Whether you live in a relatively new home or an older residence, there’s no question that a home starts to feel stale if it’s never updated. While watching HGTV or DIY shows may make you feel like a failure for not demolishing your walls and remodeling your own bathroom, there’s an easier way to get inspiration for redecorating your home: visit a model home.
Builders work with the best local interior designers, either on their staff or contractors that they hire, to showcase their residences and help prospective buyers envision themselves in each property. While you may not like every single design trend that you see, you could pick up some tips that will freshen your look and perk up your rooms during winter’s darkest days or just in time for spring.
A quick tour of local model homes can show you what buyers want now so you can improve your home for yourself or for future resale. You may even get so inspired you want to trade in your current home and move right into a new place.
Nine 2017 design trends
• Rustic touches. Among the newly designed homes that won “Best in American Living” awards at the 2017 International Builder’s Show, many had rustic accents such as shiplap walls in the kitchen, an exposed brick wall in one or more rooms, natural wood ceilings, wood beams or barn doors. Barn doors can be relatively simple replacement for a closet door or pantry or to add the option of closing off a dining area.
• Outdoor fireplaces and fire pits. While indoor fireplaces are becoming less common, particularly wood-burning fireplaces, outdoor fire pits and fireplaces are more popular than ever and relatively simple to add to your backyard.
• Hybrid design styles. Most model homes today have a mix of textures and styles rather than sticking to all traditional features or to a completely contemporary look. If your home is seamlessly designed in one style, consider perking it up with a vintage table or chair or an industrial-looking light fixture. Modern designers are beginning to mix metals for drawer pulls and cabinet handles and are creating two-tone kitchens with a mix of dark and light cabinets or a different surface on the island and counters.
• Smart house technology. Model homes typically include smart home features like a Nest thermostat that “learns” your preferred temperatures at different times of day or an app that lets you unlock your door while you’re at the office. Many of those features are easily added to an existing home to simplify your life.
• Fancy barstools and walls of tile are adding sparkle to kitchens. According to Houzz, this year barstools will be the “jewelry of your kitchen.” Replacing your traditional stools with a modern or contemporary-style seat can instantly upgrade your space. If you’re planning a bigger upgrade, consider putting in a wall of tile instead of a backsplash for a more dramatic look.
• Multipurpose rooms. Does your formal dining room sit empty unless it’s a major holiday? Consider redesigning the room so you can use it as an office, a homework space for the kids, a craft room or a yoga studio when it’s not a dining room. You can do this by buying a dining table that functions for casual use, covering your formal dining table with sturdy cloth to protect it or buying a table that can be extended when needed but folds into a small footprint when not in use.
• Blur the lines between your indoor and outdoor space. If you have the means, converting a wall into an all-glass wall of pocket doors or accordion-style folding door can expand your living space to embrace indoor and outdoor rooms. If that’s out of reach, consider refurnishing your outdoor space with living room furniture covered in outdoor fabric that compliments your interior furniture so your spaces seem more connected. Add a screen or cover your outdoor space and add heaters so you can use it in three seasons.
• Pendant lights moving out of the kitchen. Hanging pendant lamps next to your bed can eliminate the need to clutter your nightstand with a table lamp as well as add a touch of modern pizzazz to your bedroom. Houzz says this is one of 2017’s top trends.
• Upgrade your laundry room. Laundry rooms in model homes almost always have a window and built-in storage cabinets, along with great lighting and attractive flooring. If yours doesn’t look as appealing, see if you can add some storage and function to the space.
Touring a model home can give you fresh eyes for your own place, plus it’s a great excuse to get out of the house on a winter afternoon.
Michele Lerner is a freelance writer with more than twenty years of experience writing articles and web content for newspapers and magazines on topics related to real estate, personal finance and business. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, NewHomeSource.com, Realtor.com, Bankrate.com, Insurance.com, HSH.com, The Washington Times, NAREIT's Real Estate Portfolio, and numerous Realtor association publications. Her latest book, "New Home 101: Your Guide to Buying and Building a New Home" and her first book, "HOMEBUYING: Tough Times, First Time, Any Time" are available now at Amazon.com or from MicheleLerner.com.