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Designing Your Ideal Home: A Room-By-Room Guide

Designing Your Ideal Home: A Room-By-Room Guide
By Flow Wall
August 22, 2016

Home design is ever evolving. Styles and preferences are constantly shifting depending on the look du jour and the personal lifestyle of a home's inhabitants. Before we take a look at current home design trends, let's take a jaunt into home design history to see how far we've come by way of paint colors, furniture fashions, and house architecture.

How the Ideal Home Has Changed

The 1980's home loved to be swathed in big window treatments, dressed in floral wallpaper, and covered in pastel wall-to-wall carpeting. In the kitchen, the small island was topped in laminate and the floors were vinyl. Don't forget the sunken conversation pits in the living room or the dizzying narrow spiral staircases leading to a basement family room! The 1990's home boasted breakfast bars, bay windows, and oak staircase balusters. Hunter green was the color of choice (along with the primary colors) and sponge-painted walls and murals were all the rage. Other popular items included wicker furniture, faux foliage, and huge entertainment centers. In the kitchen, you saw tiled counter tops and hanging cabinetry above a peninsula. This is also the decade where the 3-car garage made its debut. The 2000's home was all about the beige paint, oil-rubbed bronze fixtures, and granite counter tops. This decade also brought us stainless steel appliances, accent walls, laminate and engineered wood flooring, vessel sinks, and pendant lighting. DIY home improvement and decorating became extremely popular and digital gear downsized enough to fit in your pocket, introducing the home to technology as we now enjoy it. Now that we've reflected on the design of homes past, let's take a look at the design of homes present, room by room.

Kitchen & Dining Room

Throughout the decades, the kitchen has remained the heart of the home where everyone gathers to cook, eat, and visit with one another. To accommodate this tradition, formal dining rooms have all but disappeared. In their place are expansive islands and multi-use spaces. "I design fewer formal dining rooms these days and instead I design what I'll call ‚Äòadjustable formality' dining rooms. These rooms can function well for casual family dining but can also host a dinner party. These dining areas are often adjacent to the kitchen and open to it as well as to other living spaces." William J. Hirsch, Jr, author of Designing Your Perfect House

Since formal dining rooms have become less popular, the style of kitchens runs the gamut between rustic farmhouse and commercial-style gourmet. However, there are a few trends that stand out. "Our clients are looking for ways to make their kitchen pop by using custom-tiled backsplashes."  Tiffany Willson of Roomhints"A new feature of the modern kitchen is fixtures and fittings that are barely visible or are completely hidden from view."Jason Roberts of My Handyman Services

"I am seeing a return to the use of brass in finishes ranging from polished to tarnished. The color range has updated to include rose gold as well." -Peter Czekan of Hetman, Inc Other on-trend kitchen items include flat-panel and two-toned cabinets, deep drawers to store pots and pans out of sight, built-in wine storage, and high-tech appliances. 

Bathroom & Powder Room

The bathrooms are another area of the house that has undergone a serious style upgrade. Designed to feel more like living spaces and to encourage relaxation, they now include deep soaking tubs, marble counter tops and floors, and a tone-on-tone color scheme that focuses on texture and natural elements.

"We are designing larger and more spa-like showers with body sprays and rain heads that are doorless and threshold free."-William J. Hirsch, Jr, author of Designing Your Perfect House"In general, we are seeing a lot of space in the bathrooms. They have become very open with skylights and lots of windows for natural light during the day and ambient light for evening."-Denise W. of Decor Aid On the other hand, in main floor powder rooms, bold is the way to go! Statement lighting above a statement mirror hung on statement wallpaper has become the new norm. 


Bedrooms now come with a lot more built-in storage solutions. Walk-in closets are bigger and customized shelving systems keep everything tidy. In terms of style, feature walls covered in beautiful wallpaper or reclaimed wood are very popular as are light pendants or sconces flanking the bedside. Using only a few furnishings and decor items are key to achieving the much-desired minimalist look.

Living Room, Family Room, and Media Room

Many homeowners are opting out of formal living rooms and instead are utilizing an open floor plan, focusing on a larger family living area. To accommodate for the heavy use of entertaining family and friends, these rooms incorporate outdoor-grade fabric for furniture upholstery and rugs. "Wall-to-wall carpeting has finally become a thing of the past! Whether people choose traditional parquet flooring or rustic-looking stripped boards for a contemporary look, the natural wood flooring trend is continuing."-Victoria Stepanov of Sense of Space With the evolution of high-end electronics came the emergence of the new media room. Fitted with drop-down screens and projectors, surround sound speakers, and top-end gaming systems, these rooms are built for fun. Media rooms are perfect for the basement, if the house's design allows for one. With the media room, and other amenities, it has become a great spot for entertaining guests. "Basement bars can function as an informal eating place and as a space for hosting friends. Permanent fixtures equipped with a sink and refrigerator add a fantastic flavor to a basement." - Elizabeth of Source Capital Funding, Inc. and Texas Hard Money

Home Office


Many homeowners these days request a dedicated home office. "Working homeowners do not want to use a bedroom [as a home office]. They want a dedicated space, preferably on the first floor, separated from the living/family room and dining room." -Debbie Wiener of Designing Solutions"Upgraded power sources to utilize today's IT advancements is an important consideration when designing a den." -Eric Tovar of Churchhill Classics

Entryway, Mudroom, Hallway, and Laundry Room

Even in storage areas, people want all their things tucked away out of site for a streamlined, clean look. "Cabinets are out. Large walk-in closets throughout the home are in." -Debbie Wiener of Designing Solutions "Mud lockers are an important element. They offer a beautiful, built-in storage space where everyone has a place to put their bags, sports equipment, etc. The added storage space creates a daily convenience for homebuyers." -Lee Crowder 

In laundry rooms, counters have grown longer, colors have become richer, and pets are now welcome with convenient pet-washing stations. The decor of these rooms now visually flow into the rest of the home with designer tile and lighting fixtures. 

Outdoor Living Space

Just as desirable as interior square footage, exterior space has become a top request from home buyers and home re-modelers. Coveted for both relaxation and entertainment, these areas add not only square feet to your property, but much enjoyment as well. "One trend we have seen is a balance and blend of indoor and outdoor amenities. From large floor-to-ceiling windows that slide open to mini courtyards that have indoor/outdoor gardens, modern consumers prefer their homes to have a connection with nature as it is proven to reduce stress and improve quality of life."-Elizabeth of Source Capital Funding, Inc.

"The outdoor kitchen is now an essential room of the house, enabling families to expand their entertainment space. New outdoor kitchens have burners, pizza ovens, wine refrigerators, sinks, and dishwashers. Overhead infrared heating extends the usable season. Versatile, customized, and high-end appliances, cabinetry, and countertops replicate the beauty, refinement, and utility of their indoor counterparts." -Denise W. of Decor Aid To allow for water-wise practices, xeriscaping requires little or no water irrigation. Collecting rainwater into rain barrels has also become a popular way to reduce water usage. 


Now oversized, garages have become the store-it-all space for every tool and toy. With dedicated spots for recycling bins, bikes, and lawn mowers, garages keep even unsightly things tidy. But who says it needs to be unsightly? Garages have become just as colorfully and creatively designed as any other room in the house. "One new trend that is popular among families is transforming a garage into a multi-use facility with a workspace or semi-outdoor den." -Elizabeth of Source Capital Funding, Inc. Other unconventional ways homeowners are using their garage include a dance/yoga studio, playroom, crafting cave, or music studio. 

Upcoming House Design Trends

There are a variety of upcoming trends for house design, many of which are focused around three specific categories: technological advancements, environmentally friendly components, and multi-generational living.

Technological Advancements

"I have noticed a trend with creating models from blueprints in order to understand the design in 3D before building it." -Vincent S. of Relentless Designs "Today's home should be wired and ready for every conceivable component - indoors and out." - Debbie Wiener of Designing Solutions"You can now control lights, AV equipment, security, and even heating and cooling in your home from an app on your mobile device. It's definitely the way to go!" -Victoria Stepanov of Sense of Space

Environmentally Friendly Components

"Almost all of my clients are wanting a healthy house. They want good indoor air quality, limited off-gassing of chemicals, and low environmental impact." -William J. Hirsch, Jr, author of Designing Your Perfect House

"People want to know that the materials that comprise their home and furnishings come from sustainable sources and are not harmful to the environment."-Nathan Berber of Atkar

Multi-Generational Living

"Multi-generational living is a big trend in new construction. Driving this trend is the desire to accommodate elderly parents or adult children without the pitfalls of living together. These multi-generational homes have two entrances, separate living areas, and a first-floor master bedroom." Lisa Quale of Lisa Quale Interiors "Remodel projects often focus on making the existing house easier to live in as seniors. Modifications include adding a ground-floor master bedroom suite and removing accessibility barriers."-William J. Hirsch, Jr, author of Designing Your Perfect House Finally, when designing your house, take your family's lifestyle into consideration and invest in quality products. Let simplicity, balance, and harmony reign. When you do, you'll be able to achieve your ideal home.