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Marianne Cusato

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Housing Trends for 2012: Passing Trends

Posted: 02/16/2012 5:16 pm

Everyone loves a good trend story. We all want to feel in the know and on top of things. Is brown the new black? Is Wednesday the new Friday?

There are three types of trends -- those that are coming, those that are going and those that transcend trend status to become a standard trait. The time in the sun for a trend will vary, some are fleeting (home cafes and hair salons). Others hold on for a good while before phasing out (Roman tubs and double height foyers).

When we treated real estate like fashion, discarding out of season models, it was easy to chase the trends. The latest was typically the greatest. Today, you'll want to proceed with care the before rushing to follow the crowd. Make sure your housing decisions meet your needs, not the needs of the next person that might live in your home. Remember: today live-in value trumps resale value.

This column is the first in a three part series exploring real estate and home design trends of today. If you are planning a move, considering a renovation or just want to impress your friends while dining out, the following tips are for you.

Part One - Passing Trends

If you are old enough to remember Avocado Green and Harvest Gold, you know that day eventually comes to say goodbye to some trends. Following is a list of the items that we will see phased out of new homes in the next few years.

1. Stainless steel will be over as soon as something better comes along
If a good replacement were waiting in the wings Stainless Steel would already have joined Avocado Green in the history books. Perhaps it is because what is sold as 'stainless steel' is often plastic. White and black are making modest comebacks. But the door is open for something new to enter.

2. Granite is passé
Don't get me wrong, the right granite counter done well is beautiful. But including granite in your home for the sake of ticking something of a checklist doesn't necessarily get you ahead. A common problem with granite is when it is not sealed correctly. While it might look great in a photo, cleaning the surface can be a nightmare. On honed counters (ones that are not shiny) when granite isn't sealed correctly, moisture is easily absorbed. On polished counters that aren't correctly sealed, grease smears endlessly and requires special cleansers to remove. If good granite, installed properly, is in your budget, then by all means go for it, but don't discount other options simply to add a talking point to your house. Other options include solid surface counters or engineer stones, both are similar in price to granite ($35-$45 sq. ft). But, don't discount laminate. The technology has come a long way in recent years. Formica now offers a product that has eliminated those annoying black seams and is more scratch resistant. They offer modern patterns for a clean and fresh look. The great thing about Formica is that it costs as low as $6 a sq. ft., which can save you thousands when all is said and done, freeing up budget for other finishes.

3. Double-height ceilings in foyers and great rooms are out
As energy prices soar, ceilings are coming down. Earlier this month at the International Builder's Show in Orlando, Rose Quint of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) outlined the least likely features builders will include in new homes in 2012. Topping the list were outdoor kitchens and outdoor fireplaces, but following close behind were double-height ceilings in foyers and great rooms. This isn't to say we will return to the 8' ceilings common in 1960's ranch homes. Rather we will see more modest 9' and 10' ceilings, which give good height while being reasonable to condition and eliminates the need for a giant ladder to clean out the cobwebs from those upper corners.

4. The reign of the Roman tubs is finally over
Also on the NAHB's list of elements NOT likely to be included in a new home in 2012 is the Roman Tub. For years homes have been sold on the dream of soaking ones troubles away in a bubble bath. Yet, I haven't found too many people that actually used these tubs. The bubbles might have flowed once or twice, but mostly these giant column-clad baths ended up filled with laundry and damp towels. Today, a higher value is being placed on having a generously sized shower and linen space, rather than consuming large amount of square footage with a tub no one uses.

5. Gratuitous anything is out
Budgets are limited for most, so where you spend your money matters more than ever. The days for gratuitous lick and stick architectural elements are over. Instead, put your money where you touch and feel it. Rather than those large double height columns at the front entry, upgrade to solid core doors throughout the house with nice doorknobs.

In my next blogs:

Part Two: Current Trends - If Roman tubs and cathedral ceilings are out, read my next blog to see what is currently in.

Part Three: Transcending Trends
Trends shifting from 'in fashion' to standard practice