I confess: I am an interior design addict.
The materials. The textures. The layout. The planning. It’s always a journey and when everything is complete, there’s no better feeling.
One of the best parts about being a real estate agent is walking into home after home and seeing how design trends evolve. You start to develop an eye for how design affects real-life living, and you also know what buyers are looking for. It’s also a good profession – aside from being an actual designer or builder – to feed that interior design fix!
With the spring real estate market running full-force in Chicago, sellers and buyers are paying close attention to the world of design. Smart sellers know that upgrades can pay off, and motivated buyers are recognizing the equity they can build with post-closing renovations.
So what is happening in the world of design these days? Let’s take a look:
The heart of the home is often the focus of a renovation plan, and for good reason. It’s the heart of the home, and there are so many ways to combine innovation, personality, functionality and beauty into one room.
Color: While white isn’t necessarily out of style, trends are changing and color is being integrated back in, especially with cabinets. Whether it’s a dramatic pop of color or a more subtle hue like stone, we are definitely seeing an emergence from all-white cabinets.
Mixing Vibes: A fresh kitchen is a hit on everyone’s list, but even with modern updates, we’re seeing eclectic combinations like sleek lines with vintage-inspired tiles. It softens the modern edge and appeals to a wider audience.
Storage: More important now than ever. We have a lot of stuff, but we don’t want to see it. Smart design incorporates concealed and clean integration in kitchen designs. And drawers. Love drawers.
Hardware: This is kitchen bling. You can be subtle or you can go for the Wow Factor. Pewter and gunmetal are the new trendsetters. Brass and gold still offer a punch of drama and warmth to a cool-toned palate, and matte black makes a bold statement.
Materials: Think wood, stone, jute. The kitchen is becoming more connected to earthy materials. And the juxtaposition of warm wood with a sleek white countertop is on point.
Also quite the eye-catcher, an updated bath is important because it can become the home’s peaceful serenity or dramatic statement. And either design can be spectacular.
Storage: Wall-mounted ledges are where it’s at. No one wants to see all 37 products you use every day (you don’t even want to look at that every time you walk into the bathroom!).
Materials: Concrete and wood – one cold, one warm – are both being integrated into bathroom design. They complement each other and make the space feel sleek and cozy.
Tile: All the way up. Extending a tile backsplash from the counter area throughout an entire wall is a big statement. And a good one.
Hardware: Mounting a faucet on the wall means you have a sleeker sink line (especially because all of your 37 products are in the wall-mounted ledge!). If you have storage somewhere other than under the sink, you could also expose beautiful piping – like brass – for a fresh, vintage-industrial look.
Heated Floors: Because Chicago winter.
Throughout the Home
Patterns: Geometric patters aren’t necessarily a new trend, but they are becoming more commonly used, especially with tile. Keep it edited, meaning a bold pattern looks best paired with simple accents. Choose one side of the shower, the floor of the foyer, or a wall of a stair landing. Even small spaces can have big impact.
Wall Texture: Wallpaper also isn’t new, but texture is really making a comeback. Did you have a stylish grandma and a handy grandpa who put up warm, natural grass cloth on the walls of their den? I did. And I still have to run my hands over that rich texture anytime I see it. Love it.
Basements: After kitchens and bathrooms, basements become a priority for adding value to any home. Especially in Chicago, square footage in any single family home is maximized with a finished basement. A smart remodel will include space that can be flexible: family room/kids play space/media room and extra bedroom/office/workout area. Including a bathroom is becoming a must along with those heated floors. (Who likes cold feet? No one!)
Ultimately, whether you’re a seller preparing to list your home, a buyer ready to tackle a renovation, or an owner looking to enjoy some upgrades, knowing where to start is an important first step. Once you know what design trends speak to you, you can find the right builder who is keen on those trends, has access to design experts and knows how to use quality materials. And of course, make sure they are also self-confessed design fanatics!
Liza Balistreri Cahill is a broker with Compass in Chicago who loves everything about real estate: scouting the market for that perfect property, being a concierge-level resource for her clients, and developing relationships with those in the industry.