Spotlight on the Top Design Trends

Best in American Living Awards highlight the top design trends for 2018.

A remarkable 129 interior design, single-family, multifamily, remodeling, and community projects were honored at the 2017 Best in American Living™ Awards (BALA) ceremony held during the NAHB International Builders’ Show in Orlando.

Judges awarded eight Best in Region, five Of the Year and two Judges’ Discretionary awards. In addition, one Game Changer award was given as well as one “Wow!” award, a special award given to a project with a one-of-a-kind design detail. These projects represent the nation’s best in home and community design, interior design and remodeling.

BALA winners showcase top design trends that home buyers can expect to see in homes and communities over the next several years.

Overall, homes showcased blurred lines between commercial and residential materials and between single-family and multifamily details. There is also a shift towards more modern architecture but with understandable forms, like roof peaks and row homes with traditional scaling. This year featured many more trends, among them:

  • Clean details. Winners favored clean and simple lines and detailing over their ornate counterparts, making homes feel fresh and uncluttered.
  • Open but defined floor plans. By changing materials, adding columns or changing ceiling heights, open floor plans have evolved to include added definition. This creates more function and order for home owners who, in the past, may have struggled to best organize and use vast, open spaces.
  • Metal and wood exterior details. Particularly on single-family homes, winners showed an increased usage of metal and wood, often combining the two materials to create interesting and unique two-tone facades on both traditional and contemporary-style homes.
  • More developed regional styles. In both single-family and multifamily projects, strong regional styles have emerged. For example, in Michigan, expect to see familiar peaked roof, layered facades and sturdy columns.
  • Restored and repurposed. Historic preservation and restoration as well as adaptive reuse projects are increasingly popular with multifamily designers and developers. Adaptive reuse projects can be particularly chic and sought-after by millennials.
  • Whites, grays and charcoal paints. Gray is still trending with home buyers, and white is in it for the long haul. There is also an increase in monochromatic designs that incorporate multiple textures. For example, a white kitchen with quartzite countertops, a white shiplap ceiling, white cabinets and airy white window coverings creates a clean and multi-layer look that is guaranteed to compliment itself.
  • Right-sized kitchens. Double islands are appearing infrequently, and single-islands are designed to be smaller and proportionally sized with the kitchen and adjoining rooms.
  • Spa-like baths. Bath design is trending toward refinement and sophistication, creating an atmosphere that is reminiscent of hotel or resort baths. Tasteful and luxurious are the two words that will define baths in 2018. Also look for floating (wall-hung) vanities and stand-alone tubs.

Learn More. More information about this year’s winners and trends can be found online at!

The National Association of Home Builders is a Washington-based trade association representing more than 140,000 members involved in home building, remodeling, multifamily construction, property management, subcontracting, design, housing finance, building product manufacturing and other aspects of residential and light commercial construction. NAHB is affiliated with 700 state and local home builders associations around the country. NAHB’s builder members will construct about 80 percent of the new housing units projected for this year.