Function and practicality top the list in 2018
By Meghan Diemel
If one word effectively captures the home trends of the last year or two, “shiplap” may say it all. Thanks to the popularity of HGTV and other do-it-yourself design and decor websites, homeowners have embraced incorporating the next big thing into the aesthetics of their abodes. For 2018, rustic or modern looks are the all-encompassing trend once again, explains Brian Calmes, the incoming president of the Home Builders Association of the Fox Cities.
“The consumers I see seem to get all of their ideas from the Fox Cities Parade of Homes, and being that the Parade is still showcasing modern and rustic trends [for February’s event], I don’t see that changing for 2018,” he says.
Fox Cities area homeowners are also amping up the practicality of their choice in trends. Whether it’s extending the living space through four-season rooms, or investing in “smart” switches and thermostats, the focus is on function.
Top-end four-season rooms have become a popular choice for people looking to extend the living space in their home while bringing the outdoors closer, says Paul Driessen, owner of Timber Innovations, Inc. in Kimberly.
These are definitely not the infomercial four-season rooms of a decade ago, however.
“They’re really putting a lot into these,” Driessen explains. “We’ve done several of them this past year and it’s been pretty exciting.”
Building on the trend of the outdoor kitchens, which began several years ago, Driessen’s clients have incorporated elements like grills and fireplaces into their four-season rooms.
“They also have Marvin bi-folding doors that open up the whole room and have drop-down Phantom Screens in them for insects,” he adds. “It just really gives them a full outdoor experience.”
Finished Basements & Theater Rooms
Andy Uecker, president of RUCON Construction Management in Kaukauna, says his clients are focusing on finishing their basements and adding theater rooms, which also produces additional living space.
“Their kids are getting older, they need a place to play or they want to put a theater room in or an extra bedroom for company, whatever the case may be,” Uecker explains.
There is a basic version of the theater room, he says, where the projector television and surround sound are simply the choice of entertainment system for that room, rather than its only purpose.
“We’ve also done a few that were dedicated areas,” Uecker adds, “where people will paint the walls darker colors, put sconces on the walls, and they’re stepped up a little bit. We’ll recess the screens into the walls. The one we’re doing in our parade home actually has the speakers behind the screen. The screen is made to have the sound waves travel through and not distort the picture or the sound. When you look at the wall, it’s a super clean look.”
Tod Raehl, who owns Tod Raehl Remodeling in Neenah, says his clients are putting their focus on bathrooms and, in particular, the showers.
“At least for myself, bathrooms are huge right now,” he says. “I’ve been putting in a lot of Kohler Choreograph panels, which is a newer Kohler product.”
The panels are made of Serica, Kohler’s proprietary composite material, and come in a range of colors, patterns and textures that can be customized with storage solutions and seating options.
“The advantage of that over tile is that it is a solid surface material,” Raehl states.
Meanwhile, Uecker says his clients are focusing on upscale tile showers.
“The general trend for the bathroom is tile showers versus an acrylic or fiberglass module,” he says. “It’s something that has been there for a while now. With bathrooms, either you’re a tub person or you’re not – there’s usually no in-between. I think the general feeling that you need a tub for resale value is kind of outdated. That said, if you don’t have a tub, you should have a nice shower.”
Kitchen Upgrades Continue
Two-tone, lit, and painted cabinetry, automated faucets, and hydraulic easy-close cabinets as well as drawers for clean-look storage have been all the rage on home improvement websites. There’s no doubt kitchens are still receiving a lot of attention by trendsetters.
“Kitchen upgrades are usually the focus when it comes to renovations,” says Calmes, who also owns Calmes & Rohm Construction. “With online sites today showing so many different ideas of what you can do, people want to have their own beautiful kitchen, knowing that it’s one of the rooms you use the most in your home.”
Making a home a “smart home” allows the homeowner to control the lighting, heating and air conditioning, entertainment systems and security systems remotely with a smartphone app or the internet. As with many technological advances, it has become more affordable to achieve than when the idea first came into vogue.
“There was big push for it in the early 2000s, but it was insanely expensive, like $10,000 to $20,000 a house,” Uecker states. “This year we’ve started to dabble in it, and we’ve gotten more requests.”
Uecker says the cost of some of the smart switches now isn’t much different from a regular dimmer switch, which makes it an affordable place to start adopting the trend.
Before following any trend, be practical. Much of what consumers see on television, for example, isn’t a real-life application of what can be achieved within a budget or without the aid of product placement discounts and freebies. Decide on a reasonable budget ahead of time and find someone you trust to complete the work and achieve your vision.
“Just be realistic about what you want to spend and what you want to gain out of it,” Uecker says. “If you’re doing it for personal enjoyment and the house needs updating anyway — that’s the biggest thing. It just makes the process so much easier if everyone is on the same page.”