With home sales remaining strong as 2016 unfolds, it’s good timing to update or remodel, according to Rochester Area Builders Inc., a professional organization of commercial and residential builders, remodelers, developers, and associated businesses.
Even if your budget is tight, you can make small changes that will bring a fresh look to your home—and that may lure buyers if this is the year you plan to sell, says RAB Executive Director John Eischen.
Here’s a look at what’s hot and what’s not in home design and remodeling trends for 2016.
“Grays are very popular right now,” says Julie Domaille of Edina Realty Rochester.
Diane Quinn, owner of Beyond Kitchens, is seeing a lot of grays and off-whites as well. Walls, trim, and cabinetry can get a neutral makeover, too.
“The trends in 2016 for tile, countertops, and carpet will continue to be in the gray tones,” agrees Missy Bakken of DeGeus Carpets Plus.
Even pale pinks and blues are solid neutral choices, says Jennifer Maass, store manager at Gerhards—The Kitchen & Bath Store.
If you’re building, go minimal, recommends Karen L. Blissenbach, ASID, design principal at Design Studio B in Rochester, and incoming 2017 president of Rochester Area Builders. “Stay a bit smaller but go with top-notch upgrades. In the long run, it will be a lot more satisfying to have a smaller, well-built house with all the amenities rather than a great big empty box with below-par finishes and fixtures,” she says. “If you can afford both, go for it.”
Other changes you can make for 2016: Replace carpeting with hardwood floors or custom carpeting throughout your home. Keep organization at the forefront by including pullouts, custom spice storage, and specialized tray and cookware storage in the kitchen. Consider swapping out regular closet doors with French doors or sliding barnwood doors for better access and style.
Websites and apps, including Houzz and Pinterest, are eroding boundaries, Blissenbach says. “With a few clicks, you can see what’s trending anywhere and take the guesswork out,” she says. On the other hand, the Rochester region tends to play it more safe—Midwest mild, if you will—and often chooses materials or patterns for longevity, not style, Maass notes.
Quinn agrees. “Rochester is very aware of current styles,” she says. “But extreme contemporary styles are not seen as much here as they are on the coasts.”
Are there any really big changes from 2015 trends (which included soaking tubs, expanding outdoor living, and creating specialty rooms)?
Quinn, who attended the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, held in conjunction with the National Kitchen and Bath Association in late January, says the biggest change is in texture—“from matte countertop finishes, deeply textured 3D tiles, etched laminates, and my favorite, large-format graphic artistic tiles used as art in specific locations.”
Other trends gaining in popularity this year include moving your laundry room to be near bedrooms, converting formal dining spaces into anything except for dining, and dark wood floors, Blissenbach says.
“Soaking tubs are still popular this year, especially free-standing,” Maass says. “Walk-in showers are even bigger this year. Most homeowners want an age-adaptable space that is usable, maybe a little fancy with body jets, multiple shower heads, luxury tile. Homeowners are not afraid anymore to ask for grab bars or accessible spaces—thankfully the stigma associated with aging is lifting.”
What’s out of style for 2016?
Say goodbye to oil-rubbed bronze finishes (although its appeal still lingers for some), boxy fireplaces (think horizontal instead), small-format tiles (such as mosaic tiles, and 12×12 and 4×4 square tiles), and carved, decorative detail, designers say. Clean, simple lines and calming spaces are trending.
How can average homeowners keep up with what sometimes seems like fickle trends?
Don’t feel obligated to try to keep up with every trend, especially if it doesn’t suit your needs or style, Blissenbach cautions. “Be consistent with the style and finishes throughout your home, at least per level,” she says. “Don’t try out different things just because it’s in. Do what is right for the home and hire a professional to do it well.”
If you do plan to sell your home, though, consider removing or scaling back on unique personality and focusing on neutrality. “Your goal when selling your home is to have the potential new owner be able to visualize their own possessions in the home,” Quinn says. “Painting the rooms with a neutral color palette is the first thing I would do, along with decluttering and organizing.”
And Maass points out that just because something is trendy doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to incorporate into your home. “The pallet wood wall you see on Pinterest might look great, but will it translate to other buyers? Use fun and eclectic accessories to personalize your space, while keeping the backdrop neutral,” she says. “This way a potential buyer … isn’t thinking about how much work they’ll have to do if they bought the house.”
How long will it take for a trendy remodel to become
If you like to keep your home stylish, you may worry about making big investments in remodeling year after year to keep pace with what’s trending. That’s where trendy accessories and pieces come in, Quinn says.
“Maintain neutral colors in your architectural details, like cabinets and trim,” she says, “and use trendy pieces as accessories, such as bright-colored towels, artwork, and lamps.”
You shouldn’t need to overhaul your house every year anyway. “A well-planned remodel should be a solid investment for at least 10 to 15 years,” Blissenbach says. “If you know your own style and likes, you’re not going to reinvent what you are attracted to every other year. Trust yourself and don’t get too caught up in trends. Change the simple parts, and pieces like paint and maybe flooring.”
And some styles are enduring, Maass says. “White-painted cabinetry can last for years,” she notes. “Teal-painted cabinetry with stainless accents—while it may be something you love—could run its course in a few years’ time. Make smart selections—invest in quality materials that will stand up to the abuse of a family, and you’ll be happy for a long time.”
Speaking of selling, how is the housing market faring in Southeast Minnesota?
“Remodeling is very hot right now,” Quinn says. “This is a reflection of the re-sale market being very hot, and homeowners see the value in updating and maintaining their home.”
According to the Southeast Minnesota Association of Realtors, home sales in Rochester were up by 24 percent in 2015 from the previous year.
Maass is still a bit conservative about sales. “I feel that Rochester has improved but has stayed fairly flat,” Maass says. “We talk with more homeowners about remodeling than new construction. Our trades do not have qualified workers because so many have left the construction industry, which is hurting our growth in Rochester. It would be great to see renewed interest in the residential market, where currently—and for years to come—the area will be concentrating on commercial growth tied to Destination Medical Center.”
What are some other specific trends for 2016?
“We are still seeing a lot of modern, industrial, farmhouse looks, using reclaimed materials—weathered barn wood is still hot,” Blissenbach says. “Coffee bars or dedicated coffee stations are finding their own niche in the kitchen areas.”
Also huge now are updated laundry rooms and mudrooms, Quinn says. These specialty rooms give families a place to store backpacks, coats, shoes, and sports equipment, and they also often serve as a communication hub, featuring message centers, calendars, and charging stations.
“Many times the laundry is moving out of this mudroom area and closer to the bedrooms, where most of the laundry is generated,” she says. “Moving the laundry area is a trend that is just starting to get hot. We are seeing a movement toward smaller, more-efficient laundry equipment that will fit anywhere, including dryers that don’t require venting. This advance in laundry technology and consumer acceptance will fuel that trend.”
Jennifer Gangloff is a freelance editor and writer in Rochester.