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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

Top 3 ways to check for hidden leaks

Uncommon and hidden leaks are the ones that tend to sneak up on homeowners and wreak a lot of havoc.

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Photo by Dan Smedley from Unsplash.com

Four Seasons Plumbing, a family-owned and -operated plumbing company serving the Asheville and Hendersonville areas, understands the toll that slow leaks and difficult-to-spot plumbing issues can take on a home. This summer, the company is offering homeowners tips to identify leaks early and take action before they result in costly damage.

“Uncommon and hidden leaks are the ones that tend to sneak up on homeowners and wreak a lot of havoc,” said Max Rose, owner of Four Seasons Plumbing. “It often takes noticing a water bill that’s higher than usual or finding a visible puddle on the floor to begin asking questions, and there could already be a lot of damage by that point.”

Max and the team at Four Seasons offer these tricks to help identify potential water leaks:

  • Check your water meter: Start by turning off all appliances in the house dependent on water, such as faucets, dishwashers, washing machines, etc. After waiting for an hour, monitor any changes to the meter. If the meter continues to change, you may have a leak in your system that could require the attention of a licensed, insured professional.
  • Add food coloring to your toilet tank: Toilets account for a considerable amount of water usage in the home. By adding food coloring to your toilet tank, you can monitor the bowl to see if there is any seepage from the tank in-between flushes. A leaking toilet can run unnoticed, and it can significantly impact a water bill with time.
  • Look for discoloration on ceilings and walls: By keeping an eye out for any browning or discoloration on ceilings and walls, you can be proactive in identifying leaks before they become detrimental.

By intentionally setting aside some time to practice these few simple steps, homeowners can save themselves thousands of dollars in repairs in the long run. Leaks can go unnoticed for weeks, months, or even years, resulting in costly damage to a home’s structure.

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Home Care

Add storage and seating to your patio

According to landscape designer, Doug Scott, storage is something a lot of people forget about when designing an outdoor living space.

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Photo by Sonnie Hiles from Unsplash.com

Whether you’re grilling, gardening or simply lounging in the backyard, it’s important to have the tools, supplies and equipment you need close at hand. Unfortunately, finding a convenient place to store everything is a challenge many homeowners face.

According to landscape designer, Doug Scott, storage is something a lot of people forget about when designing an outdoor living space.

“Whether it’s gardening tools and supplies, outdoor furniture cushions, or a random collection of toys, almost everything we do outdoors comes with stuff,” Scott said. “And it’s not always convenient to go back inside and get those things.”

Scott has partnered with Exmark on a new Done-In-A-Weekend Projects video that shows homeowners how to build a dual-purpose outdoor storage bench that offers convenient on-patio storage. It also provides comfortable outdoor seating for family and guests.

“It’s really the best for both form and function,” Scott said.

While it’s possible to build the exterior of the outdoor storage bench from several wood options, Scott said untreated cedar is a good choice, for several reasons. It’s attractive and is naturally rot-resistant, so staining or painting the storage bench is an option, not a requirement.

The interior of the storage box is built from a combination of plywood, pine boards and decking board, secured with a combination of wood screws, wood glue and exterior construction adhesive.

Scott said the outdoor storage bench is a project that most folks can complete in one to two days, but he recommends enlisting the help of a friend or family member, which can cut the project time in half.

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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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