The winners of the Best in American Living Awards (BALA) demonstrate that good design is not limited to high-priced homes - and they're also a preview of design trends home buyers will see over the next several years, according to the judges who reviewed the entries in the annual competition of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
Sixty-five single-family homes, apartments and condos, remodeling projects and subdivisions were honored at a gala dinner Tuesday, Jan. 22 during the International Builders' Show in Las Vegas.
"The BALA winners have always shown that they are at the forefront of innovative design, and this year is no different," said Skip Howes, 2012 design committee chair and president of Scott Homes Ltd. in Woodland Park, Colo. "We are proud to recognize these companies and individuals for their creative and forward-thinking approaches to their work. These winners are at the leading edge of home design trends."
Some of the trends seen in the winners include:
High-quality detailing: Regardless of home size, buyers want authentic, high-quality detailing in all aspects of the home, noted the judges. A majority of these details reflected historic and more traditional styles of architecture that focus on appropriate scale, relative proportions and accurate sizing of elements in relationship to the overall composition.
Bathroom style and features: Bathrooms are becoming more compact while maintaining an open feeling. This is accomplished by eliminating extra walls, adding transparent glass enclosures and reducing the amount of unused floor space between fixtures. In addition, both master and guest bathrooms are taking on a spa-like vibe through the use of natural light and airy colors as well as minimal clutter.
Kitchens features: The kitchen remains at the top of the home buyer's priority list. The judges said they are seeing Carrara marble, cooking hearths and intricate light fixtures this year. "Mega-islands" are also popular, providing an area for prepping a meal, cooking and socializing with guests.
Rooms with different specialties: Specialty rooms such as outdoor cooking spaces, wine rooms and pet-friendly spaces are finding their way into traditional floor plans, said the judges. Other specialty rooms are outdoors. Often, owners will have a secondary cooking space and eating area outdoors that further extends their living area. Those with more modest budgets still look for more square footage by adding some type of outdoor fire feature, which allows use of those spaces year-round in most climates.
Lighting that illuminates: The judges said that spaces with lots of natural light are being enhanced by intricate lighting fixtures, like crystal chandeliers. Lighting provides a great opportunity for a designer to add texture and color to a room.
Ceiling treatments: The judges agreed that it's not just about what to put on the walls and the floors anymore. Thoughtful material and pattern choices for ceiling treatments can change the feel of the room. Adding color can add drama and warmth to the room while tray ceilings, barrel vaults and coffers add depth and texture.
Multi-generational living options live on: The judges said they are seeing flexible floor plans with multiple master bedrooms and space to put in elevators. Universal design is becoming stylish through open floor plans and curbless showers. Additionally, remodeling projects are including design elements that allow for home owners to age in place. This year's entries shifted emphasis from 50+ housing to more integrated communities with universal design features.
To see examples of these winning home designs, visit www.nahb.org/bala.