Architecture and DesignNewsletter

Timely, Timeless Homes

It’s important to understand the buyer’s mindset and the direction of design trends to achieve the timeless home

By Donna Aldrich

Whether we are in the best of times or the worst of times, bubbly or bursting, creating timely yet timeless homes is our passion – designer, builder or developer. The wide swings in the cycles of our industry challenge us to optimize our creativity in many different ways to consistently offer today’s homebuyers car-stopping new homes and communities. 

The Homebuyer Brain 

In addition to typical target market research, we need to understand more about the current new homebuyer’s mindset. Attitudes are shifting away from following home design guru dogma to an increasing desire for personalization and the demonstration of individual style. Options, flex spaces and fixture/finish packages speak to this desire. Shrinking new home square footage and homebuyer budgets demand we provide more functions in less space or dual-duty spaces for Zoom meetings, cozy private time, drop-zones, storage, home entertainment and staycations. 

Listen to the Land 

No matter the price point, homes that meld seamlessly with their site create the basis for timelessness. Material selections, details and color palettes can all contribute to site-sensitive design solutions and help to further define specific, geographically selected architectural styles. Roughcut stone and raw, unstained, rusticated wood detailing add to a mountain vibe. Seaside serenity is further enhanced through the use of smooth lap siding accents finished in oceanic to sunset-inspired hues juxtaposed against clean white plaster walls. Historic adjacencies in urban settings can inspire theming, elevation design, materials and color palettes for site-specific synergy to best stand the test of time. 

Outdoor Living 

The current outdoor living trend cannot be overemphasized; it’s a homebuyer’s top priority desired year-round. Increased building density becomes more livable and desirable with community amenity green space creating an extension of limited yard space in thoughtful master plans. Merging the flow of outdoor spaces with indoor spaces, adding more sliding glass doors and enlarging windows all contribute to enhanced nature connectivity and marketability. 

A Little Yesterday in Tomorrow’s Homes 

The world turns and the pendulum swings. Predictably, the pendulum is starting to swing the other way – traditional design is edging back into the modern arena of favored home design. Eclectic mixes that blend old and new are emerging. Move over Mid-Century Modern and Modern Farmhouse to include transitional architectural styles with more traditional Farmhouse, Craftsman and streamlined Cottage design influences. 

Material Matters 

Current trends in new homebuilding materials present a design conundrum. The desire and preference for sustainable, natural materials, especially wood with inherent raw imperfect surfaces belie the practicality of durability and cost economy. Fortunately, manufacturers continue to bring new, natural, wood-like materials to market addressing both issues with believable results. Big, bold, geometrically shaped stone and large-scale brick with a more industrial edge have retained their popularity. A little masonry can go a long way in adding visual interest to elevations with constrained budgets. The texture is in, smooth surfaces are out. Simplified elevation designs, especially those with limited material diversity, benefit from strategic color blocking to enhance the massing of buildings, provide layering effects and visually define focal points. 

Color Trends Considered 

Color is coming. Gray is giving way to nuanced, warmer hues. There’s so much more than just white with black accents for the evolving Modern Farmhouse – board and batten siding can be enlivened by playful saturated color and also reference historic applications when apropos. Color trends for the building sector are fortunately on the slower trajectory behind pop culture, fashion and home décor trends – Barbie Pink may not be seen on new homes soon. But we keep a watchful eye and feel the pulse of these primary influences to maintain fresh approaches and marketability in our quest for timely, timeless home design solutions – it’s always time.

Donna Aldrich, CID, LEED AP ID+C, is a principal of Architectural Color Design at William Hezmalhalch Architects.