2018 Outlook: Home Design Trends



Looking toward 2018, I thought it would be interesting to first look back a decade to see what was trending in home design in 2008, at the start of the Great Recession. The economy, jobs, wages, and the size of homes were all contracting. Home sizes, like companies, were “downsizing”. Before the crash, normal floor plans with spaces like Great Rooms, Cafés (or Breakfast Nooks), and formal Living and Dining Rooms had become smartly condensed into “Everyday Living” spaces with an open kitchen. Tubs in shrinking Master Bathrooms were removed to accommodate larger showers. These floor plan trends began to stick back then and are still preferred by most buyers today.

Over the past 10 years the pendulum has started to swing back, with plans starting to slowly grow larger again. Space gained through consolidation has translated to larger Kitchens, Outdoor Living Areas, Walk-In Closets, and Storage. Evolving plan drivers are more focused on enhancing the living experience within the home. Here’s a look forward at new design trends progressing into next year.



Buyers are spending more time outdoors, enjoying time with family and friends. Covered outdoor living spaces today are designed the way we design interior living rooms, with comfortable outdoor furniture and TVs. Some include gas fireplaces, outdoor bars, grills for cooking, and dining areas. 2018 trends include painting the color of the exterior living space walls the same color as the interior, not the color of the siding, and also extending the flooring from the inside to the outside. Eliminate the barrier between the indoors and outdoors with large, pocketing sliding glass or folding doors. Buyers love the openness of the two spaces, and they perceive the combined usable spaces as higher value.




Buyers still prefer large kitchen islands, especially with seating. But now that Kitchens are open to the Everyday Living spaces, countertop clutter needs to be hidden. Buyers love to show off their high-tech appliances, but not the coffee maker, can opener, blender, etc. So next year our floor plans are including “Sculleries” or “Small Appliance Pantries”. They replace the same space Butler Pantries used to and provide extra countertop preparation space and cabinet storage too.







Storage ranks high on buyers preference surveys. In new floor plans, we provide small signature spaces for buyers to use as they please. Only utilizing 48-64 square feet, or 6’x8’ to 8’x8’, these small spaces can be used for a hobby room, luggage storage, wine room/cellar, home tech closet, shopping club storage, pet suite, or any other use a homeowner can imagine.






Who would want to buy a new home with a tight, cramped, and undersized laundry room? Or have no place to store the vacuum or Swiffer? Buyers love the expanded functional space of Domestic Suites, especially when they are conveniently connected to a Master Closet for easy access. The Domestic Suite should have enough counter space to the left of the washer/dryer to sort clothes and countertops to the right for folding and ironing. It should also provide a clothes rod for “delicates” to air dry. In your suite, include a broom and vacuum closet with an outlet for recharging; include shelves for household cleaners. Use the extra cabinetry in the room for extra household storage (batteries, flashlights, tape, scissors, lightbulbs, etc.), and use the wall space for dry goods shelving. There is an opportunity to impress buyers if the room can be made large enough for a small work island or hobby desk. The Domestic Suite can also double as a Pet Suite. Well-designed and planned utility spaces add tremendous value to the home and they can be scaled for all home sizes.




Formal Living Rooms were once seldom used, however new floor plans have evolved by changing the Living Room into a “Flex” room. Buyers now have the option of making these spaces home offices, as the trend over the past decade shows more people are working at home. Flex Rooms are still a 2018 trend, which gives buyers the option to “office” somewhere else in the house and use the flex room as an office or a Guest Bedroom.

A home office does not necessarily have to be in the default location in front of the house. Often the homeowner benefits from a more private location, out of view from guests. 2018 trends include smaller home offices, called Pocket Offices, because bookcases, file cabinets, and bulky PCs are no longer needed. With laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices, a desk in a small space is sufficient for a printer, router, and basic office needs. These small spaces often hide the “clutter” with barn doors.



Small, detached retreat spaces are a new thing. Modest and remote “getaway” spaces are perfect for that small work-at-home space, a playroom for kids, a media room, a hobby room, or any other use. You do not need to program this space, buyers will do it for you!




96% of Americans shop online, and the majority of those shoppers prefer doing so to save time and avoid crowds. Look at the success of Amazon and how it is changing retail. Wal-Mart is competing, meal delivery programs are consistently becoming popular (Blue Apron and HelloFresh), and prescriptions can now be delivered right to your door. Most people seem uncomfortable by Amazon Key, Amazon’s new electronic feature that temporarily unlocks your door for the delivery to be placed in your home and then locks the door again when the delivery driver leaves, all while you watch from a security camera. However, there is a better way to guard against “porch pirates”. As a safer solution, with just a little extra wall width, a wall-mounted package drop vault ($440) can be installed on a front porch or near the foyer.




There is not enough space in this article to go into all the exciting new things for 2018, but technology is certainly making an impact on every aspect of design and construction. As technology continues to grow and influence everyday lifestyles, it will provide us with more modern conveniences and spaces to enjoy with family and friends for the next decade to come.

Download the full PDF: Design Trends 2018

Indoor-Outdoor Design: Tips and Trends

Fall is here, and for Florida and much of the South that means it’s time to take life outside. From barbecues to relaxing by the pool, our backyards, porches, and decks become an extension of our home. While not all indoor-outdoor spaces are created equal, implementing smart design elements can quickly maximize the backyard of your new home or next remodel project.

A great example of a high-performing indoor-outdoor space is our Palazzo Lago home in Windermere, Florida (pictured below). The home was the winner of the Grand Award – Custom Home in the 2013 Orlando Parade of Homes and Orlando Life magazine’s 2013 Home of the Year runner-up. Palazzo Lago was also featured in the August 2015 edition of Hearth & Home in the articles “Trends in the Outdoor Room” and “Seamless Indoor-Outdoor Living.” Here are a few ways we make sure a backyard functions as a great living space:


Indoor-Outdoor Living Trends


A Smooth Indoor-Outdoor Transition

To create a seamless indoor-outdoor space, a covered hard roof area is essential. Incorporating a portion of your deck or patio under a hard roof will offer functional relief from sun and drain and will also serve as a transition space from inside to outside.

Don’t think of the outdoors as a separate part of your home. Rather, blend it further with the indoors by minimizing the visual and physical barriers between the two. Many homeowners are replacing their aluminum sliding glass doors with folding glass doors. These doors open all the way to maximize the sense of openness. This easily accessible area can now become an outdoor living room with cushioned furnishings, ceiling fans, and intentional lighting. As such, plan your covered patio or lanai large enough to comfortably fit an outdoor furniture arrangement.


Palazzo Lago Custom Home - Porch


A Resort-Style Pool in Your Own Backyard

In recent years, residential pool construction trends have aimed at adding a resort feel to pools. Spillover spas, fountain jets, and waterfalls are today’s slides and diving boards of years past. Additionally, attention is paid as much to the layout of the surrounding deck space as to the water itself. For example, deck size is key. The target deck-to-water ratio should be 3:1. Also, plan your furniture layout ahead of time to make sure the space works how you envisioned it.

Any pool that transitions from kid time to adult time needs ample storage. Avoid clutter by providing adequate storage space for toys, towels, and cleaning equipment. The size of storage required can vary depending on the number and age of pool users, and how much of the pool maintenance you intend to do yourself. An exterior 4′ x 4′ storage closet, for example, will allow you to conceal unattractive items and secure chemicals.


Indoor-Outdoor Pool and Patio Renovation Orlando FL

Courtyard Comebacks

Backyards aren’t the only space you have for outdoor enjoyment. In some cases, a private, open courtyard can be a great place for a relaxing getaway. Even courtyards as small as 8′ x 8′ provide an intimate al fresco experience. Courtyards can be placed off the master bedroom, in a side yard, or even under a large tree in the front yard. Enhance your courtyard with a wood trellis and a vine, colorful aromatic plants, or a water feature for soothing background sounds. During the cooler months, invite friends into your courtyard as a place to chat over a fire pit, or use it as a romantic place for two.



Design Principles for Aging in Place

Many recent surveys show that homeowners are staying in their homes longer. It could be due to the economy with decreasing home values making it difficult to buy a new home or the cost of assisted living facilities or the desire to continue to live in a familiar environment. Many people who plan to stay in their current home consider remodeling over buying a new one.

If you’re staying put for a while, then a well designed home should accommodate your current needs for comfort and safety and also be designed with enough forethought to evolve with your needs as you grow older or as your lifestyle changes. Aging-in-Place design considers creative solutions for wheelchair users, people that rely on mobility aids such as walkers, or crutches and people with visual or physical impairments.


Aging-in-Place Home Design Features


Consider using these Aging-in-Place design ideas for the ongoing future enjoyment of your home:

Floor Level Changes

  • Minimize change in floor levels. Have the least amount of steps possible. If a ramp is needed, then install one with 12” of length for every inch of rise. For example, if there is an 8” difference in height between floors, than the ramp should be eight feet long.
  • Seniors prefer one level homes over two levels. Stairs can be difficult to climb.
  • The step between the bathroom floor and the shower floor can be inconvenient for wheelchair users. Roll-in showers offer an option – the transition between the bathroom floor and the shower floor is relatively flat – the shower floor slopes from that point down to the drain. This option requires a larger shower to mitigate the shower spray from getting on the bathroom floor. Non-slip tile makes sense for everyone.

Pathway Clearances

  • Hallways and other circulation paths through rooms and around furniture should be between 36”-42” wide. Use this same minimum distance between countertops in a kitchen.
  • All doors should be a minimum of 32” wide with lever handles.



  • Lower the countertops from the typical height of 36” to 32”-34”.
  • Provide roll-under cooktops and sinks. (These are counters with drop-in fixtures at 32”-34” high with knee space below them).
  • Outfit base cabinets with drawers instead of doors. The drawers provide easier access to kitchen items with less bending.
  • Mount built-In wall ovens or microwave ovens at lower heights so the controls are no higher than 48” above the floor.


  • Use an elongated type toilet bowl with the seat 18” above the floor.
  • Provide blocking in the walls for future grab bars between 33”-36” off the bathroom floor. Install the blocking behind the toilet (24” wide), on a wall beside the toilet (42” wide) and in a shower or around a tub.
  • Specialty accessible tubs are available with a seat and they have doors for easy lateral transfers from a mobility device – grab bars are already pre-installed.
  • Sinks heights are determined for each individual’s needs – 32”-34” for wheelchair users or for people of short stature, 36” for people with bad backs.
  • Good lighting helps those with poor vision.

Laundry Rooms

  • Mount shelves at convenient heights for easy access to cleaning supplies.
  • Choose front-load washers and dryers with lower folding counters.


You can make these accessible accommodations by retrofitting your current home, including them in remodeling plans or even in a new custom home design. If you are buying a new home from a homebuilder, ask for these considerations that you are entitled to by law. In any case, work with your design professional to implement these and other universal design principles to ensure the barrier-free use and enjoyment of your home for years to come.


A Dramatic Remodel with Minimal Structural Changes

Orlando Custom Remodel

The Chapin Residence recently underwent a dramatic remodel with minimal structural changes.

The existing kitchen’s cramped walls were removed to open up the space to the new, larger family room with views of the pool. The original laundry room was relocated near the existing garage to provide space for the living room expansion. Additionally, the ceiling in the family room was raised two feet to make room for transom windows above the new French doors, improving the overall scale of the family room.

The kitchen, bathrooms, and bedrooms were also remodeled, including the master suite, complete with walk-in closets and an updated bathroom. The porch was turned into a functional outdoor living space thanks to the addition of a lanai.

For more information on the Chapin custom remodel, please visit the project profile.



Canin Collection: Canin Micro Homes

The Canin Micro Homes respond to a real-world housing shortage of affordable yet desirable products. Achieving densities of 20 to 24 units per acre, the homes range in size from 454 to 1,400 square feet. The designs feature open floor plans, front porches, and customizable options.

Canin Micro Homes

A new frugality is taking shape in the American mindset. A “less is more” attitude based on enhanced quality and attention to detail is reinventing spending patterns, housing choices, and amenity preferences. The Canin Micro Homes, part of the Canin Cottages initiative, are aimed at exploring this “new frugality” by implementing these homes where there is a need for more affordable yet higher-quality housing.

Canin Micro Homes

By attaining higher densities while remaining detached, these homes appeal not only to a wide range of buyers, but also to developers for their higher per-acre return. Additionally for builders, these Micro Homes are perfect for cost-effective systems-built construction.







Canin Associates to Present at the 2015 Southeast Building Conference

On Friday, July 17, 2015, Canin Associates’ Tony Weremeichik will present at the 2015 Southeast Building Conference (SEBC) in Orlando, Florida. Now in its 37th year, the SEBC has been a meeting place for building industry professionals from the areas of contracting, remodeling, architecture, engineering, and development. The three-day conference includes exhibits by more than 265 companies, as well as offering over 40 continuing education credits worth of workshops, panels, and presentations.


SEBC 2015 Canin Associates Architects


The topic of Tony’s presentation will be Buyer Magnets for Gen X, Gen Y, and Boomer. He is scheduled to present on Friday, July 17, at 1:00pm. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more information.



Canin Collection: Paseo Cottages

A new addition to the Canin Collection, the Paseo Cottages, feature unique three-bedroom plans that fit perfectly on 50′ by 50′ lots and achieve a density of 10 units per acre.


We anticipate that the theme in homebuilding for 2015 and 2016 will continue to center around the idea of reaching higher densities in single-family homes. Our Paseo Cottages respond to these modern requirements with three new 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath designs ranging from 1,539 to 1,840 square feet. Situated comfortably on 50’ by 50’ lots, these homes engage the entire yard with strong indoor/outdoor connections throughout the living spaces. While the site 50x50_Lot_SitePlanmay be compact, the homes are anything but. Expansive master bedroom suites feature spa-like baths, while separate domestic suites and generous walk-in closets offer the highest levels of convenience and utility. The open-plan, oversized kitchens offer ample cabinet storage, prep areas, and optional islands for cooking and seating. These beautiful cottages reside on intimate, pedestrian-friendly paseos and have room for three cars on-site (two in the spacious garage and one in the private driveway).





Tips on Achieving Sound Protection in New Homes and Remodels

While at a get-together at a friend’s house, a small group of us were talking in the great room, just outside the guest bathroom. A friend needed to use the bathroom. Our conversation was interrupted by a sudden surprise sprinkle sound—and I’m not so sure it was the faucet. And no, the exhaust fan they depended on could not drown out the sound. When the friend came out, I felt embarrassed for them, for they had no clue it was so audible. Later, I tapped on the door and, as suspected, it was a hollow core door. This is a shame, especially since the house was a luxury home.

I live in a house where the sound from the TV in our family room can be heard through the wall in our master bedroom, even at a modest volume. Sounds easily migrate through metal stud walls and hollow core doors. Normal conversations and sounds can be heard through them; they just simply do not provide enough buffering for sound privacy.

“When it comes to privacy, every dime you spend is worth a dollar.”

Amanda Bowers, The Kearney Companies

Walls and Doors serve three primary purposes: security, visual privacy, and sound privacy. The third purpose is just as important as the first two, yet is often overlooked, or simply ignored for the sake of a cheaper door selection or construction materials.

Home design and building professionals should consider specifying acoustical walls and doors for sound sensitive rooms, with doors and construction materials achieving high STC (Sound Transmission Class) ratings.


Control sound and offer more value in new home construction or remodels, using the following construction guidelines:

  • On a floor plan, use a highlighter marker to identify rooms or areas that require sound privacy or buffering, and highlight the doors and walls surrounding all bedrooms, bathrooms (especially toilet closets) and air conditioning/heater closets or any other room that requires isolation from noise. Include a solid core door with a threshold; doors should not be undercut for venting. Therma-Tru noise reduction doors is one brand that provides an acceptable STC rating of 36;
  • Use wood studs for all interior walls, not metal studs;
  • For best acoustic management, finish walls using National Gypsum Gold Bond® brand 1/2″ SoundBreak® XP® Gypsum Board with Sporgard™ or CertainTeed’s SilentFX Noise-Reducing Gypsum Board or similar specialty wallboard. These high-density gypsum core boards consist of a layer of viscoelastic damping polymer sandwiched between two pieces of high density mold resistant gypsum board, providing constrained layer damping;
  • Also fill the wall cavities with Certainteed NoiseReducer Sound Attenuation Batt Insulation, Owens Corning Sound Attenuation Batts (SAB’s) or mineral wool batts. These provide excellent in-place acoustic performance for interior partition acoustic systems. Depending on the construction method used, SABs can improve Sound Transmission Class (STC) ratings by 4 to 10 dBs.
  • One alternative to the specialty drywall is to use Acoustiblock’s soundproofing membrane attached directly to the wood stud framing, before wallboard is applied. The pliable, 3mm (1/8″) thick Acoustiblok membrane is engineered not to stop or even absorb sound, but through a unique thermodynamic process that reduces sound transmission virtually the same as 24-inches of concrete. A typical 2 x 4 gypsum stud wall is usually 33 to 35 STC. Acoustiblok installed in the 2 x 4 wall is lab certified at an STC of 52, better than 12″ of poured concrete (STC 51).

Acoustic Wall Detail



Do Home Buyers Really Want Smart Home Technology?

As a home designer, for many years I’ve been greatly anticipating a time when we will see useful and affordable electronics as standard items in our homes to make our lives easier–whether they offer convenience or save us money. I am still waiting. Options are all out there; we have the technology, but the costs are not quite attainable yet.  But new cars, at all price points, offer integrated Bluetooth technology, fuel monitoring, navigations systems, WiFi, etc.  The auto industry has responded to consumer demand, so why hasn’t the housing industry done the same?


NESTthermostatPicture2“I want that!” Home electronics and automation selections can be overwhelming. If you have ever researched the latest home technologies, or ever heard a presentation, you may feel like a kid in a candy store as there are boundless options. For most, it’s a dream come true to live in a technologically advanced, fully automated home as if you were George Jetson yourself. You may find you “would really like this” or you “gotta have that”…and the list usually grows.


But home electronics come at a cost, and frugal consideration must be given to home buyers’ needs and the conveniences they are willing to pay for.


What matters to homebuyers? A recent technology survey, “What Home Buyers Really Want,” presented at the 2015 International Builders Show, reveals what ranks at the top of buyer’s tech wish lists:




Since not everyone can afford it all, practicality rules. Level-headedness must prevail. But almost every type of buyer wants at least home security and programmable thermostats.


Millennial buyers seem to be the most tech savvy, but most are not in a financial position to be able to afford extras like central vacuums or lighting control systems. They are fine with their iPad controlled Apple TV and a wireless home theater surround sound system from Best Buy. For the most part, the same is true with the Gen-Xers and Boomers. Simple and easy-to-use gadgets that can be controlled with your smartphone seem to be what’s mainstream now.


Here are a few new, yet attainable, technology ideas that buyers may find to be “must haves” are slowly creeping their way into new homes, and Home Design and Building Professionals must adapt new plan designs to accommodate these needs:


  • Charge Electronics Devices: Most new home designs have a drop zone, a small transitional area where you “Drop” things when you come home, usually located between the garage and the kitchen. This convenient space allows you to drop your keys, purse, phone, mail, etc. on your way in without having to drop it all on the kitchen countertops. Instead of equipping this counter with a normal duplex outlet to recharge your phones, use the new USB Duplex outlets here, which provide two USB plugs for any smartphone charger. Already growing in popularity in hotel rooms, these USB duplexes come in handy behind the nightstands in the bedroom or in the home office as well.
  • Programmable Thermostat: Nest is a Learning Thermostat that learns your schedule, programs itself and can be controlled from your phone. Teach it well and the Nest Thermostat can lower heating and cooling bills up to 20%. ($250,
  • Front Door Locks: The bluetooth-controlled Kēvo is a new way to lock and unlock your front door without a key. Using your smartphone or keychain fob, this smart lock will unlock at the touch of a finger. The smartphone app lets you send e-keys, track entries and lock your home remotely. ($220,
  • Healthy Home:  How much is clean air worth to your buyers? How do you eliminate the unpleasant microscopic, particle-sized pollutants that surround you indoors and how do you remove them from the air you breathe? Innovated in Sweden, Blueair purifiers use HEPASilent® technology to silently and effectively remove triggers like dust mites, allergens, volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), pet dander, mold, cigarette smoke, and more. ($330+,
  • Wrinkle Free Clothes: Save yourself time and money from having to go to the drycleaners, and do it yourself, sans the iron and steamer. Available at Best Buy, Whirlpool’s new Swash is a 10-minute clothing care system ($500, In new home or remodel design, consider a space to store it in the laundry room or master closet, and provide an outlet for it as well.




Home design is constantly changing and evolving to meet the needs and lifestyles of today’s homebuyers – much like the invention of the toilet that launched bathroom design in homes, refrigerators replaced ice boxes and furnaces replaced fireplaces, home electronics are now making a significant impact on the way we live and the way we have to design homes today for tomorrow.



Single-Family Can Be Urban, Too

American housing design is in need of a paradigm shift. Recognizing generational preferences, increasing affordability constraints, and sustainable solutions are needed to start a new chapter in the planning of our cities, especially when it comes to housing. But that doesn’t mean the single-family home is dead. In fact, if we begin to build houses around the principles of density, efficiency, and flexibility, a modern version of the single-family home could bridge the gap between what incentivizes builders and developers, and the new reality faced by many potential homebuyers.

 Single-Family Homes in an Urban EnvironmentSeattle, 1947. Photo © Seattle Municipal Archives


The nation’s changing demographics are a driving force behind a new focus on the often overlooked needs of two explosive market segments: singles in both Gen Y and Baby Boomer cohorts. With over half of all American adults single1, it’s no surprise that 28% of new-home buyers (18% women and 10% men) are single2. Additionally, Generation Y (now between 20 and 34 years old) and Baby Boomers (currently between 50 and 68 years old) make up nearly two-thirds of homebuyers3. While the housing industry has begun looking at the opportunity to serve Baby Boomers, it often fails to completely understand the needs of Gen Y and single buyers.


Singles in the United States


While three-quarters of Americans across all cohorts still prefer to live in single-family detached homes4, it has become difficult for Gen Y and single buyers to find affordable, tailored homes in the current stock of home designs and builder offerings. Financial pressures are increasingly affecting young homebuyers’ decisions. Adjusted median household income has remained virtually unchanged since 19895 and is one of the factors behind increased credit card debt and high student loans. Combined, stagnant earnings and growing personal debt are reducing the buying power of many young Americans, which is reflected in a 12% drop in first-time homebuyer market participation in the past decade6. Because the conventional building model does not take these restrictions into account, it misses out on a large portion of potential homebuyers.


Median Household Income

Changing demographics, increasing financial constraints, and modern preferences create the perfect springboard for a new era of very different single-family offerings. For example, without losing the quality and appeal of a traditional single-family community, micro homes (under 1000 sq. ft.) can create neighborhoods of truly detached single-family homes at densities of over 20 units per acre. For builders, higher densities can mean lower land costs per unit; for developers, micro neighborhoods can yield significant margins in per-acre sales; and for buyers, the ability to afford a detached home can once again become an aspirational reality.


In our site planning tests, we found that micro neighborhood designs can fit between four and six specially-designed homes (ranging from 500 to 900 square feet) onto a quarter-acre lot, allowing for densities of 16, 20, or even 24 units per acre. This model gives developers the ability to create complete, intimate neighborhoods. By limiting the size of the offerings to no more than 20 to 30 homes per neighborhood, it becomes possible to drive rapid absorption by matching demand and opportunity on a finely calibrated scale. Developers can create a sense of buyer urgency with flexible pricing that they can adapt to demand, available inventory, and market pricing.


With diversifying preferences and changing economic conditions, increasing residential density is the next logical step in American home design for builders, developers, municipalities, and, most importantly, buyers. By adapting the single-family home to a more urban context, we can take these considerations into account and create walkable, authentic communities.


[1] Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014
[2] National Associates of Realtors, Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 2011
[3] National Association of Realtors, Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends, 2014
[4] National Association of Realtors, National Community Preference Survey, 2013
[5] US Census Bureau, 2012
[6] National Association of Home Builders, Wall Street Journal, 2014