Town & Country Fall 2017: Open concepts

Annual home tour showcases latest trends

As more and more people are looking into selling their home and taking advantage of the favorable market conditions, the question of whether to buy a preexisting home or build a new one begins to take shape. Many of the newer features desired by home owners are most readily achieved by choosing a design from a local builder and choosing exactly the floor plan and design which will best serve a family’s needs and lifestyle.

The time has never been better to take on a project like this, according to many inside the industry.

“Interest rates are historically low so consumers have more confidence in the last couple of years,” says Maurine Holle, Executive Director, Home Builders Association of Fort Wayne, Inc. “When the housing market crashed, people weren’t very comfortable putting money out there to build a new home. But in the last few years, we’re building back up to where now we’re at about 60 percent of what we were before the downturn.”

Holle notes that now there’s a growing demand for labor to build the homes, and there’s a push to go into schools to encourage students to consider a career in construction. Tyler Kees, director of business development for Quality Crafted Homes, echoes Holle’s thoughts.
“We are looking at the schools more now and trying to get the word out that there are good trade jobs available, jobs that are in-demand and pay well.”

Kees says that the key reasons people look to home building now has been the same for the past five years.

“People are looking for an ease of lifestyle, open concept living.”
Jamie Lancia, vice-president of Lancia Homes, which has six homes in this year’s Town & Country tour, agrees that open designs are what are preferred for families with a variety of needs.

“Every family’s need is a little bit different,” he says. “But people are looking for an open floor plan, whether it’s triangular or more linear. They’re looking for high ceilings and spaciousness. There’s also a great demand for a third car garage to the point where that’s almost becoming standard in the industry.”

The kitchen, which is the hub of every home, also provides options depending on the lifestyle of the family which resides in it.

“There are a couple of considerations when you’re looking at a kitchen,” says Lancia. “There are issues of style and design then there’s functionality. But some of the specifics change depending on whether it’s a family with smaller children or if it’s empty-nesters who might be interested in entertaining. So those needs vary greatly even in some smaller details. Some people might like a window over the sink so they can look outside while they stand at the sink. Other people like to have the sink in the island. Or maybe they want to have seating around that island. But the kitchen really is the focal point of a home.”

With appliances, Lancia says stainless steel remains popular, but he expects a new product to take off when it’s available this fall.

“GE is coming out with a new black slate matte for their appliances in the fourth quarter, and I expect that to be very, very popular. The matte surfaces are popular with families who have small children because they’re fingerprint resistant. But if you don’t have children, then the stainless steel appliances remain very popular.”

As Lancia suggests, kitchen islands remain popular, with Tyler Kees agreeing that every home they build now has one. But there are a lot of details which have become essential to those who are building from scratch.

“Hard surface flooring is definitely the trend now,” says Jhonelle Kees design consultant for Quality Crafted Homes. “And that’s throughout the entire house. There’s not as much carpet or soft flooring as we used to see. Laminate and engineered wood are the most prevalent design choices now. Solid surface countertops are also big in every room – kitchen, bathroom, wet bar. That trend has really been escalating in the last two years or so.”

Full walk in tile showers are also very popular as is painted cabinetry, primarily whites that provide that open, clean look. But there’s one other need that Kees says she has seen grow in recent years – walk-in pantries.

“These rooms are now huge,” she says. “People want them to be big enough to hold a deep freeze, and we have people who want mixing stations in there now so they have to have outlets. Pantries are now their own room.”

In addition to trends in layout and design of new homes, security issues are another reason new homes provide peace of mind to homebuyers.

“We now include smart home technology in all of the Lancia homes,” says Lancia. “It provides security and links in the thermostat, the garage door and front door. So if you’ve left the door unlocked, you’ll receive a text message and you can get on your tablet and take care of that.”

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