New home construction has come a long way in recent years with a focus on space design, energy efficiency, and environmentally-friendly materials. Here are the latest features in new home construction:
Large Mud Rooms (aka Family Foyers) – Large mud rooms have extended their footprint in new homes. Previously, mud rooms were often limited to just a hallway with a built-in, but now they are taking on a larger role by accommodating seating, sometimes with a desk to pay bills, and drop zone for mail. Think about it as a room to hide all the mess when you or your children walk in the door – there’s a place to drop shoes, coats, backpacks, laptops, papers, mail and even to take a minute to sit and relax before entering the main house. All of this is usually hidden behind a sliding door to create separation and the ability to close off this area from guests seeing the mess.
Heated floors – Heated floors are especially popular in the primary bathroom. Making cold tile warm in the winter is a game changer! Heated floors operate on a timed thermostat so you can program the heat to match your schedule. Waking up and the bathroom is already toasted, no longer cringing when your bare feet hit the cold floor and scrambling to get your slippers on. Once you have them, you’ll never want to be without them.
A Hidden Room – Childhood dreams come true! Having a hidden room to relax and unwind or to safely retreat into if needed, these rooms are being added behind bookshelves just like in the movies! Often found in an office, a walk-in closet, or primary bedroom, hidden rooms can serve a variety of purposes like hiding a prized and valuable collection, a hidden entertainment area, or a reading and relaxing spot. Another example is the understairs space that often goes unused, which can be turned into a hidden fun playroom for kids. We’ve even seen a hidden hatch door in the floor that led to a wine room underground. The possibilities are endless.
Environmentally Friendly – Environmentally-friendly building has become a favorite for energy efficiency, with an attainable and clear ROI and because of increased environmental awareness. Homeowners want to be a better steward of the planet, and this not only saves homeowners money on energy bills, but it also helps to reduce the overall carbon footprint of the home. There are many ways builders are incorporating this into their plans, such as:
● Solar: Your builder can prepare the roof when built for solar panels. Installing mounts and preparing for wiring during construction will save you money for when you do install solar panels in the future.
● EV Ready: Your builder can ensure that your home has enough electrical service in your garage and install chargers during construction.
● Battery Ready: Equipping your home with solar batteries allows you to capture the energy produced with solar (instead of or in addition to sending it back to the grid) and then use it as you need it, either during a power outage or on cloudy days when solar may not be sufficient.
● Geothermal Systems: According to the US Department of Energy, a Geothermal heat pump can mean a 25%-50% reduction in energy consumed compared to a traditional system that uses air. In addition to the electricity savings, geothermal systems are eco-friendly because they don’t burn gas during operation. And because there’s no combustion, there’s no admission of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide or other greenhouse gasses. Because these systems are much quieter to operate, it also saves on noise pollution. If the builder is already digging for a septic for your home, ask about the possibility of adding geothermal during the dig.
There has been a significant shift towards the use of environmentally-friendly building materials. This includes the use of recycled materials, low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints and finishes. Eco-friendly building materials cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, and conserve natural resources; all while improving water and air quality. Examples are Low-Formaldehyde Insulation, Low-VOC Drywall Adhesives, Low-VOC Paints and Carpets, ENERGY STAR® Low-E Windows, low-flow plumbing fixtures, dual flush toilets and LED lighting packages.
Hidden Outlets – These can be an afterthought, but with planning ahead and smart design, your outlets don’t have to take away from your beautiful kitchen backsplash. Electrical outlets can be placed under the cabinets so they remain hidden from view and still easy to access. There are also countertop pop-up outlets that only appear when needed or removable tile plates that can keep the outlet masked when not in use. With the amount of device charging we need now, consider a charging station drawer. This drawer will have a power strip at the back of it and you can keep unsightly wires and devices out of view while charging. Perfect in the kitchen, bathroom and built-in desk drawers.
Large Kitchen Island – Kitchens are the heart and center of the home. Large kitchen islands serve a multitude of roles, from prep station to homework spot to eating area. Large kitchen islands have an aesthetic impact on the room as well. Popular design trends include the waterfall edge where the countertop continues down the side of the island all the way to the floor or the simpler English cottage style with tongue and groove paneling. Large dramatic hanging light pendants and gorgeous sink hardware help showcase the island as a centerpiece of the kitchen.
Floating vanities – Floating vanities add a contemporary feel and modern look. These shorter base cabinets appear to “float” on the wall instead of sitting directly on the floor. They can make small spaces look larger and open up the room. The downside is less storage space. To add to the floating visual, under-cabinet lighting is a popular added feature, this lighting below the floating cabinetry also adds to the “floating” appearance of the vanity.
Dog Wash Station – Dog owners are spending more and more on their dogs every year. A recent survey cited that one of the main reasons Millennials purchased a home was because of their dogs. So, it’s no surprise that new features specifically for dogs are becoming standard. We’re even seeing dog watering stations with a faucet to refill the water bowl.
Locating a dog bath in a mud room, laundry room ,or garage is a practical solution, especially if your space has exterior access. Putting everything you need right by an exterior entrance; your home will remain better protected from tracked-in dirt. Ideally your wash station has a faucet with a handheld sprayer attachment and drain area. Plus, it’s more versatile than you might think. You can use it not only for your furry friends, it’s also great for washing off muddy kids or dirty shoes.
Built-In Speakers Inside & Out – Bring on the tunes! If you already know where you want to put the sound system and entertainment center, talk to your builder about installing built-in speakers in those rooms. You’ll save yourself valuable floor or wall space and have the luxury of having your house literally filled with music.
Whether you’re building a new home or remodeling an existing one, these trends are worth considering to stay ahead of the curve and to optimize your space in a modern, fashionable way.
“Behind the Curtin” provides an inside look at local homeowners’ beautifully-crafted houses, giving insight into what it takes to renovate, upgrade, and style the most coveted parts of their dream homes. In this video series, industry expert and business owner Joanne Curtin explores local homes while interviewing their owners along the way to better understand their thought processes when making important decisions. Join Joanne to get a look into the world of thoughtful real estate one wonderful home at a time.
“Behind the Curtin” Episode 3 – A Courtyard in Milton, Georgia
Cathleen Klibanoff lives in Milton, Georgia with her son and two dogs. Cathleen is a published artist and writer. Her works have been on display at the FemArt Gallery in Jacksonville, Florida, Indianapolis Art Center, and the Bohemian Grand Gallery in Asheville.
Joanne: Where did you live before moving to Milton?
Cathleen: I lived in Asheville, North Carolina, near downtown and River Arts District.
Joanne: So, what brought you to Milton and why did you choose this particular home?
Cathleen: I lost my both parents over the last two years and something inside me just said, “The time is now to really enjoy family.” I have both a brother in Milton and a sister in Woodstock. When I saw this place, it was an answer to an indescribable thirst, which was for a place that had a real heart. And it needed work, but it had a courtyard. I love the concept behind the courtyard and it has a very sacred and spiritual feel. And I fell in love.
Joanne: I love that you said you wanted a home with heart because when I was at your house the courtyard was like the heart in the middle. So, what specifically makes this just a favorite place for you?
Cathleen: Well, and not that I’m doing this literally, but you could be completely naked and absolutely 100% safe. And I mean naked emotionally, not just physically. This is the inner sanctum, by invitation only. I am a very social person, but there are times that I am in a creative process or just an introspective space, and still want to be outside.
Joanne: I am hearing the word “cozy” a lot lately. People want to create comfort and coziness. The courtyard is really the ultimate outdoor cozy space.
Cathleen: This is something that is exceptional because it gives you that expansiveness and yet maintains the coziness.
Joanne: What was a splurge in designing this space? Something non-negotiable that you just had to have?
Cathleen: The fireplace was plain gray masonry so I had to tile it because it was so dominant in the space and I wanted it to have a voice of its own.
Joanne: What did you learn from the process?
Cathleen: When something is meant to be, the universe rallies and makes it possible. I was able to meet the right people that knew how to bring the renovation into being. So, hold true to your vision. And don’t be deterred or discouraged.
Joanne: How did you handle getting the materials in and out of the courtyard?
Cathleen: It was a labor of love because everything had to be hand carted in and out, including all the white rock that replaced the mulch.
Joanne: You’re an amazing artist. What can you teach us about this [renovation] experience?
Cathleen: Some people have an eye for interior decorating. But if that’s not the case, then I think it’s a good investment to hire someone. It’s a different way of seeing a space. And a lot of people don’t have the confidence, but still have the desire to bring in more color. You need to make really good choices depending on what your goal is, for that part of the house. Because color does have a story and everything has energy. You want to be mindful. And sometimes if that’s not your strong suit, then to delegate it is a good move for the investment.