Vol 7 No. 4 - October 18, 2006

New buyers determine home styles
By Louise Bolger
sun staff writer

There’s certainly been enough doom and gloom in this column and everywhere else during the past few weeks, so it’s time to lighten things up. If you’re into real estate, you’re also into design and decorating, so let’s examine what the latest trends are that will help you make choices contributing the most value to your home.

Home styles are fascinating to study. They ebb and flow with each new generation of home buyers and, not surprisingly, what’s old is new again. Two-story Florida homes have certainly been commonplace for the past decade at least, but they were usually Key West or Spanish-style. Now, however, old-world styles are gaining in popularity. French, English and Tuscan are popping up in builder’s models, spot building and renovations.

The Hyde Park area in Tampa has many original Craftsman style homes, a style popular in the early 1900s. The deep eaves, tapered columns and wide trim distinctive in this style are starting to reappear in many parts of the country. And don’t discount the retro look of Florida’s ranch style homes. Their simple design is perfect for first time home buyers interested in remodeling with a clean, young modern look.

Front porches, screened and covered patios are and will continue to be popular especially in Florida. Outdoor fireplaces are also popping up everywhere to warm you on those chilly winter nights.

Floor plans have both new and traditional elements. Surprisingly, about 9’ 11" ceiling heights are the most popular. Two- story ceilings are out, partly because of wasted energy and a desire for a cozy warmer space. Formal dining rooms are still in demand, but not formal living rooms. An open kitchen-family-great room is still popular, and either cabinet space or wall space for televisions is required. Three-car garages, especially in regions without basements, are becoming more of a necessity than a luxury.

Everyone is still into kitchens with functional storage space, double sinks and an extra refrigerator and dishwasher in a butler’s pantry. Stainless steel is still in as are concealed appliances. Using antique tables or cabinets for kitchen and bath cabinets is a great look, however, using granite, marble or stone countertops on 1980s cabinets are not. The newest tile look for kitchen backsplashes and bathrooms are 3” x 6" subway tiles that run horizontally.

In keeping with the popular European look, wide baseboards and door and window trim are in, as well as rustic finishes on hardware. Rustic wood beams and coffered ceilings with decorative inserts are back as well as distressed wood floors.

Laminate floors that look like wood are out, as are heavily textured walls and popcorn ceilings. Faux finishes are out. Flat paint is in, shinny is out. Soft colors are in with bold colors used only for accent.

Heavy drapes are out; light cotton, linen or silk are in. Mini blinds are very yesterday but wood blinds have made a comeback.

Bathroom sinks should be glass bowls, granite stone, stainless or china; cultured marble is out. Also free-standing tubs are in, as are pedestal and wall hung lavatories.

Last but not least, energy efficiency is definitely in. High efficiency air conditioning, good insulation, programmable thermostats, double pane windows and ceiling fans are all in. Stick on window film is out.

These are just a few things to keep in mind if you’re making changes to your home. Do what’s practical for you and don’t worry about the rest. Remember, no one’s house is perfect. Time for me to get going on the popcorn ceiling. I knew there was a reason I never looked up.

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