This past Saturday, a friend and I braved the heat and headed out to Homearama Louisville, out in Goshen in the Poplar Woods neighborhood. Even though we are flippers and the homes featured are new builds - this is a showcase for the entirety of the building industry in Louisville, including suppliers, deck companies, shower door manufacturers, and everything in-between. I always make it a point to go to Homearama every summer so I can keep myself current on the design trends and learn some things. When a buyer is looking for a new house, there's a very high likelihood that they have either attended Homearama or regularly stalk Pinterest/HGTV shows, and want in a home what they are seeing as what is "in" now - so, in order to put our completed remodels at the top of their consideration list, we have to replicate that as best as possible. Plus, who doesn't want to look at pretty houses all day? Sign me up!
I thought I'd attempt to collect my thoughts from everything I saw, and compile it into a neat little blog post with some pretty pictures. (Side note: I'm an idiot and took most of my pictures on my Instagram story on Sunday, and didn't save them to my phone. If you saw it, lucky you. But - Anyone know how to retrieve those after they've expired?) So, let's hope I can keep to that and not ramble on and onandonandon. Some things are what I see as design "standards" that have changed within the past couple of years, some are features that were present in almost every house, and some are things that were tried and to me, didn't quite work. These are just my opinions, and someone else may have the opposite opinions I do, and that's fine. At the end of the day, all that matters is that YOU like the house that YOU live in.
Takeaway #1: The ceilings are part of the home's design.
I think every single house (there were 9 in this year's show) incorporated the ceilings as a design element in some of the rooms, especially the main living space. No more flat white ceilings. There were ceilings that used tongue-in-groove paneling or shiplap to create an appealing design, some had coffered ceilings, some had tray ceilings with rope lights, some had wallpaper (my favorite was a teal geometric pattern in an otherwise white "her" master closet, in House #1 by Caliber Homes) and some were just painted an interesting color. I've even seen a Flip or Flop episode where Christina put reclaimed wood on a dining room ceiling.
The point is, consider your ceiling as an opportunity to add some impact to a room. The best part is that homeowners can do this on their own for very little money - find a paint color and try it! Medium level: wallpaper or reclaimed wood. Or, you can go big and add some shiplap or coffers. You've got options, no matter how much you are able to spend on this particular project.
Takeaway #2: Laundry rooms are where you get funky
Many of the laundry rooms used one of my current design obsessions: cement tile in colorful and interesting patterns, typically combined with colored cabinetry. I think it's because guests typically aren't in your laundry room, so it's an opportunity to walk a bit on the wild side design-wise, without worrying about how it's going to "fit in" with the rest of your house. Also, laundry sucks, you might as well be looking at some fun tile while you're slaving away in there. The clear leader in cement tile right now is Cement Tile Shop who has by FAR the biggest selection, but lower-priced competitors like Clé Tile and Riad Tile are coming in strong in this space. I may or may not stalk all three of those companies' Instagram accounts and drool over tile I am dying to use in a flip someday.
Note: Here I mention cement tile specifically for laundry rooms, as that's the only place I remember seeing it at this year's Homearama. However, I've seen it used in bathrooms, on fireplace surrounds, and as a kitchen backsplash. Go for it!
Takeaway #3: So are powder rooms
Same with powder rooms - although your guests will almost definitely be seeing your powder room. Most powder rooms in this year's show used wallpaper, and oftentimes were the only rooms in the house that did. One reason for this could be that a powder room is typically a small space - so using wallpaper there won't a) take forever, b) break the bank, and c) risk peeling with the steam that usually comes from a shower (a consideration for a first-time wallpaper-er). Another small project a homeowner can do themselves that makes a big impact without a big investment! I've added a picture of my favorite below, but house #2 (by Mastercraft Homes) had one with white wallpaper with a coral-colored dot print... and they also took a tip from my #1 above and painted the ceiling the same coral as the dots in the wallpaper. While it wasn't my personal style (coral clashes with my red hair, duh) it was fun and made a big statement - without being an expensive design. Also, don't feel like you have to go through a professional designer to find some fancy wallpaper - there's plenty of options on Etsy!
One more note about powder rooms: Every. Single. House. had one, usually off of the kitchen/living area, or between the garage and the kitchen. At a certain price point, people expect this. So, when we as flippers are evaluating a house as a potential flip project, we look at the bathroom situation: what bathroom are guests going to use? If there isn't an obvious answer, can we take space from other rooms to create a powder room close to the living area? This definitely matters to buyers and is typically an item on their "must have" list - they usually don't want guests using the same bathroom as their young kids.
Takeaway #4: Tile has toned down a bit - bright and clean was the theme, no more elaborate marble
In previous years, bathrooms (master baths especially) had elaborate (read: expensive) tile designs. Marble was the norm, not the exception. Bathrooms were glam. I'm actually really happy to report that this appears to not be the case any more. Bathroom tile designs were much more simple, and most seemed to follow the "clean and bright" design approach. Lots of subway tile, although maybe in different sizes/colors, and overall just not as "fancy" - yes, even in the master baths. Also, hex tile everywhere, which I am super happy about. Personally, this is more my style. Others may disagree, and that's cool. But, to look at this from a flipper's perspective: This is a good thing, namely for our reno budgets. Porcelain and ceramic tile are way cheaper than marble. Lay the tile in an interesting pattern and save yourselves boatloads on materials - at least $10/sq ft, if not more - this applies to homeowners doing renovations as well. Bathrooms can look and feel really high-end with inexpensive materials, it's all about pulling together the right design.
Takeaway #5: Offices
Almost every single home in this year's show had a dedicated office space, and unlike in some other years, these were dedicated offices - not bedrooms staged as an office, or desk space in the hallway between the garage and kitchen. Most of the floor plans had the office immediately off of the front entry, which makes sense for any business visitors. Although, my favorite office was in house #6 by Artisan Signature Homes, and it was actually in the master wing. This is where I am kicking myself for not saving more photos, because this office was just plain SEXY. Masculine and powerful (I mean those adjectives in a really really good way), yet comfortable. Personally I like a design style that is maybe a bit on the masculine side even though I am female, so maybe not everyone's cup of tea. But, in a $1.6m house, I thought that having a large, dedicated, PRIVATE office space - especially in the master suite - was very befitting of the home itself, and is likely necessary for the owners. Since I am an idiot and didn't save the photos I took from my IG story, here is a crappy iPhone photo of this house's floorplan from the Homearama program.
A note about offices: These houses are all in the $700k+ price range in a newer subdivision. For homes in lower price points, or in historic neighborhoods, an office is not going to be the norm. However, once you get to a certain price point, we have learned that some sort of an office space is warranted - like this office we did off of the mudroom in our Canoe Lane project.
So, there you have it. My first 5 insights into Homearama Louisville 2017. More insights coming soon in future blog posts - don't worry, I have a list!
Did you go to Homearama this year? Let me know what you thought!