Appliances are seeing some modern updates, too, with experts agreeing that stainless steel is fast on its way out in favor of natural materials like concrete, copper, granite and other stone on countertops and appliances. Those appliances are not only becoming more luxurious, but they’re getting smarter, too. “Upper-end appliances” were popular with one-quarter (25%) of AIA survey respondents, as were smart appliances. Smart kitchens are also becoming more prevalent, with 22% citing a rise in “connected” kitchens.
“Demand has remained solid for smart home features in the kitchen, which isn’t a surprise as more new systems and products are being introduced at a dizzying pace,” AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Ph.D, Hon., said in a statement. “At the same time, ensuring accessibility throughout these areas and promoting convenience remain priorities for homeowners.”
The great outdoors
As we transition out of the kitchen and into the outdoors, it’s worth noting that 45% of responses to the AIA survey indicated spaces that blend the two in the form of outdoor kitchens were increasingly important. Whether accessed from common spaces or master bedrooms, outdoor living is one of the hottest trends among homebuyers and remodelers alike—according to the “2017 Houzz Landscape Trends Study,” a survey of U.S. homeowners in the midst of or recently completing outdoor projects, nearly 70% of homeowners relax in their outdoor space. During warmer months, they’ll spend almost seven hours per week doing precisely that, and even in colder months, outdoor space still sees almost a solid two and a half of hours of use a week.
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This embrace of the outdoors has not only resulted in outdoor kitchens and bars—complete with sinks and refrigerators, of course—but also an increase in demand for stunning patios, porches and balconies. Ideal spaces for entertainment, many Americans are eager to furnish these areas with seating just as comfortable as anything a guest may find inside.
Another hot trend in outdoor living? Fireplace and fire pits. When it comes to fireplaces, indoor-outdoor options and sealed-front products are quite popular, and the latter is especially well-suited to many Colorado homeowners’ needs, as they don’t feature an open flame (it’s behind sealed glass), a crucial consideration for those who live in more fire-prone regions of the state. Additionally, as Peter Schoenfeld, vice president of sales at Fireplace Warehouse and president of the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, Rocky Mountain chapter, told Colorado Patio & Landscape, “What people are liking about the sealed-front units is that the elements don’t really get inside of it: leaves and dust and spiders and bugs.”
While no one can be absolutely certain of the future, these building and design trends currently dominating common areas, master bathrooms, master bedrooms, kitchens and the outdoors don’t show any signs of flagging. Americans have only recently begun to embrace the concepts of universal design, visitability and aging in place. As awareness continues to expand, Colorado home builders can expect to see these trends strengthen as the year progresses.