Today’s savvy home buyers are opting for smaller houses that offer space which is efficient, flexible and allows for stress-free living. Here are some hot home improvement trends that can make your “home-sweet-home” a little sweeter.
• Maintenance-free Exterior Siding – Fiber-cement siding is becoming one of the fastest-growing divisions of the siding market. Made from a combination of cement, sand and cellulosic fibers, it looks like wood – but will not rot, combust or give way to termites and other wood-boring insects. It is more expensive than paint-grade wood, vinyl and aluminum siding, but at $5 to $9 per square foot, it still returns 87% on your investment, which is the highest return of any upscale project (according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report). Cleaning and some caulking every spring is the only maintenance required for fiber-cement siding, and repainting is recommended every seven to 15 years (compared to wood, which requires repainting every four to seven years.
• Convertible Spaces – Although some homeowners still opt for their formal living and dining spaces, the trend is to forego the “company only” rooms and transform them into convertible spaces that can adapt to our lifestyles. Foldaway walls can turn any room into a quick over-flow party space and Murphy beds concealed in an armoire-like wall unit can turn a spare room into a guest room. For open spaces, home design experts suggest using area rugs to define (or redefine) specific spaces.
• For the Love of Laundry – Love it or hate, laundry is here to stay, so why not make the best of it by converting an unused space (like a mud room or spare bedroom) into a laundry room that you will actually love being in. With space that is big enough for the washer and dryer, a designated rack for hand-washables, a sink, and room to store detergent and related cleaning supplies –this may become your favorite room in the house. To make the conversion easier and save on plumbing costs, choose a space that has existing plumbing hookups or one that is adjacent to rooms with running water.
• Keeping up with the Kitchen – Trends show houses getting smaller, but according to the American Institute of Architects’ Home Design Trends Survey, kitchens are actually getting bigger. Families are spending even more time in the kitchen, helping to prepare meals together or entertaining friends for casual get-togethers. Double-prep sinks have been replaced by dual-prep islands with expansive counter space and extra storage. Some homeowners are opening up their kitchen space by combining seldom-used dining rooms and incorporating recycling centers and recharging stations.
• Energy Overload – Some of us can’t seem to go even a few hours without checking our phones, tablets, blackberries or laptops for the latest message, email or social media update. It may be an understatement to say we are a culture that runs on “energy and information overload.” To keep our connections to the world in check, we must keep our devices powered up by using additional energy to keep them charged. Current trends are also showing homeowners who install LED fixtures and are setting their thermostats at more economical temperatures. So, are we staying ahead of the energy curve? Energy monitors are a great way to monitor, track and gauge electricity usage on individual devices. Whole house monitors are also available, and some even supply real-time feedback that can be viewed remotely and that graph by the second, minute, hour, day and month.
• Storage Stow-Away – As the need to de-clutter our homes continues, homeowners are banishing storage baskets and discovering hidden and unlikely hideouts to stash their stuff. These options include under the stairs, over doors and even beneath the floors. Cozy niches and nooks are also losing their places as ‘museum corners,’ and are taking center stage for built-ins to show off collections and books, or even conform to precious storage for office supplies and kids toys.
• Home Office – Trends show an increasing number of us working from home in some capacity. Entrepreneurial passion, flexible work schedules and mobile communications have homeowners transforming spare bedrooms, family room niches and even basements and attics into office space. Despite wireless connections, having a designated office space is a great way to store and organize files and supplies and keep printers, fax machines and other office-related items.
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