The International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas showcased some new ideas and also a return to more traditional living. New homeowners continue to discard the formal living room. After all, who wants to buy two sets of living room furniture so the great room concept still reigns for family living. But, the return of the dining room is a surprise. That infrequently used room reserved for holidays still has emotional appeal for those sit-down family dinners they portray on TV and the movies. Or maybe it’s because eating out is becoming more expensive both in dollars and calories so the idea of inviting friends over to share a healthy, home cooked meal is gaining in popularity. For whatever the reason, the formal dining room has returned, although its definition is not necessarily with three or four walls but rather created through lighting, pillars, sculptured sheetrock ceilings and flooring.
The kitchen is still the heart of the home and continues to grow in importance. Kitchen islands have been expanded to seven feet and should always be large enough to seat at least four and are taking the place of the kitchen nook. Builders who build four bedroom homes and don’t put in an island large enough to seat four are missing the whole island concept. In today’s rising new construction costs, no one needs three eating areas. Enlarge the island and turn the kitchen nook into a formal dining room or add the extra space into the great room. Custom homeowners can spend tens of thousands of dollars on cupboards. However, adding a few knobs and pulls, crown molding, under cabinet lighting and three or four glass doors can accomplish almost the same look with a moderately priced cabinet.
And think twice about that exorbitantly expensive colored Viking stove but do add a hood to your five burner, down draft cooktop. The clunky granite backsplash has gone the way of the trash compactor and has been replaced with tile from the counter to bottom of the cabinet. Nowhere at the home show were there Spanish tiles that were so popular five years ago, but now the look is more muted and subdued. It’s almost like the tile or stone itself has replaced color and design.
The master bedroom and bath is the second most important room in a new home. There are literally hundreds of faucets, towel bars, soaking tubs to choose from, but here are some must-have basics that every 2,400 square foot home or larger should have. You may never use the soaker or jetted tub but everyone still wants one plus a double-headed shower. That shower can get pretty expensive if its dimensions don’t fit a preformed plan and requires a custom mud/tiled floor. What’s more important than the floor is that the shower has a tile and glass surround. The plate glass mirror above the double vanities is definitely a thing of the past. Go to Home Depot, Pier I, Pottery Barn or order from Frontgate and chose one you can be proud of and reflects your personal style. They cost less than the plate mirror and look better. Just say ‘no’ to that old fashioned mirror concept. There was not one plate glass mirror in the bath section of the show.
All buyers are looking for more space. The most popular move-up floor plans are 2,400 to 2,600 square feet. In Alaska, the most popular extra space is the daylight or walk-out lower level (also known as a basement). But if your homesite is flat and not sloping, the upstairs family room may be your ticket to extra space. Stacking the second floor over the first floor living area and garage is an economic way to gain space and is less expensive than a basement. The sought after two-story family room should be saved for views only. Instead, consider a ten-foot ceiling and some extra windows to help bring the outdoors in. By adding an upstairs family room, new homes can look pretty boxy without much relief, so it is important to make sure the home has some shakes, rock, board and bat and other details that enhance the exterior elevation. Pillars, extra windows, a glass front door and windows in the garage door can all add to an exterior elevation.