankless water heaters, and air conditioning units with a higher seasonal energy efficiency rating (SEER-16 and up), as well as variable speeds. Our builders say they employ other solutions, as well.
“We believe green architecture has as much to do with correct orientation and design as it does with local sourcing of material,” said Greico. “Using the home design to provide shaded courtyards and cross ventilation throughout the home helps cut the need for air conditioning in the more temperate months, for example.”
But we’ve got a big, bright sun shining, on average, 232 days a year in North Texas. Solar energy is a natural fit.
“We’ve put solar panels on three or four of the last homes we’ve done, especially the larger homes,” said Danuser. “You’ve got 20 TVs and computers, heavy duty washers and dryers—you can really eat up power in these homes, and people are worried about be as energy efficient as possible. Because of that, solar energy has gained momentum.”
Many builders are working with solar in mind, even if it’s not being installed immediately.
“The homes we build, with their flat roofs, [are] uniquely adaptable to solar panels, so we’ve been pre-wiring our houses in anticipation,” said Greico.
4. DRAMATIC ENTRYWAYS
The entry to a home should be inviting and give one a sense of arrival. Some Dallas-area homebuilders say 2016 will be a year of increased interest in dramatic entryways. People want to offer a Texas-sized welcome to their home through high-end flooring, dazzling light fixtures, and memorable architectural elements. Think marble tile inlaid with wood; sparkly, oversized chandeliers; and arching doorways with steel-and-glass front doors.
Even in properties with a smaller footprint, homeowners are requesting entryways that have luxe materials—this is a place where expensive pieces can have a big impact.
5. STEEL WINDOWS AND DOORS
The dramatic entryways we mentioned above are often being created with steel-and-glass doors and windows, and they are one of the bigger trends gaining momentum in 2016.
“It’s very streamlined, simple, and elegant and it fits in every genre of home—we had a Mediterranean home and even though the finishes were more traditional, the steel windows and doors just fit,” said Danuser. “Everyone wants floor-to-ceiling windows that let lots of light into the home, whether it’s a traditional or contemporary.”
Steel windows and doors create a distinctive look with narrow sight lines and a sophisticated aesthetic. The strength, durability, and versatility of steel frames make them not only a unique component, but a lasting one, as well.
“We have been incorporating them into designs for several years now,” Elliott said. “It is a great way to take a traditional home and make it feel very current—we are a big fan of incorporating some steel windows and doors to complement the wood windows we use, as we have very few projects that can afford to use steel everywhere.”
6. OPEN CONCEPT FLOORPLANS
Open concept floorplans are nothing new, but this year, homebuilders say it’s on the “must have” list of more people than ever.
“We are still seeing folks wanting open concept plans with large kitchen islands and all of our plans have a combined living room and kitchen, typically running the full length of the rear of the home,” said Jeff Dworkin, President of JLD Custom Homes. “We are also opening up the kitchens with eat-on islands and removing bar height countertops.”
Homebuilders report demand for flexible floorplans with sight lines from the kitchen to other common areas, like living and dining rooms.
“We like to design the path through the home as a progression of spaces and volumes that culminate in the great room,” said Greico. “We are finding that a lot of our clients value a formal eating space that is open to, but not necessarily in, the great room. These formal dining rooms are more like alcoves off the main axis or great room, often with a lower ceiling to delineate the space.”
7. SMARTPHONE HOME AUTOMATION
Last year’s biggest homebuilding trend, as reported by our builders, was home automation, showing up across the board in home design requests. Buyers wanted to be able to control the thermostat, lighting, pool equipment, security systems, surveillance cameras, appliances, garage doors, and more.
That goes further in 2016, with people wanting full control of their homes through smartphone apps, said Les Owens, President of LRO Residential.
“We are working with AV platforms such as Lutron and Control4 that allow clients to control many aspects of their home, such as security, HVAC, security cameras both inside and outside, and window coverings,” Owens said. “Of course, we also integrate things such as driveway gates and garage doors that will tell you when the door was left open [that work through apps]. We just finished a three-story home with eight TVs [and] remotes are just not needed as everything to control all AV is on the owners’ smartphones.”
The trend toward big steel windows we mentioned earlier has an effect on this the home automation trend—when homeowners want some privacy, they can control their automated shades with smartphone apps. Lutron is one company that offers this product.
“Everything has an app, even digital locks on the house, and a big question we get all the time is the ability to control the thermostat, like Lennox AC and Nest,” Danuser said. “Home automation is huge, and it gets bigger every year. Once you get used to doing that, you can’t go back.”
8. COMFORTABLE YEAR-ROUND OUTDOOR LIVING AREAS
When clients choose floor-to-ceiling steel windows, or movable glass walls, the exterior spaces flow seamlessly into the interior ones.
“There are quite a few months in Dallas you can open the glass doors and invite the outdoors in for entertaining or a casual morning around the house,” said Greico. “We spend so much money to make our yards beautiful—it seems a shame to sequester them out of view.”
9. TRANSITIONAL INTERIORS
“Transitional” is a confusing phrase because it is used in so many ways. When our homebuilders say transitional interiors are a major trend for this year, they mean a style that is a harmonious fusion of traditional and more contemporary architecture, finishes, materials, furniture, and décor.
“It is where where are in the Dallas area and it is here to stay for a very long time,” Elliott said. “It allows people that have historically been traditional to have a little bit of fun and experiment with some modern/contemporary finishes. Life is intended to be fun, therefore if you are going to spend the majority of your life in your home, you should make it fun to build as well as fun live in.”
Transitional colors are generally light and neutral, and architectural lines are simple. This creates a great backdrop for the balancing act of transitional style, which is a marriage of the comfort and richness of traditional design with the clean aesthetic of contemporary style. A successful transitional home feels tailored and fresh.
10. BATHTUBS IN CENTER STAGE
The final 2016 homebuilding trend we’ve discovered is the bathtub as a design element for master suites. Our homebuilders report big interest in elegant freestanding tubs, placed strategically in the bathroom for maximum “wow” factor. In homes with barnitecture or transitional style, a clawfoot tub is often on the wish list.
Popular luxury brands for freestanding bathtubs include Victoria + Albert, Kohler, Venzi, Kardiel, and AKDY.
What are your top predictions for homebuilding trends in 2016? Leave us a comment!