Model Home Trends

By Boyce Thompson

Board-and-batten siding and a furnished front porch & yard are two current model home trends illustrated in this house, Plan 901-120.

Imagine if you could walk the best model homes throughout the country, hunting for the latest design ideas for your new home? The next best thing -- for those of us who don’t have a six-figure travel budget -- may be to take a virtual tour through winning projects in industry design competitions. Even better is to take that guided tour from one of the country’s leading architects. Ed Binkley, a Tampa-based principal with BSB Design, recently mined the galleries for the latest trends. Here’s what he found.

Board-and-Batten Siding
The board-and-batten look, originally associated with farmhouses, is showing up on the exterior of homes of

all stripes -- as you can see in some of Houseplans.com most popular new designs, like Plan 430-156, above. It’s also being used for decoration inside homes. Batten strips add texture to walls, notes Binkley. They also add “solar animation,” he says, by casting shadows on the wall. In the classic look, 1x2 batten strips run vertically over siding boards. “But I’ve seen them turned at an angle to create a diamond pattern,” says Binkley.

Bringing Exterior Material Indoors
This technique – using exterior siding, roofing or trim inside a home – has long been core to custom homes. Now it’s increasingly employed in mainstream housing to create a unified design theme. Using cultured stone to wrap the fireplace, the same stone used for exterior walls, is the most common technique. But now merchant builders are using shiplap siding in family rooms, stucco to frame showers in Mediterranean
designs, and concrete block to form the interior walls of contemporary homes. Plan 888-3 uses board-and-

batten siding on the walls of the second living room to reinforce an indoor-outdoor feeling. In so-called transitional designs – traditional designs executed with contemporary materials – corrugated metal siding, wire mesh railings, and concrete walls may show up inside the home.

Dark Door and Window Frames
One way to make windows look special, without spending a fortune on custom styles and sizes, is to darken the frame around the window. The treatment plays up the shape of the window, reinforcing the geometry of contemporary design. The look is also commonly associated with historic buildings, Spanish-style homes,

and farmhouses, as shown in Plan 888-17. “It makes sense to do with big planes of thick glass,” says Ed Binkley. “The interior spaces feel much larger.”

Metal Roofs
The metal roof, formerly relegated to rural reaches, is infiltrating suburban housing. Even corrugated and

standing-seam metal roofs are receiving attention. See Plan 933-5. Though durable and inexpensive, metal roofs need to be insulated and soundproofed, unless you really love the sound of rain on the roof. “It sounds great on a front porch,” allows Binkley. A metal roof can tie together all the metal on a house, including gutters, downspouts, and maybe even railings. The exterior metal on one award winning home was even done with copper.

Natural Wood Beams
Using wood beams to decorate a high ceiling is a given in luxury housing. But it’s become common in upscale production homes, too, particularly when the roof of the great room gets above 12 feet. Dark wood

beams not only provide a pleasing contrast to the smooth white walls but serve as a focal point, as in Plan 935-6. “They draw your eyes to the ceiling,” says Binkley. Here’s a secret, though – not even a $10 million home is likely to have structural wood beams. And in mainstream housing, the beams may not even be real wood. “Synthetic beams are less expensive to install and handle,” says the architect.

Outdoor Fireplaces
Outdoor fireplaces have reached flashover – taking off throughout the country, even in warm environs. Why? They are an inexpensive way to create a frequently used amenity. “We probably do more outside than inside fireplaces,” says Binkley, who primarily works in Florida. Homeowners love the idea of gathering around a wood fire pit, especially on a crisp evening. Architects are starting to give more thought to where the fire pit

goes. “It can become a focal point for several rooms inside the house.” Plan 548-17 includes a particularly dramatic island fire pit.

Front Yard Living
Elaborate outdoor rooms are showing up on the backside of the house. What about the front side? Binkley pushes front living areas in his latest commissions. His inspiration is Orlando’s very walkable Lake Eola neighborhood, where some homeowners have moved their living room, complete with sofas and reading

lamps, onto the front porch. Plan 901-120. On homes without porches, Binkley may use pavers, bricks, and stones to inexpensively carve out social plots near the front door. They are a great place to watch pedestrians, drink an adult beverage, or read the newspaper.

Specialty Storage
  One of homebuyers’ biggest regrets is that they didn’t get enough storage space. Astute designers have answered that demand with over-sized utility rooms and pantries, big walk-in closets, and garage storage systems. Now they are including custom storage spaces everywhere. You can find storage for

wine (Plan 888-17), cookbooks, and mobile devices in the kitchen. Binkley included drawers under stairs and benches in his award-winning homes at Laureate Park in Orlando.

Boyce Thompson is the author of The New New Home from Taunton.

Fri Mar 24 00:00:00 PDT 2017