According to Realtor.com, the top 5 trends for 2014 are Tranquility, Mission Control, Traditional Design, Passive Homes, and Flexible Space
I’d like to add one more to this list, One Story Living.
Tranquility – I base my personal practice on this very idea. You want your spaces to enhance your life. At the end of the work day you want to come home and relax. You want to sink into that recliner, you want to crank up the music and dance around with the windows open, or you want to wake up in the morning to sit in the sunny breakfast nook with two hands wrapped around your steaming cup of coffee. Admit it, you have spent hours looking at beautiful spaces on Pinterist and Houzz imagining what your laundry room might look like with all that natural light and storage! Very rarely these days do I get requests for the small maze of rooms that once dominated our old farmhouse and federal style homes. Everyone wants an open concept, a glass shower that feels like part of the room, and a spa bath to get away and relax. The one thing that most people miss that all of these spaces have in common is a great lighting scheme. From daylighting to the right amount of multi-level lighting, the key to a great space is how it’s lit.
Mission Control: When you get home, your first stop is the kitchen. Drop off the bags you just lugged in from the car, grab a snack, start preparation for dinner, watch your kids as they finish their homework, or simply sit and have another cup of coffee to get you through the day. The hearth, and now the kitchen, as the center of the home, was a concept that Frank Lloyd Wright understood many years ago. Everything in the craftsman style homes was built around it, it gave a sense of placement and control, it gave order to the space. The kitchen is the hub where friend and family hang out while you are cooking and entertaining. It’s become bigger, better, and open to the rest of the living spaces. We have stepped away from the old convention where the kitchen was a separate room, or maybe even a separate building, and brought the kitchen into the center of living within the home. It’s the place where your friends stop by for a cup of tea and stay for the whole afternoon.
Traditional Design: I think this statement ties together tranquility and mission control. We aren’t talking about traditional room layout, so much as, the details that were present in traditional style homes. I like to call it simple beauty. We still ooh and ahh over the details of the woodwork and the stained glass windows. The simplicity of the style, yet the intricate detail of how every piece fit together. Recently several clients have come to me with their gathered photos, all describing the beautiful detailing of a craftsman style home. It reminds me of that age old architecture statement: Beauty is in the Details. And the details, as we architects know them, are scale and proportion. You can hardly walk through the streets of Rome without getting swept up in the romance of the old buildings, the close alleys, and the cobblestones under your feet. They don’t tear down buildings in Rome, they simply add on and adjust. They understand the human scale with relation to the street, and the people passing by. They understand the awnings and the street side cafes.
Passive homes. To refer back to what I was talking about above, all trends come full circle. Traditional design is a trend that has reemerged just like we knew once upon a time that the building should face to the south and we could harness the embodied energy of the sun. We understood that stones and mass material would absorb the sunlight and reflect the heat once the sun went down. We understood the science behind it. When the technological revolution took off, we spent more time researching and creating “machines” and we forgot about the simple rules of life. You will see more and more people today discussing organic farming, simple living, and stay at home mothers. We have come full circle from our grandparents in the 50’s, to our parents who were baby boomers, to our generation X individuals who want to take a step back in time an remember a simpler way of life, and maybe not work 24/7.
And last, but not least – Flexible spaces. I think all of the topics talked about above go hand in hand with this last statement. We now require our spaces to do more then just operate. We want to subdivide our space into office areas separate from the home as more individuals work from home. We want to create a divide that could be changed into rental space in the future, or an in-law apartment as our parents age. We are talking about other cultures where several generations live together and function as one unit, much like older farm families.
My last “add on” trend was one story living and aging in place. I think that with the passive house movement, and the onset of generations getting older and needing to live longer on retirement income, we will start to see more one story homes that people can grow into. We are working longer, living longer, and we want to stay in our homes as long as possible. Although the 2-story home, where we once raised our children, is appealing with all of it’s beauty, it becomes very difficult to heat and costly to operate as you age in your home.
As an architect I love to see how technology and climate change in the built world. I spend hours researching, looking at old trends, new trends, and new science. It’s only April, but it will be exciting to see how the trend round out the end of the year!