Homeowners want outdoor features, even when their space is small. Small pools is a trending search.
Texas Tiny Pools (c) Houzz 2023
The latest Houzz survey of Summer 2023 emerging U.S. home design trends shows the enduring popularity of features that enhance health and wellness. The home design and improvement platform asked homeowners, home design enthusiasts and industry professionals what they were interested in and working on this season. Among the nine trends identified, five can enhance occupants’ well-being.
Designers outside of the survey are working on these trends too, they reported. I asked in three professional design groups on Facebook (Interior Design Community, Design Hounds and Wellness Designed) how these Houzz interests are showing up in their requests and projects. Their posted answers are shared below.
The Houzz survey noted, “We’re seeing a focus on creating more functional use for previously underutilized areas of the home. Finishing a basement creates a large open space that can be used as a family or recreation room (with searches up nearly nine and six times, respectively), making a destination for watching movies, playing games and exercising. In fact, searches for ‘basement golf simulator’ spiked an astounding 20 times!” Health and fitness is a facet of wellness design, and areas that facilitate exercise – even one’s golf swing – can enhance that for residents and guests.
Unfinished basements hold tremendous potential to add livable, usable square footage to a home, including work, fitness and gathering spaces. “We are currently in planning for a basement built out project,” posted Juliana Smith Ewer in Houston. Her team, she reported, is enlarging the finished the area to include space for a treadmill, a small office, a coffee station and a walk out ‘patio area’ for seating — a quiet space for morning ritual, she called it. She attributes this trend to people opting to remodel for more usability and enjoyment in a highly inflated real estate market.
This trend sometimes includes redesigning existing rooms that have outlived their purpose, as Washington, D.C.-based designer Heather Bates commented. These are often formal dining and living rooms that have given way to other spaces for eating and gathering. Bates has worked on both types this season, she posted.
For the dining room, Bates suggested the owner use it for their two middle school age daughter’s homework room: “She wanted to make sure the girls actually did their homework,” she noted. Bates outfitted the renewed space with two desks, framed cork boards for them to put up their cherished items, a flokati rug, bean bag chairs, and new lighting. “Thus the girls could do their work, chat, and just chill in the bean bag to relieve the homework stress.” Relieving stress is definitely a wellness enhancer.
The second homeowner turned her obsolete living room into a wine lounge, the designer commented. They added a wine fridge, swivel chairs, tasting table and new lighting. Bates described the new area as “Very moody, and relaxing for the owners while they listened to music and cherished their fully adult space.” Comfort and joy is also a wellness design facet.
“Searches for ‘outdoor rooftop terrace’ shot up 16.5 times,” Houzz reported. Outdoor connections definitely enhance well-being, and are harder to come by in the city than the suburbs or rural areas.
What are homeowners seeking to add on their rooftops? Besides the normal furniture, Atlanta and Charlotte-based Cheryl Draa Moran noted, “We are getting requests for fake turf, outdoor TVs, alternative low lighting, self-watering pots for plants, and indoor outdoor blankets and pillows.”
Bathrooms with Better Accessibility
Homeowners are looking to improve their bathrooms so they can keep using them safely through their retirement years, Houzz reported. “Searches for ‘aging-in-place bathrooms’ and ‘handicap-accessible bathrooms’ each more than doubled compared to the same period in 2022,” according to the survey. “Features like ‘handheld shower head,’ ‘ADA compliant bathroom vanities’ and ‘curbless showers’ all grew in prominence, as well,” the company added.
“I have recently worked on three bathrooms, all with intentional planning for aging parents or friends, as well as accommodating relatives with disabilities,” commented Ewer, adding that she has remodeled her own home’s guest bathroom to accommodate a family member with mobility issues.
“As the population ages, all of us are becoming more sensitive to accessibility concerns in the home,” the designer added. Accessibility – or the potential to use a space regardless of one’s age or physical challenges – is another important facet of wellness design.
Degree of Separation
“While open-concept design may be popular in the kitchen, we’re seeing increased interest in design elements that create temporary separation, such as a ‘living room divider,’ ‘Shoji screen’ and ‘partition wall’ (up 445%, 60% and 41%, respectively),” Houzz reported. This trend likely originated during the pandemic, when rooms started having to multi-task with more occupants working, studying and exercising at home. While homeowners began to feel crowded, rising interest rates and low inventory make finding a new house harder. Thus the need to rethink one’s spaces emerges.
“We’ve seen an increase in requests to separate large open plan spaces for more specific uses,” shared designer Laura Nesbit Umansky from Houston and Aspen. “On a current project, we’re designing a screening element in the center of a massive open plan room to create architectural interest while separating a formal lounging space from a media lounge and kitchen/breakfast area. The family will enjoy the space visually and acoustically.” Dividing the spaces helps stop sound from bouncing around a cavernous space, Umansky explained.
Small Outdoor Features Fit for Summer
“Homeowners aren’t letting space limitations keep them from enjoying their outdoor areas this summer,” the Houzz survey observed. “Searches for ‘small swimming pool’ grew by half, compared with the same period in 2023. In fact searches for ‘small plunge pool’ and ‘small pool house’ jumped nearly four and three times, respectively. Interest in ‘small outdoor kitchens’ also more than doubled. People in mosquito prone areas may be looking for ways to enjoy the outdoors from the safety of their porch, with searches for ‘small screened-in porch ideas’ growing six times compared with the previous year.”
Northern New Jersey-based designer Sharon L. Sherman is working on one of these projects, she wrote, connecting to an indoor fitness area she’s working on. “It will have a labyrinth designed into a small patio area with a water feature for meditation/contemplation.” Sherman sees such projects as becoming mainstream now as more homeowners are designing for what she calls “longevity and meaning.”