In an effort to look ahead to 2017 with enthusiasm, I decided to collect and share some ideas about what great new trends are on the horizon for residential architecture.

5. Increased use of organic and recycled materials

With more and more ways to re-use materials and reduce waste, look for many improved products in 2017 with an environmental focus.  Trends suggest that Owners are getting away from hard, high maintenance surfaces such as marble and opting for warmer, earthier tones. Cork is on the rise and not just in floor applications. Look for recycled cork and wood paneling on walls and ceilings. Concrete countertops (with integral sinks!) are becoming more common due tho their amazing durability and sleek, modern  look when polished.

Other recycled materials such as exterior pavers for driveways and walkways are  in demand, especially as many local county authorities are reducing the amount of “impervious area” that projects can claim on a a site.


4. Alternative Forms of Energy

As technology advances some of the more unique methods of heating and cooling homes are becoming more commonplace. This also affects costs and makes them more budget friendly for homeowners.  Using solar panels to heat hot water  or installing a geothermal system are just a few ways that homeowners are taking advantage of tax breaks and long term energy savings options.  These products and systems allow homeowners to embrace  a concept of  environmentally friendly living beyond just having Energy Star rated appliances.

modern solar panels

3. Casual Living, Clean lines

On the whole, I see both renovations and new construction going more contemporary.  Even in a traditional place like Washington DC!  That doesn’t mean everyone wants a glass box, but on the whole, houses have cleaner lines with less focus on traditional architectural elements (like crown moulding on steroids or turrets… yuck).  Even those who choose to stay with more traditional exteriors are going with modern, open concepts on the inside. That means fewer hallways and tiny, wasted rooms. Open floor plans afford more useable space — the kitchen that opens to the hang out and dining areas. An abundance of glass (either in large windows, french doors or  lift-and-slide doors, designed to open and disappear) bring the outdoors in. Again, efficiency is key. Savvy homeowners are desiring that 100 percent of their spaces should be completely functional.

Formal Living and Dining Rooms are also being eradicated from renovations, even in homes where they were once the welcoming feature. I see these rooms turning into more private spaces (like libraries…..often the only remaining room without a TV), or  more entertaining spaces (like bars which encourage group seating and social gathering). Either way, homeowners are opting for more casual and comfortable spaces that they actually use on a daily basis instead of the separate formal spaces intended to “impress”.

2. Modular housing units

Virginia Tech, my alma mater, has been working on some incredible cutting edge ideas in the past few years. You may have already heard about the LUMENhaus that won international acclaim a few years ago. This project was conceived through a join effort of faculty, students and cross discipline professors at the University. It was constructed of modular parts and is transported on the back of an 18 wheeler. The side walls “react” to the position of the sun and slide and fold as needed to provide the best shade and passive solar heat for the space.

Lumenhaus, Solar House at night

Lumenhaus, Solar House at night

  1. FUTUREhaus –

    Not one to sit back and rest on its success, the students and faculty have moved onto Phase 2 of this research project. The FUTUREhaus concept makes “cartridge” spaces in side the house. Below is an image of the “cartridge kitchen” which is a pre fab unit. Check out this video on the bathroom unit which was showcased at the builder show in Las Vegas earlier this year. Some of the features of the home are:

  • Kitchen induction surfaces to clean, cook, prep, and wirelessly charge devices
  • A kitchen backsplash as a “Screen” to display recipes, weather, all connected to Alexa or remote digital voice control
  • Bathroom flooring with integrated lighting, heating and built in scales. Also connected to devices for emergency alerts if someone falls
  • Combination vanity mirror/TV/computer screen to relay morning traffic, weather, email, etc.
  • Real time digital reporting on water flow usage, power usage.
  • Hands free control of toilet, sinks, shower, doors and lighting
  • Automatic sensors to detect user preferences for things like vanity height, lighting for makeup, and room temperature
  • Universal design principles

Its pretty incredible, check out this video on the whole process to learn more!