Best in American Living Award Winners Spotlight Design Trends for 2017

From clever storage solutions to colors, this year’s winning projects showcase a variety of prominent design trends expected to pop up in homes and communities over the next several years.

Recently, the NAHB awarded 127 single-family, multifamily, remodeling, and community projects at the 2016 Best in American Living Awards (BALA) ceremony. Held at the 2017 International Builders’ Show in Orlando, the judges conferred awards to projects that represent excellence in home and community design, interior design, and remodeling. The roster included nine regional and five national awards. For the first time, the program also celebrated a “game changer” and a “Wow!” award, two new categories that recognize innovative ideas and unique design details, respectively.

The range of projects showcase a variety of prominent design trends expected to pop-up in homes and communities over the next several years. Across the board, contemporary architecture is growing in popularity, and spreading from the coasts and the Sun Belt to markets considered more “traditional”, according to Bill Sanderson, one of eight BALA judges this year.

“Community planning is being taken to a new level,” said Sue Bady, another BALA judge. “Varied elevations make for more interesting streetscapes. Age-targeted amenities offer something for everyone, and outdoor spaces are designed for active pursuits as well as relaxation. In other words, home buyers have more choices than ever.”

Here are some more trends judges spotted:

  • In both custom and production homes, architects and designers are including benches and nooks. These small spaces serve as chic and practical places to gather with family members, or cozy up with a book.
  • Oversized showers and tubs made a splash with this year’s winners, including luxuriously large free-standing tubs and wall-to-wall glass showers with universal design features.
  • Board and batten is prominent on the exteriors of this year’s class of winners, adding a classic touch to today’s contemporary interiors. Adjusting the width of the boards gives siding a customized, unique feel.
  • In multifamily, custom, and production homes, architects and designers are opting for dark brown or black frames around windows and doors rather than whites to make them pop against light siding. Dark frames add a striking effect from the interior looking out.
  • From traditional homes to modern farmhouses and distinctively modern homes, metal roofs are featured on custom homes across the country.
  • On the subject of modern farmhouses, that style is still a prominent trend. Features including farmhouse sinks, reused wood siding in interior design details and barn doors were heavily sighted in this year’s group of winners. And, barn doors are becoming customized to have a more contemporary feel, including glass, white tints and metal hardware.
  • In new homes and remodels, wood beams left in their original state add a natural touch to homes and create a focal point in interiors.
  • While hardwood has always been a popular flooring choice with homeowners, this year’s winners included an unusual number of homes with natural wood ceilings. Possible to use in both traditional and contemporary-style homes, these ceilings, add warmth.
  • Horizontal shiplap appears inside and outside in many of the winning homes. It’s featured in entry ways, bathrooms, living rooms and more.
  • Many architects and designers repurposed under-stair spaces to include shelving for books and artwork. One winner even included an entire bar under the living room stairs.
  • Multiple kitchens included unique wine storage solutions, such as floor-to-ceiling open or glass-enclosed wine storage, and customized wine racks. One firm married the idea with the under-stair storage trend, and included an extensive wine collection under the stairs with glass doors and display lighting.
  • White-on-white appears universally across homes. Most prominently, the brightening hue is showcased in many of this year’s award-winning kitchens.
Leah Demirjian is assistant editor of design for Custom Home, Builder, and previously, ARCHITECT.