Most Popular Housing Trends for 2017

The past few years have seen a rise in several housing trends that we predict will continue on through this year and even 2018.  Many millennials are buying and building homes and they are looking to make a smaller footprint and simplify.  The architectural features that were important to older generations are no longer needed or are out of place in the modern home.

Green Living

Energy efficient appliances and windows are a must for any new homes, long-term savings and the environmental implications are something that most people consider now.  With the onset of low-flow faucets, solar heating, tankless water heaters, and duel-flush toilets, it’s becoming easier to make every aspect of a home save time, money, and resources.

Disappearing Living Rooms

Livings rooms as a separate room are becoming less and less common, instead what homebuyers or homebuilders are looking for is a “great room”.  This is an open floor plan that combines that family, kitchen, and dining rooms into one huge common room.  This room has space for homework to be done, meals to be eaten, parties to be had, and more.


Walk-in pantries and huge islands are on their way out while recessed lighting and large farmhouse style sinks are becoming increasingly popular.  Resell value is a big thing with the more transient millennials, and therefore the modern sleek kitchen is making way for the cozy and comfortable kitchen which has proved itself popular through many different kitchen trends. 


Copper is the new hot metal for fixtures, and mixing copper or gold with wood is becoming even more popular, though gold and bronze are also becoming more sought after.  Grays and blacks are making their way up to the top of most desirable neutrals as well.  All of these colors work well together or separately, and also mix well in many different mediums, shades, and materials.

Raw Materials

Materials such as stone and wood are making their way back into homes in place of stainless steel and tile.  Featuring the raw organic beauty of nature (whether manufactured to look like nature or truly from nature) is the way to go; everything in its natural form.

Curb Appeal: Garage Doors

Curb appeal is your home’s first chance to impress your friends, neighbors, family, and potential buyers (remember that you should always consider your home to be one of your most important investments).  With up to 30% of homes in the US having a garage door that is a prominent feature of the front façade for easy drive-in, your garage door will likely be seen by not only your visitors but by everyone who drives by.

Before you think that choosing a garage door is an easy matter, remember that you are not just choosing a color, but also a window pattern and design.  There are literally thousands of combinations that are offered by some garage door manufacturers.

Thankfully, this is something that garage door manufacturers understand, and they have created a solution to keep you from becoming overwhelmed.  We like Wayne-Dalton’s Garage Door Design Center  which allows you to overlay a photo of your house with garage door designs.  Overhead Door Corp offers a similar option with DoorView.  If you have a particular brand of garage door in mind, it’s a good idea to get with your custom home builder or to call the brand directly to see what sort of tools they offer to assist you when choosing a garage door.

Types of Garage Door Construction

Single-layer garage doors are a lightweight and low cost option.  They are made of a single outer layer of fiberglass, engineered wood, or steel and have little insulating value.

Double-layer garage doors have an outer and inner skin with an interior of polystyrene board and an insulating value of R-4 to R-7.

Premium garage doors have an outer and inner layer of wood, fiberglass, or higher quality steel and an interior of polyurethane or polystyrene with insulating values over R-15.

The next thing consideration to be made is what is the best material for a garage door.  There are many from which you can choose but the pros and cons of each is important.  Your house’s location and the climate is important.  We will go over the types of materials for garage doors in our next post.

Farmhouse Style Tips

With the rise in popularity of shows such as Fixer Upper with Joanna and Chip Gaines, and more people realizing the value of antiques and styles of days past, so the farmhouse has begun to see a comeback as the preferred architectural style of many people.  This style of house is an all-American classic which can be found sitting alone upon acres and acres of land, or in the suburbs surrounded by other houses, cars, and people.

Curb appeal is an important aspect of every home.  If you’re trying to sell a house, this is the first thing that potential home buyers will notice about the property.  If you have no plans to go anywhere, this is what your neighbors and friends see, a first impression of your home, style, and life.

Here are a few of our favorite tips for maximizing the curb appeal of your farmhouse:

  1. Classic doorknobs and hardware.

Dark, heavy, quality hardware is something that all farmhouses usually have for their doors, mailboxes, and other odd bits of metal.

  1. Front porch seating area.

Rocking chairs are a staple of farmhouse front porches, a porch swing can also be used in lieu of or in addition to rockers.

  1. Front porch.

Speaking of front porch seating options, does your house have a front porch, or does that front porch need a bit of repair?  Adding on a porch to your home isn’t as difficult as it may sound.  A wraparound porch is an especially classic look.

  1. Consider a fresh coat of paint in a gorgeous farmhouse appropriate shade.

Paint can dress up any home and some of the best colors that we’ve found are: barn red, or buttermilk both of which are classic with white trim.  Or try classic white with a dark trim.

  1. Standing-seam metal roof.

This will give you a classic but modern look for your farmhouse and will last quite a bit longer than the traditional shingle.

  1. New fence.

Consider adding or updating your house with a new fence.  A white picket or split-rail fence are both appropriate for a farmhouse.

House Siding 101

The siding that you choose for your house is not often talking about but is an important element in your dream home’s design.  Your siding choice should take into account your home’s curb appeal, your budget, and much more and once you make the choice, it’s not something that can be easily replaced so it’s important to choose something timeless and durable.  This guide to house siding choices will help explain house siding options.


This siding option can be found in wood and fiber cement, vinyl, and shakes.  Shingles are great for traditional style homes but be prepared for quite a bit of upkeep as well as a larger upfront cost.

Horizontal Lap Siding

Made from aluminum, vinyl, fiber cement, or wood, this siding option can be almost any color.  It works well with a traditional or colonial style home with symmetrical forms. The cost is about $3-7 per square foot.

Wood Strip Siding

This type of siding is made from wood and typically has a tongue-in-groove formation.  A continuous waterproof membrane is crucial for this type of siding because if water gets behind the siding it will damage your home’s interior.  This is an expensive choice for siding and the cost will depend upon the type of wood.

Board and Batten

Made from fiber or wood cement, this type of siding creates vertical lines and can help your house appear taller.  It was first used on farm buildings and is a low-cost siding choice that would be beautiful for a farm-style or country home

Fiber Cement Panels

This type of siding is made of cement fibers and comes in panels of 4×8 feet.  The cost (including installation) is about $6-$10 per square foot.

Stone & Brick

One of the most durable materials to choose for your home’s siding, both materials come in an array of textures, sizes, and colors.  But when something is built to last, the price tag is much higher.  Brick costs about $16-$22 per square foot while stone will cost about $30-$55 per square foot.


This material is available in a synthetic or natural form.  It works well for large surfaces with a simple design.  If you choose to use synthetic stucco, you will need to have a vapor barrier installed to avoid moisture buildup within the walls. It costs about $10-$14 per square foot.

Best Stair Designs for a Custom Home

A great use of space for custom homes is to have a second story, there are several reasons for this:

  1. Roofing per square foot is going to be one of larger expenses that you pay for your custom home.
  2. It’s easier and cheaper to cool and heat a two story house than a one story.
  3. Some experts say that a two story house can be up to 33% cheaper per square foot to build than a one story house.

Because of these benefits, many people choose a two story house design instead of a one story, which means that unless you plan on using a ladder to access your second floor, you’ll need to consider stair designs and how they will fit into your custom house design.

Stairs have two main types: plain and elaborate.  Less expensive smaller houses designs typically include the plainer stairs while more expensive larger houses have the fancier ones.


A grand staircase can be a main design element of the character of your home, it can have a circular shape, less steep of a step, and be as wide as you’d like.  A plainer staircase will be a standard size and shape, twelve inches deep and six inches high.  While an elaborate staircase may be featured near the front entrance, a plainer staircase is usually found nearer the back of the house.  A plain staircase is likely to involve a turn or two, this is because a straight flight of steps takes up a lot of space while a 90 or 180 degree turn will save space for other rooms.  More extravagant staircases usually feature a gentle turn that is easy on the eyes.


Though many people choose carpeting for their stairs because it is a cheaper option and tends to muffle any sounds as one moves from one floor to another, hardwood, stone, or laminate will last longer and make your home look and feel more expensive.  It will cost you more to install, but this is one part of your home that will see a lot of traffic and it’s best to choose something that will stand the test of time.  Another more modern option is to choose open metal stairs, this works well in a minimalist home design.

Is Vinyl Flooring a Good Option?

Why should you choose vinyl flooring for your home?  On the outside, it may appear that wood or tile would be a better choice but here are four questions to ask yourself that might lead you to deciding on vinyl.

  1. Do you need something versatile?

Vinyl is both nonporous and scratch resistant, this means that you can use it for high traffic areas such as family rooms and living spaces as well as in wet rooms such as your bathrooms, mudroom, and kitchen. Its durability means that it is able to bear up against snow, rain, sand, and dirt alike.  Though vinyl can show imperfections in your subfloor, its malleability can also help to mask problems such as the shifting foundation that we face here in South Texas.

  1. Do you need something water resistant?

Because vinyl is nonporous and doesn’t absorb moisture like laminates and woods, it is perfect for bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms.  Most vinyl comes with waterproof backing which means that it is 100% resistant to water.

  1. Do you need something easy to install?

The beauty of vinyl is not only that a pro can easily install it for a much cheaper price than hardwood or tiles, but also that it makes for a DIY-friendly project.  There are typically two types of vinyl: peel & stick and click & lock.  Peel & stick will stick directly to the concrete or whatever subfloor you currently have while click & lock is a floating floor.

  1. Do you need something easy on your joints?

While wood and tile floors may seem like better choices at first, many people are beginning to choose vinyl.  This is because vinyl has a more comfortable surface that is conducive to areas where you will be standing for a long time such as bathrooms or kitchens.

If you’re looking for more information to assist you with choosing a floor material, check out a few of our other articles on the subject:

Hardwood VS Laminate

Hardwood VS Carpet

Bamboo Flooring

Have some thoughts about vinyl as a flooring option?  Comment below, we would love to hear from you.


Dream Kitchen Design Ideas

The kitchen is the heartbeat of the home and as such the design is incredibly important.  Your custom dream home should come with a dream kitchen 8where you can gather with your friends and family to converse and make food together.  If you’re trying to decide what a dream kitchen should have then keep reading some of our favorite tips to spark your imagination.



If your kitchen is large enough for an island, this is an essential part of a smoothly functioning kitchen, not just as a station for preparing food but also as a storage space.  In a small kitchen, the island can be mobile with wheels that can be locked and unlocked and wheeled out of the way when necessary while a larger kitchen can have a more traditional fixed island with much more storage space.  Perhaps you might even consider a raised bar on one side where your kids can grab a quick breakfast or after school snack.


Think about the counter placement, often when you bring groceries home, you’ll want to place the items that need to be refrigerated near the fridge.  This counter can be either across from or next to the refrigerator.

Choose a countertop that is durable and easy to clean, this will make your life much easier.  If you’re curious about which counter materials to choose, you might want to check out our article on granite vs corian countertops.


Where do you plan to keep your appliances, utensils, dishes, pots and pans?  Think this through while designing your cabinet space and be prepared to think creatively.  Are you an avid coffee drinker?  A drawer located just under where your coffee maker will sit with all your mugs neatly stored inside could save you time and energy when brewing your morning cup.  Maybe you want to keep your counters free of clutter and plan to store your appliances, are the cabinets tall enough?  Have you decided whether you will be installing custom or prefab cabinets?

Trash & Recycling

This is not something that most people think about when designing their kitchen, but where you keep your trash and recycling bins is very important, will it be a drawer that slides out from beside your fridge?  Under the sink?  In the pantry?

Talk over your ideas with your custom home designer or architect, they will be able to point out problem areas as well as give you great ideas.  Have you considered using Pinterest to help you design your kitchen?

What Should I Ask Before Building a Home?

If you’re thinking of building a new home, it can be a daunting decision to make.  It’s easy to get caught up in the stress and details, but it’s important to remember that designing your dream home is not something that you can approach without being prepared to embark on a journey of discovery.  This is the place where you will rest, dream, live, eat, work, and much more.  Whether you’re sharing the space or living solo, you will have to consider every possible angle.  Before you toss away your computer in frustration, we’ve put together a few questions to consider which will help you to better understand the choices that you’ll need to make.

Where do you want your house to be located?

Considering where to purchase land for your house is a complicated decision, you’ll need to consider your budget, the value of the land, and the projected value in the coming years.

What is your budget?

The budget for building a house must include things such as: land, constructing a house, architect, engineer, running plumbing and electricity (if your land is outside of a city, this could be a bit complicated… or not), taxes, landscaping, decorating, and furniture.  Be sure to keep little extra “emergency” money in your budget so that when (not if!) things cost more than you budgeted, you’ll have enough money set aside to keep the project going.

Discuss your budget thoroughly with your custom home builder so that they understand exactly how to help you.

What is your plan A?

In a perfect world, what do you plan to have happen and when?

What is your plan B?

Plan A may or may not work out, but a plan B is a must so that if plan A does fall through, you have a back-up strategy in place.

Who is going to help you?

Sure, you’ll need a custom home builder, and they can help suggest experts in their network to assist you, but you’ll also want to do some personal research to see if you find a home designer or architect whose work you just love, or a landscaper that you can’t live without.

What questions have you asked yourself before beginning to design a home?  Drop us a comment below, we’d love to hear from you!

Fresh Laundry Room Design Ideas

In the past, laundry rooms were often an afterthought when designing a dream home.  Recently, they have been making an appearance alongside the kitchen as an essential part of your house that should also be given proper attention with ease of use and aesthetic appeal in mind.



If you’re stumped on ideas for your custom home’s laundry room design, here are our favorites to get you started.

  1. Floors that are durable and easy to clean.

Laundry rooms are going to see a lot of use and the floor needs to be durable and easy to quickly clean.  Large tiles in a pattern that doesn’t show dirt are a great option for this room.  Wood flooring isn’t always a good choice for laundry rooms because of the chance of flooding but you can get tiles with the look of wood.  Or get a little crazy and choose a fun, bold pattern for your flooring.

  1. Install a sink.

Every laundry room should have a sink in which to wash delicates, pre-soak stains, or to clean up.  If you’re only going to do one thing for your laundry room, install a large easy-to-clean sink.

  1. Make your laundry room your mudroom.

If you’ve planned to have a mudroom in your house, this could be the perfect place to serve double-duty and be your laundry room as well.  This keeps the mess in one place and swimsuits, muddy boots and clothes, can all stay in this space instead of being tracked through the house.

  1. Thoughtful cabinetry and shelving.

Plenty of shelving is essential for your laundry room.  These are for storing clean linens, laundry supplies, laundry baskets, and other odds and ends you’ll want to keep in the laundry room.  The laundry room is a great place to store your ironing board or even in which to iron, install a long rod where you can hang freshly washed clothing that needs to air dry as well as just ironed clothing to keep it from wrinkling while you finish the job.

  1. Windows to let in natural light.

Natural light is a beautiful addition to any laundry room, if you have the option of putting in a window or two, go for it!  You’re going to be in and out of this room with laundry and ironing, and natural light will keep it from feeling stuffy or cave-like.

What is your favorite design idea for laundry rooms?  Share in a comment below, we’d love to hear from you.

Is Home Automation for Me?

We’ve spent quite some time talking about windows these past few weeks, we’re going to head in a completely different direction now and dive into modern houses: the smart home.  Home automation is a system that allows homeowners to directly connect and control their home through their tablet, smartphone, and control panel installed in their home.  The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University has predicted that the number two trend for residential remodeling in the next 5-10 years will be home automation.  This will include but is not limited to heating and air conditioning, lighting, and security.



Affordability is a concern of many homeowners, but if you look at the trends from five years ago, home automation was only for million-dollar homes, now less expensive homes are also tapping into home automation because it is becoming more practical and affordable.

Why Should I Choose Home Automation?

A smart home can take over many of the functions of your other smart and dumb devices: it can wake you up in the morning, turn on the TV with your morning viewing choices, turn electronics off and security systems on when you leave the house.  When you return home, the security will deactivate itself and lights and AC or heating will turn to their normal temperatures.  It’s convenient for everyone, saving on your personal energy, utility bills, and protecting your home.  When you go out of town, you can monitor your home from your computer, smartphone, or tablet.  This can be had for under $10,000 and work with over 6,000 different electronic devices.

Can I DIY Home Automation?

DIY smart home options exist with companies such as Nest who make smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, thermostat climate controls that are based on your personal schedule and can save 15-25% on your utility bills.  These products are easy to install and cost under $260.

What is the Cost of Home Automation?

A smart home system can cost anywhere from $200 to $200,000, it all depends on your desires and needs.  Some people simply want smart lights and thermostat climate control, others want all of the shades in their home to be automated as well as lighting scenes and surveillance cameras.  The installation of a smart home system doesn’t have to be for your entire house, you can install it one room at a time and add on rooms as your budget allows.  It is also not an intensive installation which means that a lot of digging into your walls and foundation is not required, no matter the age of your home.