The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Reveals What’s Trending

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) tracks yearly trends through its Best in American Living award winners and its Design Trends Roundtable. Alexandra Isham, Program Manager for Design at the NAHB, let Freshome in on some of the trends the organization has observed.

The lines are blurring between commercial and residential applications.

industrial features

Industrial features add to the beauty of this Seattle home. Image: Laurence Architecture

Materials are being used interchangeably in commercial and residential products, according to Isham. “A couple of examples include metal and wire railing systems in single-family houses, even ones with more traditional details where we would normally expect wood,” she says. “Another example is exposed metal beams, even in smaller cottages, that are tastefully incorporated.”

Isham explains that these are the kinds of details normally seen in trendy retail settings and other types of commercial spaces.

Mid-century modern takes a back seat.

Mid-century modern

This San Francisco kitchen combines form and function. Image: Fiorella Design

Transitional design blends traditional and contemporary architecture – and we’re seeing more of it. It’s also known as trans-contemporary, and incorporates aesthetics and function. “There should be a rhyme and reason to the shapes, as opposed to just being ‘modern,’’’ Isham says of transitional design. The NAHB has also noticed that there’s less of a focus on mid-century modern.

Less is more.

Less is more

Clean, simple style in a Chicago bathroom. Image: Bigane Construction Company

Clean and simple lines and detailing are in. However, Isham says that homebuyers still like traditional details. Another trend on the outs: rounded corners on drywall are becoming less popular.

Open floor plans gain definition.

Open floor plans

There are clearly-defined areas in this open concept floor plan. Image: Arthur Dyson Architects

While open floor plans are still the most popular choice among homebuyers, they want more definition between the spaces. “This can be achieved by altering ceiling heights or adding ceiling details like finishes or lighting, columns, a change in flooring type or direction, etc.,” Isham says.

“The beauty of open plans is that they can respond to the site conditions and needs and wants of the buyer.” For example, she says a living/family room can be placed at the front or the rear of a home. “Our members are also increasingly asked to include flex spaces in their plans that can be quickly converted to an office, extra seating, a craft room, a playroom, etc.”

Open floor plan2

This Austin home also has a clearly defined open floor plan. Image: Triton Austin

Isham says ceiling treatments are also being used to define spaces. “Another way to define separate areas is by using lighting, especially pendant light fixtures,” she says.

Formal dining rooms return.

Formal dining room

Surely this beautiful Manhattan dining room makes the food taste even better. Image: Robert Kaner Interior Design

Opinions are mixed on formal living rooms. However, Isham says formal dining rooms are making a comeback for two reasons. First, weekend chefs love to cook and entertain friends and family members. Secondly, large families and multigenerational families living in the same house are fueling the rising popularity of formal dining rooms.

Other trends.

Other trends

Wood and metal – always a good combination. Image: Ballantyne Design Associates

Isham is seeing more metal and wood on home exteriors, and shades of beige are also popular. “However, I don’t think that there is any one façade that defines single-family housing in the US – the regions, buyers and design aesthetics are so diverse that there’s really something for everyone.” Mixed materials are trending, but she says there are also a lot of traditional designs.  “Board and batten is very popular in some parts of the country, stone and wood in others.”


Shiplap reigns in this lakefront country estate in Greenville, SC. Image: Markalunas Architecture Group

“We’re seeing shiplap everywhere,” Isham says. “More detailed and unique tile patterns are also trending, from adding more interest to a kitchen backsplash to incorporating interesting geometry on a bathroom floor.”

Among flooring options, she says luxury plank vinyl is extremely trendy and wood remains a popular choice.

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