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Top 10 home trends for 2021

As people rethink their homes’ functionality after spending more time in them, features we never knew we needed — such as a home gym or no-touch appliances — are more important than ever.

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Photo by @betagamma from Unsplash.com

We’ve all been there this year — toddlers interrupting Zoom meetings, daydreaming (or Zillow Surfing!) for more space, and shamelessly feeding sourdough starter kits. 2020 has changed the way we live in and outside our homes.

As people rethink their homes’ functionality after spending more time in them, features we never knew we needed — such as a home gym or no-touch appliances — are more important than ever. While public health precautions continue to keep us at home, these features will only become more popular to create spaces that keep our families safe, all while providing an oasis of comfort.

Driven by this new COVID era, Zillow shares top 10 home trends for 2021 that will not only add comfort, but might even add extra value to your home.

‘Zoom Rooms’

A Zillow survey found a desire for a home with a dedicated office tops the list of reasons why Americans working from home say they would consider a move, if they were to continue working remotely at least occasionally. In 2021, people will receive more clarity from their employers about the ability to telecommute moving forward, which could trigger a move to a home with more space.  And, as people tire of working from a kitchen table, they will be wanting a more permanent — and quiet — solution for their at-home desk.

As of November, the number of listings mentioned “home office” or “Zoom room” increased by 48.5% compared to the same time last year. Pennsylvania home builder Berks Homes also says requests for an at-home study in lieu of existing living space more than doubled this year.

‘Homecation’ Amenities

With lots of time and nowhere to go, homeowners are coming up with creative solutions to create vacation-vibes right at home. “Pool” was the top Zillow keyword search term in 2020. “Waterfront” and “dock” also landed in the top ten. Additionally, homeowners may be looking for big and small ways to create a luxury experience at home, from upgrading to a spa-like bathtub or relaxing rain shower. Zillow research shows home buyers paid more for amenities that make their home feel like a retreat. Listings that mentioned a free-standing tub typically sold for 5.5% more than expected, while the listing keyword “spa-inspired” contributed to a 1.8% price premium.

The rise of remote work will allow more homeowners to turn their favorite vacation destination into their hometown. Page views of for-sale listings in areas typically considered vacation destinations – such as Key West, the Jersey Shore and Cape Cod — are up nearly 50% compared to last year.

Intergenerational Living 

Intergenerational living will rise in popularity as young adults and grandparents alike find themselves moving in with family for financial and health reasons. According to Generations United, about one in six Americans currently live in multigenerational households, and this year, the share of young people moving back home reached all-time highs as more Millennials and Gen Z’ers than ever – particularly renters – found themselves packing their bags and moving back in with their parents.

Katie Detwiler, Chief Experience Officer at Berks Homes says this trend is manifesting in how people are designing new construction homes, with more requests than ever before for a finished basement with a full bathroom, and bedroom additions.

Gourmet Kitchens

This year inspired people to break out of their old baking habits and start new hobbies in the kitchen, and in 2021 homeowners will want to level-up from their sourdough obsession to create other culinary masterpieces. A previous Zillow survey1 finds 41% of people value a well-equipped kitchen more than before as a result of social distancing recommendations — and more people will want the space to show off their new culinary skills in the next year.

“We’ve seen an increase in requests for gourmet kitchens,” says Katie Detwiler, Berks Homes’ Chief Experience Officer. “This includes bigger cabinets and island additions so homeowners have the space they need to cook their gourmet meals.” Berks Homes has seen more than 100 more requests for alternate kitchens and island additions this year compared to last.

Backyard Oasis

A yard that is safe and functional has taken on renewed importance — a Zillow survey from the Harris Poll2 found that 41% of people say they value a large outdoor space more as a result of social distancing recommendations.

There are many easy upgrades to make a backyard a relaxing oasis the whole family can enjoy, and in tandem, increase the resale value of your home. Zillow research finds homes mentioning “firepit” in the listing sold for 2.8% more than similar homes, and “outdoor kitchen” sold for 4.5% more. Smart sprinkler systems and outdoor lighting are other features that add a contemporary flare to a backyard that also help your home sell up to 15 days faster than expected.

Smart and Safe Tech

It’s more vital than ever that our homes stay as germ-free as possible, and smart-home technology has come to save the day, with products like touchless appliances, self-cleaning toilets and bidets. And while a lot of these products are niche right now, they will evolve to become the standard in home design. Next year as homeowners can start welcoming guests back inside, they will increasingly seek out creative solutions to keep their spaces as germ-free and chic as possible. 

“Our tech-driven appliances, solid surfaces and smart fixtures have come to the rescue,” says Kerrie Kelly, Zillow home design expert and founder of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab. “Features like voice-activated faucets, robotic vacuums, and electronic-assistant controlled lights have updated the traditional tasks of cooking and cleaning by incorporating thoughtful innovation into home products.”

Smart home technology is becoming increasingly appealing to buyers. A Zillow analysis  found that listings mentioning a smart light in their listing description sold seven days faster than expected, and listings mentioning a smart thermostat sold 6 days faster than expected. Features like a shiny, new touchless faucet will rise in popularity as homeowners prioritize the cleanliness of their home to keep their families safe and germ-free.

Small City Living

Increased opportunity for remote work has pushed many home shoppers to reconsider how and where they want to live. Since there is less need to be close to urban job centers, shoppers in 2021 may opt for wide open spaces and smaller, more affordable communities. This trend is already playing out in search traffic data.

Small cities, such as Borger, Texas, Pierre, S.D. and Vernal, Utah, accounted for the greatest year-over-year growth in out-of-town search traffic, and a dozen markets such as Pierre, SD, Jackson, WY and Hudson, NY saw out-of-town search traffic double this year. Newly pending sales for small cities (population between 54,000 and 137,000) is up 34.3% since last year, and have seen positive year-over-year pending sales since July. Small city living will only continue to rise as telework becomes more permanent and open up homeownership opportunities for renters.

Health and Wellness at Home

People across the country quickly adapted to rapidly changing restrictions, creating fitness clubs or mental wellness spaces in their homes. In November, 4.1% of for-sale listings on Zillow mentioned health and wellness areas in the home. Listings that mentioned “health and wellness” increased starting in summer, peaking in November as lockdown orders resumed and daylight took away precious daylight hours for outdoor activities.

But it’s not just physical health homeowners are prioritizing. The isolation from social activities and loved ones will increase the need for more-private “feng shui” areas — spaces for reflection and meditation to stay mentally fit, as well. Berks Homes have seen floor plans adding an extra bedroom over a garage or in their basement increase this year. These additional private spaces may start to become meditation rooms, or a quiet room to escape the chaos of life.

Pet-Friendly Living

The flexibility of remote work gave many people the opportunity to be home all day, and in turn, made it easier to add a new best friend to their family. According to a Nielsen survey, 20% of respondents in July said they adopted one or more dogs or cats between March and June, up from less than 5% over the same time last year. An increase in furry friends joining families means “pet-friendly” rentals are on the rise, as landlords entice renters with added benefits. Zillow research3 found that 73.1% of rental listings allow pets.

As people welcome more furry family members, Zillow expects they will be looking for pet-friendly features in their next home. A 2020 Zillow analysis found for-sale listings mentioning a pet shower or dog wash in their listing description sold for 5.1% more than similar homes, while listings mentioning a fenced backyard in their listing description sold 6.8 days faster than expected.

Rise in Demand for New Construction

Traffic for new construction homes has increased significantly on Zillow4, up 82% in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter a year ago, signaling an increasing number of shoppers interested in personalizing their home’s features and living in a new, clean space. A 2020 Zillow survey found5 more than a quarter of buyers who bought a new construction home did so to customize home features, while 37% chose new construction because everything in the home was new and never used.

Home Care

Modern kitchen and bath upgrades

Modernizing your spaces isn’t just about the aesthetic, although that is a major advantage, especially when it comes to resale value. Updating your kitchen and bath is also an opportunity to introduce new technology and enhancements that improve the function of these high-traffic rooms.

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Upgrades happen for all kinds of reasons, but one of the most common purposes of a home renovation is to make essential spaces like kitchens and bathrooms more modern.

Modernizing your spaces isn’t just about the aesthetic, although that is a major advantage, especially when it comes to resale value. Updating your kitchen and bath is also an opportunity to introduce new technology and enhancements that improve the function of these high-traffic rooms.

Modern styles simplify everyday living and can make contemporary entertaining more enjoyable. The sleek lines of modern design lend themselves to a clean look, which is supported by hidden features that make organization easier.

Smart Technology

Although the idea of a connected home isn’t new, technology is steadily improving. This means smart features are now often more affordable, easily integrated into the rest of your home and available to help manage a wider range of household items.

In the kitchen, you can add smart technology in numerous ways, from appliances and climate control to lighting and window treatments. For example, touch-to-open and push-to-open doors and drawers create a sleek, modern design while opening and closing with either a push or touch of a button for convenience.

Similar diversity is available in the bathroom, where you can incorporate connected health and fitness monitors, touchless toilets, mirrors that double as information centers, towel warmers and even showers that automatically adjust to your preferred temperature.

Paint

Changing the colors in a space is one of the most effective ways to transform the decor, but the walls aren’t the only place where paint can make a big impact, especially in rooms like the kitchen or bathroom, where the cabinetry can make a bold statement.

Black is a hallmark of modern design and installing cabinetry with a black finish can instantly upgrade a room. To create visual interest, consider incorporating accent cabinets in a coordinating finish. For example, you could pair Wellborn Cabinet’s Midtown wall cabinets finished in Matte Ebony with upper center cabinets finished in Putty Oak. An island in Bel-Air can incorporate both dark and light tones for a cohesive look.

Decorative Range Hoods

An exposed range hood is a trendy look that can add sophistication to your kitchen. Treating this functional element as a statement piece gives you another place to showcase your style and create a sleek and modern look. If your hood is covered, consider making the cabinet door a focal point with a material such as back-painted glass.

Multi-Purpose Sinks

While your sink has some obvious functions, you can upgrade the space for even more practical use. Some of the latest sink design innovations include built-in features such as cutting boards, colanders, bowls, drying racks and compost areas. In addition, motion activated wastebaskets with separate compost or recycling containers provide hands-free access to reduce unwanted messes.

Touchless Faucets

Public restrooms aren’t the only places you can benefit from a touchless faucet. At home, the feature may come in handy when your hands are full or filthy. An automatic water flow is convenient and can help keep germs and grime under control. For the most on-trend, modern look, coordinate your faucets with other bathroom elements finished in gold hues, such as a laminate veneer vanity in a high-gloss gold finish.

Cabinetry

Collectively, cabinets are the biggest component of most kitchens. Since kitchens tend to be the hub of the home, it’s important to maintain a homey feel while adding the luxury of modern features. Using warm colors, gold-toned hardware and sleek door styles can deliver a glamorous yet welcoming design.

For example, Wellborn Cabinet’s Aspire Full Access Frameless line features flat moulding and flush lines to create a thoughtfully integrated flow throughout the kitchen. A Morristown door in the Smokey Walnut finish and Serenity metal doors in Sand Gloss Glass marry heirloom quality and contemporary finishes for a beautiful and functional space.

Free-Standing Tubs

A luxurious soaking tub is a top demand for many homeowners, and trends are moving toward free-standing options that create a focal point in an oasis-like bathroom. You may be envisioning an old-fashioned claw-foot style, but there are numerous modern takes on the traditional version that can fit seamlessly into your modern design scheme.

Wood-Look Flooring

Natural wood floors were once the gold standard, but thanks to improvements in the quality and appearance of laminate and vinyl products, you can find alternative flooring in even high-end homes. Laminate and vinyl planks give the same look as wood (or stone, if you prefer) to complement a modern aesthetic, usually at a lower price point and with greater durability over time.

Find more ideas to modernize your living space at wellborn.com.

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Home Care

Home upgrades for better indoor air quality

With proper upgrades, adjustments and care, you can enjoy a home filled with fresh, healthy air and comfortable surroundings year-round.

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Photo by @grtshw from Unsplash.com

When most people think about air quality, they’re typically thinking about outdoor pollution. However, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the air inside your home can be as polluted, or even more so, than the air outside. The concentrations of some indoor pollutants can be as much as 2-5 times higher than typical outdoor concentrations.

This is partly due to increasingly energy-efficient home construction and the growing use of synthetic materials in furnishings and interior finishes.

The air inside your home also contains pollutants from everyday activities like cooking, bathing and cleaning. A family of four can produce the equivalent of 22-30 pounds of moisture per day from normal activities, according to the Institute of Specialist Surveyors and Engineers, while household cleaners and products like paint, upholstery, carpeting and plastics can release chemicals containing volatile organic compounds. Pets and dust mites also contribute to poor air quality.

On average, people spend an estimated 90% of their time indoors, according to the EPA. All that time with minimal access to daylight and fresh air can take a toll on your health. For example, damp and moldy environments can increase the risk of developing asthma by up to 40%, according to research published by the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics.

Particularly after all the extra time at home due to the pandemic, homeowners are placing greater emphasis on home design and habits that promote health and wellness. These steps for managing indoor air quality can help you create a healthier home.

Support your HVAC system

Many homeowners assume their heating and cooling (HVAC) system is adequate to manage their home’s indoor air quality. Typically, these systems only circulate existing indoor air, so you’re missing out on the benefits of circulating fresher, cleaner air.

What’s more, without regular servicing and frequent filter replacements, it’s easy for standard HVAC systems to fall short. This is especially true in older homes or in households where there’s a high volume of allergens like dust or pet dander. Adding standalone or integrated devices can help give your HVAC system some extra support. Air purifiers can effectively help filter pollutants while ultraviolet lights purify the air and help control pollutants like bacteria, mold and mildew.

Another common pitfall is humidity control. Too much moisture in the air can contribute to significant air quality problems. On the other hand, air that’s too dry can promote dusty, abrasive conditions that are hard on allergies and other respiratory conditions.

Improve fresh air ventilation

When it comes to upgrades that improve air quality, better fresh air ventilation is near the top of the list for many homeowners. Improved ventilation allows you to clear out stale, polluted indoor air and circulate fresh, outdoor air in your home.

Polluted air tends to stagnate at the ceiling, so one effective and energy-efficient way to create natural ventilation is with skylights that open. Sometimes called venting or operable skylights, when you open skylights in combination with vertical windows, you create natural airflow that can help release indoor air pollutants and bring in fresh, clean air to keep your home healthy and pleasant. This concept is known as the chimney effect. Warm air naturally rises and escapes from open skylights while fresh air is drawn inside through the windows. This practice can reduce your reliance on air conditioning, improving your home’s overall efficiency and keeping a lid on cooling costs.

Today’s skylights can also be automated to open and close at regular intervals or extend and retract shades to block light as needed. Many models, including those from Velux, can even connect to a smartphone app to combine convenience with a soothing mood booster that supports health and wellness.

Keep up with cleaning

Textiles like carpeting, rugs and window treatments can harbor a great deal of dust and dander that reduces air quality. It’s important to regularly clean and air out these decorative fabrics and surfaces, especially thick carpet that is likely to host dust mites and bacteria. Remember air quality while you’re cleaning, too, and opt for cleaning products with fewer chemicals. When possible, use microfiber cloths and natural materials like white vinegar and soap flakes.

Avoid adding to the problem

Burning a candle may make a room smell fresh and clean, but it’s doing little to help improve your air quality. In fact, you’re just masking unappealing odors while releasing harmful particles into the air. Similarly, smoking indoors traps those chemicals inside your home, which can wreak havoc on indoor air quality.

Watch for unexpected culprits

Many of the things that contribute to poor indoor air quality are obvious, but there are many others that may surprise you. For example, cooking food using gas appliances can emit hazardous chemicals and compounds, like nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide, that contribute to poor indoor climates when not properly ventilated. Homes with gas stoves contain 50-400% higher concentrations of nitrogen dioxide than those with electric stoves, according to a report from the Rocky Mountain Institute, and the EPA found prolonged exposure to the gas can lead to asthma and other respiratory issues.

Similarly, when plastics are warmed up, they can give off potentially toxic fumes. Avoid leaving toys or other plastic items in direct sunlight. If you have heated floors or other heated surfaces, keep plastic away to prevent those heat-provoked emissions.

With proper upgrades, adjustments and care, you can enjoy a home filled with fresh, healthy air and comfortable surroundings year-round.

Learn more at whyskylights.com.

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Home Care

Things to know when shopping for a generator

Consumers want and need reliable power. When the electricity goes out, gen­erators keep your home or business humming with light and power.

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Increasingly, consumers are turning to generators for power in emergency situations, because the world is unpredictable. Year-round weather challenges are now the norm with snow, ice, wind, tornadoes, hurricanes and record-breaking rain and flooding occurring throughout the year and no longer just confined to a season.

“Consumers want and need reliable power. When the electricity goes out, gen­erators keep your home or business humming with light and power,” said Kris Kiser, President and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI). 

Kiser added: “Today’s generators offer a variety of features, and there is a product for every need. While shopping for your generator, consider other equipment that could be useful in cleaning up after challenging weather such as a water pump, chain saw or pole pruner. And don’t forget outdoor-rated extension cords and fuel cans.”

Tips from OPEI for safe generator use:

  • Consider what you need. When purchasing a generator, determine how many kilowatts are needed for essential items (charging family cell phones, a refrigerator, etc.) during an emergency.
  • Research generators online before you buy. Talk with the staff at the store or ask questions online. Discuss safety features and ask about manufacturer fueling and care instructions. Generators offer a variety of features. Circuit-breaker-protected outlets will guard against generator overload. A larger fuel tank will provide extra running time. Integrated fuel gauges will help keep tabs on fuel levels and prevent power interruptions. Low tone mufflers make for quieter operation. Fold-down handles and wheels can make it easier to move your generator.
  • Keep an outdoor-rated extension cord on hand. Be sure it is long enough to place the generator a safe distance from your home, and is certified to carry the generator’s power load.
  • Identify where you will put the generator. Place the generator outside and away from windows, doors, and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors. Never put a generator in your home, garage, porch or breezeway. Give portable generators plenty of room for ventilation. Determine now how you will secure the generator.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector. Add this safety device to your home and be sure to keep extra batteries on hand for it.
  • Keep generators dry. Before a storm hits, identify how to cover and vent the generator. Buy model-specific tents or generator covers online, at home centers or a hardware store.
  • Have the right fuel on hand before a storm hits. Use an appropriate container designed to hold fuel that seals well.
  • Store fuel in a safe place away from heat sources and out of the reach of children. Label the can with the date of purchase and the ethanol content. Check filled cans regularly and replenish them if needed. Remember fuel more than 30 days old should not be used in any outdoor power equipment and can phase separate.
  • Use the type of fuel recommended by the generator manufacturer. It is illegal to use any fuel with more than 10% ethanol in outdoor power equipment.

For safety information and to find out which manufacturers make various outdoor power equipment products, go to www.opei.org.

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