What's hot: High-tech with soft touch
Expecting to plant a "For Sale" sign in the front yard
any time soon? Whether the target date for listing your home on the market is
a few months or a few years away -- or whether you simply like to make decisions
with an eye toward the future -- you may well be wondering how putting some money
into the house now will pay off later.
trends in home improvement feature environmentally friendly living, recycled products,
and high-tech innovation -- all in a warm and inviting space.
Judging by the number of television
shows devoted to the subject, it seems like
nearly everyone is interested in remodeling
or renovating their home. In some ways, it's
reasonable: Two-thirds of owner-occupied homes
are at least 25 years old, research by the
Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing
Studies found -- and that means there are
millions of homes in need of an update.
To find out what's popular -- and what's
not -- in the world of home improvements, we talked to several architects and
designers to find out what trends they were seeing in the home renovation market.
old is new again
Old houses might need updates, but a bit of
the space's original character can remain,
says Robin Wilson, CEO of Robin Wilson Home.
Antique doors, lighting, hardware and floors
can be preserved and restored to their former
glory, even while adding the latest technology
and materials. It might be time to ditch the
fake wood paneling in the rec room, but the
wide-plank hardwood floors in the den can
be refinished to give an old room new sheen.
Recycled products are also making
their way into home renovations: Kitchen countertops
can be made from recycled aluminum, glass
and even paper. Kitchen and bathroom sinks
are made from recycled aluminum and bronze.
Even the stuff you don't see in a home renovation
-- such as insulation -- can include a significant
percentage of recycled materials.
While recycled products have
been around for some time, there's been a
surge in interest, says Eric Phillips, vice
president and general manager at DreamMaker
Bath and Kitchen in Apex, N.C. Prices have
come down and aesthetics have improved. "You
don't have to sacrifice form or function for
these products," he says.
There's a growing interest in environmentally friendly
renovations -- which makes both ecological and economic sense. "People understand
that using green products and systems can make their home more energy efficient
and improve indoor air quality," says Maureen Ness, a project architect
at the Minneapolis architecture and interior design firm LHB. "It saves
money and makes their house healthier."
Phillips notes that people are
beginning to choose eucalyptus woods, a fast-growing
tree with wood that can be used for flooring
and countertops. Water-saving devices in washers
and toilets and energy-saving products from
lighting to Energy Star appliances are getting
a boost as well.