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  • Writer's pictureLily Dittschlag & Dennis Dittschlag


architect home building trends

For many people, building a home is the ultimate dream of a lifetime, ourselves included. The reasons for building a home and what to include are very diverse. Technology, building materials, and taste evolve. And after the landmark year that has been 2020, it only makes sense that we take a look at the main home building trends for this year!

1. Open concept spaces

You may think the open concept has been a trend for a while, with every other home improvement show on TV covering people taking down walls and connecting different living areas. And that is correct, of course. But now this trend is gaining even more momentum. Why? Because after the past year, many more people are welcoming the idea of entertaining at home instead of going out. Families are engaging more together in things like cooking dinner, movie nights, or playing games. And just like us, busy parents want to keep an eye on their little ones as much as possible.

The formal dining and living rooms continue to disappear. They are being replaced by open-space areas, great rooms, and dens that all establish a way of informality into the main living areas of the house.

open concept living

2. Outdoor Living

Along with the first trend, the amount of time people spend at home and how we all want to connect with others leads to more indoor/outdoor living, extending the indoor living spaces to outdoor decks, patios, and balconies.

Good landscapers are harder to book because there is so much demand. At the same time, builders are offering back yard packages as a regular upgrade instead of building just the house and putting down sod in the yard.

outdoor living

3. Home Office

Many people are working remotely right now. You know this won't ever go away completely. Many of us will need a home office setup now and in the future. At the same time, many others are studying at home, training for a career pivot, or simply kids doing homework. To work efficiently, you need a space that supports your productivity. Finding ways to integrate an office into the home is definitely a task in itself, because who really wants to give up a bedroom, for example. Creative home building solutions are necessary to use available space for an office work area.

When looking at home or condo listings online currently, you will be hard-pressed to find a home without a work or office desk being staged somewhere. This will be a strong trend in the foreseeable future.

home office

4. More focus on the kitchen

You will know the saying: "The kitchen is the heart of the home." And truly, kitchens have always been important as a family hub. Now, about a year into the pandemic and stay-at-home orders, kitchens have truly become all-purpose rooms and people are gravitating to having an open-plan kitchen AND one that has adjacent living areas. As such, the kitchen has become a showcase room in the house and a focal point for design elements, which makes the kitchen one of the most expensive rooms in the house. Kitchens have also become more "techy", not just with smart appliances but with many more devices being around in the home, wanting to be charged and stored.

Looking at any new home build in your area or floor plans published online, you will find that today's layouts will have the kitchen as a central element to the main floor.

open modern kitchen layout

5. Luminosity

Light, light, light, and more light! Maximizing the daylight flowing through a home is achieved by panoramic windows, introducing skylights, and using glass partitions as walls or stair railings. Glass is part of all the modern architectural trends, from industrial to minimalistic. Architects are increasingly using glass as design elements with larger windows overlooking the front and back yard or extending windows into the gables with custom glass shapes. More light also means more space in the sense that rooms simply feel larger than they actually are.

Especially in a Northern climate like ours in Toronto, we all must get enough daylight during the shorter months. And at the same time, the connection to the outdoor living spaces mentioned above and nature, in general, are positive influences for us. This interaction with humans and nature is the primary focus of the biophilic design.

daylight, panoramic windows

6. Customization

We all want to feel special, right? Customization in layout choices and finishes is a trend that will continue everywhere, from residential subdivisions to luxury estates. Everyone wants their home to be different and avoid a cookie-cutter feel. Customization allows for this sense of exclusivity and knowing that you own a unique home.

There is a sub-trend to custom home design in so-called "off-the-shelf plans". Builders or architects may offer a set of plans that future homeowners can pick from and then tweak to fully suit their needs and wishes. This process simplifies the decision making of everyone. It also takes some of the guess-work off the homeowners because they know they are getting a proven layout that has been successfully built before.


7. Home Automation

It's clear and inevitable that the world is becoming more and more technology-driven. Your home is no exception. While some aspects of home automation, like smart speakers or door locks with integrated cameras, are quite common, full home automation still has some ways to go. These days you can automate most anything, the challenge is more on the integration and ease of control. You want easy user interfaces and preferably remote access.

This trend will continue strongly for years to come. Standardization will set in eventually, and the ultimate focus will be on making everyday life tasks easier, making your home safer and more energy-efficient.

home automation, smart thermostat

8. Healthy Home

A healthy home can have many facets, but there are two things to focus on: Environmental health issues and personal restoration.

Environmental concerns are a growing influence on consumers in general and home buyers in particular. The most important aspects to focus on in a home are the indoor air quality and ventilation, water quality, and healthy building materials without harmful chemicals or off-gases.

When it comes to personal restoration, the demand is generic but the application is individual. As a whole, people need quiet spaces that help them relax and unplug. Each of us may have a different approach to this, however. Some people prefer an expansive spa-like bathroom with a free-standing tub and steam shower. You may want a yoga space or room for meditation, or maybe a library or reading nook. Whatever it is that you like best, areas like these are continuing to be dominant features of home designs and layouts.

restoration and relaxation, spa

9. Universal Design & Accessibility

Due to increased housing costs, more and more families live in multi-generational homes or purchasing a home together with friends. At the same time, we have an aging population with an increased amount of baby boomers reaching retirement age. Both trends force the home building industry to think about integrating accessibility solutions into their plans.

Multi-generational families may ask for secondary master suites or a secondary dwelling unit that may eventually be rented out. Other needs may focus more on safety in the house especially in and around bathrooms and stairs.

It is also one of those things you may not consider for yourself right now, but if you're building your forever home, then it may be worthwhile to give it a thought and future-proof your design.

universal design accessibility

10. Conservation & Sustainability

Both water and energy conservation are growing consumer concerns and are increasingly planned for by architects and builders. This is driven by the overall environmental awareness in society, the growing marketability of such features, the advancement of building technologies, and ultimately tighter regulations such as building codes or government incentives.

The future home will have an advanced infrastructure to be more self-sufficient, use fewer resources and be better integrated with local providers, e.g. micro-grid in your neighborhood.

More homes will come to market that will feature passive design, solar panels, home batteries, and charging stations for your electric vehicle. Whether you call this eco-style, green home, or sustainable, this trend is set to grow.

natural materials conversation sustainable architecture

Further Trends

Reconstruction, Renovation and Restoration

With many cities not having additional land to develop, but they offer good infrastructure and proximity to work and entertainment. Using the existing city space, the main trend is the redevelopment and reconstruction of existing properties or residential infill. This is very popular in our neighborhood right now, and our own house is essentially a reconstruction. Builders and architects are catering to this demographic of buyers but have to develop plans to meet each site's unique challenges.

At the same time, many people are staying put. Instead of investing in a new property, they are significantly renovating or upgrading their homes, quite possibly to implement one or more of the trends described earlier.

Modern Home Design --- What does it look like?

When you look around your neighborhood, you will probably notice new homes being built featuring clean lines, minimal architectural features, compact building blocks, clean finishes mixed with raw materials. Some houses still feature traditional gables, others may be more minimalistic and others yet again look more industrial than residential. More houses are featuring a flat roof or a minimal pitch as opposed to the classic A-frame design.

There is a term for this called "Laconicism". It describes the use of straight lines and minimal details. With the modern design, construction methods, and materials, you create precision lines and a strong architectural image. Houses in this style appear strong, solid, and restrained. And while they're not over the top or standing out at first glance, they still intend to indicate the status of the owner.

Modern home laconicism


Trends come and go. Some of the topics we mentioned will stick around for longer than others.

The common thread amongst the currents trends is that most homeowners are looking for versatility, comfort including health benefits and sustainability.

The trick for homeowners is to figure out what you want out of your home and to ultimately pursue the best features with your family in mind.


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