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Top Building Trends

The 2020 look: bold, open and inviting

By Abigail Thorpe

Open Concept

The penchant for a more open design has been around for a while, and it shows no signs of going anywhere. People prefer an open concept that allows for a more casual feel and relaxed entertaining. Hosts want to interact with their guests or family while in the kitchen, and an open-concept design makes each space in your home feel livable and useful. “There are a few different design styles surfacing on all of the price points of homes,” says Dennis Cunningham from ActiveWest Development and Building in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. “Some result in a simpler design and clean lines.

Continuity and flow are important in an open concept to make sure each area flows into the next while still preserving its own unique functionality. It’s important to plan ahead how you want your living space to feel and function.


A major shift is toward more green and sustainable design that cuts energy usage and focuses on sustainable product use and environmentally friendly features. “The biggest changes in the building industry relate to energy in one way or another,” says Brett Marlo DeSantis from Brett Marlo Design Build in Gig Harbor, Washington, which is passionate about small-footprint healthy home design.

“Green building and living are becoming more mainstream and therefore more achievable. And hopefully with more mainstream culture, increased demand will decrease costs and allow for healthier choices in local stores and more affordability,” she adds.

Out with White, In with Color

White kitchens have been the trend for many years now, but homeowners and designers aren’t afraid to break into some color and texture. Blues, greys and natural wood have become popular alternatives to white in the kitchen.

Taking their cue from the kitchen, other spaces in the home are starting to see bolder, richer colors, or soft, natural hues. Gone is the grey on grey on grey tones we saw so much of in past years. People want their home to feel relaxing, warm, inviting and peaceful—with a touch of individual flare.

Quartz and Wood

Easy maintenance and natural finishes are today’s must haves. Quartz has quickly become one of the most popular countertop choices because of its durability and easy maintenance, unlike its popular predecessor granite. A popular design choice continues the quartz as a backsplash in place of tile—it maintains continuity and makes for easy cleaning.

Natural wood is making a grand comeback to add texture to kitchens and living spaces. You’ll find it used on range hoods, as accent cabinets in the kitchen to brighten an otherwise white space, or on the center island. It brings warmth to the space and makes it feel more natural and timeless.

Bath Updates

Bathrooms are not just spots we shower and take care of business. Modern baths incorporate more of a day spa, livability element—they’re spaces we want to spend time and relax in. Bathroom seating—either built in or portable—is becoming popular as a space to take off shoes, sit and relax, or stack clothing and towels. To increase visual space and remove noise, more and more people are opting for double floating vanities.

Small details and visual impact are more important than ever. Tiling over the tub apron has become a popular way of elevating bathroom design, making the tub look like more of a built-in feature if a free-standing tub is not an option or preference.


The king of 2020 design? Multifunctionality. People want their spaces to serve a purpose (often several) and be functional, comfortable and beautiful. Particularly for smaller homes, key spaces or storage areas need to serve multiple functions at the same time.

A prime example is the kitchen island. It’s becoming more popular (and practical) to use for more than just storage and seating. Almost a third of renovating homeowners will add a microwave to the center island, and adding a sink with a garbage disposal or a cooktop is becoming more popular as well. After all, many people would rather face out and talk to family or friends while cooking than stare at a backsplash.

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