Few forecasts of design trends are more reliable than those of experts in the field, which is why the Best in American Living Awards are looked as an accurate barometer of design preferences. This annual competition held in conjunction with the National Association of Home Builders annual trade show, highlighting over 150 award-winning homes, communities and interiors. Drawing from all the contenders, the panel of expert judges pinpoint what’s hot for residential architecture and design.
“The Best in American Living Awards provide a unique snapshot of the trends in new home design,” says Heather McCune, director of marketing for Bassenian Lagoni Architects, a Newport Beach firm that earned platinum and gold awards for production homes this year. “The winners showcase ideas that can help every builder bring to market the homes and communities that appeal to buyers today.”
Top Trends from the 2019 Best in American Living Awards:
- Black window frames
- The ceiling as the fifth wall of design
- Creative integration of outdoor spaces
- Delineation of spaces through mixed materials
- Indoor/outdoor connections
- Mid-century modern and modern farmhouse
- Mixed metals
- Multigenerational living
- Quite but purposeful architecture
- Stairs as a focal piece
- Texture on texture
The Best of the Best
Taking top BALA honors was a contemporary desert home in Paradise Valley, AZ, located near the base of Camelback Mountain. The use of mixed materials in the home, including Negra Cantera stone, highlights the composition of linear forms on the exterior, helping to differentiate spaces in the open concept interior.
The choice of natural materials connects the home to the surrounding landscape. A large pocket door opens the interior to terraces, a pool, and desert vistas. This home demonstrates a number of ongoing trends including delineation of spaces through mixed materials and a continuation of an emphasis on indoor-outdoor connections. “This trend gets stronger every year with increased emphasis on way physical and visual connections with outdoor spaces,” judges observed. Similar creative integration of outdoor spaces appear in a range of home prices and locations. The judges noted, “Even on the smallest and narrowest of lots, inspired solutions can provide home owners with ample outdoor living.”
Mid-Century Modern Remains Popular
Mid-century modern and modern farmhouse remain popular as architectural preferences for new homes and renovations.
A remodeled 1954 mid-century home in Greenville, SC, designed by Tindall Architecture Workshop, was the platinum winner for the South Atlantic region. Judges loved the re-purposed original materials, like the vertical grain old-grown fir used in the ceilings of the original structure, and the seamless combination of new and old, noting, “This is mid-century modern done exquisitely. The home is true to its theme and roots and tells a story and is appropriate for the site.”
Another mid-century modern home taking top honors was a custom residence in Wilmington, NC, designed by Phil Kean Design Group and Tongue & Groove LLC. Judges’ comments call attention to interior detailing including stacked stone, light colored walls, stained wood, and large format flooring tiles.
Back in Black
Black has become a versatile hue, making an appearance in faucets, hardware, cabinets, and window frames. Judges especially liked black window frames as another trend playing seen across all price points and architectural styles.
Black frames on windows add a modern note to traditional elevations. For contemporary spaces, they blend perfectly, as seen in the remodeled classic kitchen deemed Room of the Year created by architect/designers KD Project Design and JM Kitchen and bath and builder Malibu Remodeling. A stunning oversized island of gray veined white marble, contrasting gray and black cabinets, white walls and trim and black framed glass doors to outdoor living spaces redefined the kitchen in the 1978 custom home. Black painted cabinets and brushed gold hardware visually define cooking and service areas. The black framed doors contrast with white trim and draw the eye to the outdoors. Don Ruthroff, principal at Dahlin Group Architecture Planning, NAHB’s 20189 judging chair, celebrated this design as an example of “designers and builders who go the extra mile to bring out the best in a structure.”
What Else is Happening With Home Design Trends?
Multigenerational living with suites and transitional spaces designed to accommodate a range of ages. The trend is stronger in some parts of the country than others, but it is changing how we think of space in a home. Other highlighted trends include stairs as a focal point, a design trend that has been strong for several years.
Overall, another trend, quiet but purposeful architecture, aptly characterizes design as trends from 2018 move into 2019. “Forms and ratios are following best practices in a muted and memorable manner,” explain judges.
Camilla McLaughlin is an award-winning writer specializing in house and home. Her work has appeared in leading online and print publications, such as Yahoo! Real Estate, Unique Homes magazine and Realtor magazine. She has also freelanced for the Associated Press.