“If you build it, they will come.”
I think we’re all familiar with that iconic line from the 1989 blockbuster Field of Dreams, right? Don’t worry, no one is asking you to put a baseball diamond in the middle of a cornfield, but if you’re looking to custom build a home, your friends and family will inevitably want a peek once the process is over — and with home trends constantly evolving, it’s important to avoid dated aesthetics, inefficient building materials, and obsolete design patterns.
Great design starts with great inspiration, so if a new build or home renovation project is in your future, we’re here to help! Recently, we spoke with three local builders for a better idea of what’s in and what’s out in the design world — from a continued focus on outdoor living spaces to a turn away from uber-complicated home technology — for a roundup of trends that are sure to inform and inspire.
Evan Bost, Bost Custom Homes
For more than three decades, Bost Custom Homes has been building luxury, customized homes in the Triangle area. As the director of sales and marketing at Bost Custom Homes, Evan Bost works with clients on the front end, from their first point of contact all the way through the planning and design stage.
“It’s a dynamic business where every project has a unique set of constraints and opportunities,” said Bost. “We help mold the entire scope of the project to fit the clients as best as possible. And that’s just on the plan/design side — we take that fully custom approach throughout the entire framing process. There aren’t a ton of builders around that allow that kind of customization all the way through, from start to finish.”
Contemporary, clean line aesthetics are one of the biggest trends that Bost has seen recently, with many clients expressing interest in minimalism — less interior trim, recessed baseboards, and no casing around doors.
“I would say as far as interior trends, we’re seeing a push more in the direction of geometric patterns and textures and more natural materials,” said Bost. “It’s kind of a blend of millwork and stone and grasscloth wallpaper. It’s all very organic.”
Bost has also noticed a sweeping trend toward outdoor living. Almost every custom house now has an outdoor kitchen setup — a full grill, sink, refrigerator, trash pull out, you name it — all just a few steps away from the indoors.
“People are still interested in first-floor living, keeping as much essential daily living on the main level and minimizing steps,” said Bost. “We’re seeing more people trending toward smaller footprints, and they’ve got more budget for the pool and the outdoor living and the landscaping. So we see them shrinking the house down, but expanding the living space outside of the house.”
In the smaller plans that are trending, formal dining rooms are going away for the most part. The dedicated movie theaters aren’t nearly as popular now as they were 15 years ago, but those spaces are being replaced with a second study or den.
“A lot of people are working from home, so we’re definitely building at least one study in every house, which is kind of like a secluded office space, but we are doing some homes that have two offices,” said Bost. “They tend to be separated — one upstairs, one downstairs, so they are completely isolated from each other. A lot of floor plan design now is thinking through those types of living situations.”
Jon Rufty, Owner and President, Rufty Homes
With Jon Rufty at the helm, Rufty Homes has been in business for 33 years focusing on upper-end custom homes and remodeling luxury residences in Raleigh, Cary, and the rest of Wake County. Known for their client involvement and one-of-a-kind projects, Rufty is very familiar with the ever-evolving list of clients’ wants and needs, influenced by everything from the pandemic to the weather.
“It all comes down to creating an environment that you want your family to grow up in,” said Rufty. “It really has a lot to do with your personal lifestyle, how you want to live, entertain, and interact with your family as it grows.”
When it comes to the biggest design trends he’s seen, Rufty says it’s all trending toward lightness and brightness — more windows, higher ceilings, 3000K LED lighting (a crisp, brighter color), and seamless transitions between indoor and outdoor spaces.
“Indoor/outdoor living is tremendously important these days,” said Rufty. “In the past, there have been a lot of homes built with basements, but now people don’t want to walk down 15 steps to get to a swimming pool or an entertainment area. So we’ve seen a big demand for non-basement lots where you can walk out of your living area, step down one or two steps, and be at a large terrace with the pool, fireplace, gathering areas, outdoor cooking, etc. Or they are willing to go to the expense of raising the swimming pool up to the main level, despite having a basement lot.”
Covered cooking areas on the back porch have also become a huge trend due to upgrades in screen technology, where you can push a button and the screens go up and down according to your needs.
“In addition to the screens, you can also have vinyl that comes down, and it’s a clear vinyl so our clients can completely avoid pollen season,” said Rufty. “You can have both of them on the same porch, so the space is usable year round for Christmas parties or Thanksgiving, regardless of what the weather is.”
Water features are no longer relegated to the outdoors — fountains and ponds have made their way inside, as well. Plant walls — roughly 3 or 4 feet wide and 5 to 6 feet tall — have also become a huge trend in the design world. Bringing the outside in and maintaining a live green wall requires its own type of water feature, says Rufty, who has installed indoor automatic watering systems to keep plants looking gorgeously green.
According to Rufty, another notable interior trend is a big emphasis on the kitchen — with more and more bars for easy entertaining, multiple dishwashers, waterfall countertops, and built-in wine coolers in lieu of wine rooms.
Mike Madariaga, Owner, Deep South Building Company
As a small, boutique-style builder primarily based in Wake Forest, Deep South Building Company focuses on low-volume, high-quality builds, priding themselves on being ahead of the curve as far as trends go.
“Obviously there’s trends, but we also like to start our own,” said Madariaga. “Our first farmhouse-style home was actually a parade home in 2012, years before that look became popular.”
One of the biggest trends is blurring the line between indoor and outdoor living, says Madariaga, something they have been doing for years with large expanses of glass. Brighter, more natural-looking homes are definitely on the rise, marked by the continuity of white walls and pale colored wood.
“For the interiors, I’m noticing what I call a Cali-cool type of vibe, so real light on the woods and more of a more organic feel,” said Madariaga. “It’s almost like a very white interior and the colors come from the furnishings. So gone are the list of homes where you’ve got like eight different interior colors and it’s just kind of calico cat-like. There’s definitely more quartz than granite, because once again it’s kind of more light and organic instead of blotchy and all over the place.”
Although two-story living rooms are a thing of the past, ceilings are getting a little higher and much prettier to look at. Trending ceiling treatments include mirrors, timeless moldings, wallpaper, and much more. But the biggest trend by far? Pools, says Madariaga.
“We went from maybe 10% of homes having pools to now it’s solidly over 50%,” said Madariaga. “Just the willingness to spend substantial dollars outside is incredible. The amount of disposable income to throw at that is maybe a result of being pent up — they just want to create their own experience at home. Can you blame them?”
- Pocket, folding, and accordion-style doors
- Phantom screen rollers and clear vinyl
- Infinity pools
- Secondary suites with private entrance
- Slate roofs
- Overly complicated, expensive home technology
- Outdoor steps/high decks
- Multiple interior colors
- Dedicated wine rooms/movie theaters
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