As we head into a new decade, it’s time to say goodbye to some of the tired trends in residential design (we’re looking at you, barn doors in the living room and driftwood finishes) and hello to fresh ideas. So let’s get excited for 2020 because black is back in a bold new way and Kon Mari’d kitchens are officially a thing.
Read on for the top five trends industry experts predict will be big in 2020.
Marie Kondo’d Kitchens
The Marie Kondo principles of keeping home interiors simplified and discarding items unless they “spark joy” have more recently become a popular trend in kitchen design, according to Elisa Morgante founding partner of Morgante Wilson Architects. “There’s definitely a trend toward modern, cleaner looks, achieved through everything from concealed appliances to slab stone backsplashes,” says Morgante.
“Even in homes where the kitchen itself is tucked away, there’s a desire to remove unnecessary visual clutter so that it’s a more inviting space.”
At Cirrus, a luxury condominium tower under construction along the Chicago’s lakefront, developer Lendlease has taken into account that residents – particularly downsizers and second-home buyers – are no longer viewing the kitchen as a do-it-all work/gather space, and for urban residents with access to a wide variety of restaurants and cafes, the kitchen may not even get used very often. Linda Kozloski, creative design director at Lendlease, notes that kitchen designs are being “streamlined…we are ‘hiding’ the appliances behind cabinetry panels. The refrigerator, dishwasher and exhaust hood have panels that match the cabinetry to create a more built-in look.” Kozloski adds that “in plans featuring open kitchen and living areas, buyers appreciate the simplicity so that the kitchen doesn’t detract from other areas of the home or, in the case of Cirrus, the sweeping lake and city views.”
Gray is Passé and Black is Back
For the last decade, gray has dominated as the “new neutral.” However, according to a recent survey of professional interior designers by Sherwin-Williams, two-thirds of those interviewed said that black is their new go-to color. “In doing our research, it felt like gray had been overdone – we wanted a model that looked fresh and inspiring with an urban sensibility,” said Jeff Benach, principal of Lexington Homes. “Similar to gray, a black-and-white color palette can work with almost any other shade for nice pops of color; plus, it’s gender neutral, so it appeals to everyone.”
“I won’t say gray will ever go away, but it doesn’t look as ‘new’ as black going into 2020,” said Elissa Morgante. “We’re seeing a trend toward more adventurous choices such as special dark, monochromatic and very saturated wall colors. Black certainly fits into that category, and it can be very dramatic, classic, casual or modern depending on how it’s used…We’re using it everywhere from whole rooms and accent walls to black-stained floors, cabinetry and trim.”
The average entry foyer measures just 86 square feet, or 3% of the space in a typical new home, according to a recent study from the National Association of Home Builders. While the foyer has traditionally been viewed as a more utilitarian space, foyer designs are changing as developers, homebuilders, and homeowners seek to create a stylish first impression.
“The foyer is often overlooked in condominium design, but it is one of the most important elements of a floor plan because it evokes a grand sense of arrival,” said Liz Brooks, vice president of sales and marketing for Belgravia Group. “Buyers, especially those opting for a condominium in lieu of a single-family home, appreciate having a dedicated entryway that allows for a more graceful, defined transition to the rest of the home.”
Before Listing Your Home: Renovate!
With home sales slowing in many parts of the country, a new niche market has emerged: firms offering light renovations to help sellers achieve their best sale price.
“In today’s market, most buyers want a turnkey home that’s Instagram-worthy, but sellers often struggle with what that looks like. Knowing what to do first is the biggest challenge for sellers,” says Michael Valente, managing partner for Renovation Sells, a pre-sale home renovation service that works alongside Realtors and homeowners in making minor renovations to achieve a higher sale price. According to Valente, the firm’s average project takes 21 days, costs around $20,000, and sells within 28 days of being on the market.
“In today’s market, most buyers want a turnkey home that’s Instagram-worthy, but sellers often struggle with what that looks like,”
Ben Creamer, co-founder and managing broker of Downtown Realty Co., a brokerage firm specializing in luxury rental and for-sale residences in downtown Chicago, stated that their “first advice to sellers is to repaint in a neutral color…But kitchen updates, like adding a backsplash or switching out countertops, can pay the biggest dividends, reducing market time and resulting in a higher price. Unless a seller is super handy, those high-return projects typically require a contractor to get it done right.”
Valente offers the following list of minor updates sellers should make before listing their home:
• Neutral cabinetry. Most people do not realize it is possible to attractively paint existing cabinetry, thereby completely updating a kitchen’s aesthetic for a nominal cost. Those white, grey or two-toned cabinets that populate the pages of popular design magazines can be cost effectively achieved with a simple paint job.
• Sleek countertops. Busy multi-colored granite countertops were all the rage 10-15 years ago, but today’s buyers want sleek and seamless countertops in light neutral colors that mimic marble.
• Wood flooring. Floors take the brunt of day-to-day life and tend to show wear and tear, so sanding and staining a natural wood floor is an easy fix that can refresh and modernize the entire space.
• Modern light fixtures and hardware. This is perhaps one of the easiest ways to update the design aesthetic of the room. A striking light fixture over the kitchen island can transform the space.
Home Buying & Selling Goes Digital
According to the National Association of Realtors 2019 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report, millennials currently represent the largest generation of homebuyers, which in turn has caused brokerage and financial services firms to pivot their focus to the digital space. Many firms are creating proprietary apps and new technology to make the process of buying, selling, and financing a home easier and more mobile.
“The millennial generation is the first wave of homebuyers who, as digital natives, expect to review all details of the buying/selling transaction from their phone,” said David Garside, executive vice present of title and escrow operations at Proper Title LLC. “In fact, traditional paper methods by lenders, Realtors, and title companies have been streamlined to adapt to the digital trend and a new generation of buyers.”
According to Laura Ellis, president of residential sales and executive vice president of Baird & Warner, the largest family-owned independent brokerage in Illinois, “the sea of available online data can be overwhelming for consumers, and there’s only going to be more of it. Embracing proptech to create new tools that help buyers and sellers cut through some of that noise is a natural extension of our services.”
An example of Baird & Warner’s shift to the digital age is evidenced in the launch of their new website (in partnership with Buyside) that instantaneously connects sellers with real-time market data specific to their home. Existing owners can use the data to create an informed decision regarding the best time to list. Ellis explains that available insights include as many as three real-time estimates and buyer heat maps to gauge market demand based on recent sales activity and how many buyers are searching in a similar price range within the area.