By Erica Jevons Sizemore
Featured Photo by mixphotos/Shutterstock.com
This is part of an ongoing series: What is Making the Triangle Area so Desirable?
With record-high gas prices, a housing market boom, and global uncertainty, it hasn’t been an easy transition back to stereotypically normal pre-pandemic living. The Consumer Sentiment Index and Fannie Mae Home Price Sentiment Index (HPSI) bear evidence of this. With concerns of a potential recession and after months of consecutive decline of both indices, the HPSI reached a new all-time low decreasing to 56.7, the lowest reading since the index’s inception in 2011, and only 16% of respondents felt it was a good time to buy a home.
While many fear the market may be in ‘correction’ territory, Nadia Evangelou, senior economist and director of forecasting for the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reminds us, “Seasonality plays an important role in the housing market since it has an impact on housing demand and supply. Every year, transactions and prices tend to be above-trend in the summer, while activity typically slows down by the time winter comes.” Activity in the last quarter of the year typically drops by 15 percentage points from the third quarter. Some say the fourth quarter of 2022 is starting to look very similar to the traditional slowdown of most markets. Here in the Triangle, we were still holding onto a +8.4% median increase in home prices year-over-year as of November and sitting at just two months of inventory available. As Evangelou states, “The market will remain competitive due to tight inventory.” Nevertheless, while it may not be all doom and gloom, our outlook and collective experience over the last few years will impact the housing market and our buying and selling decisions, and maybe more so, our design influences.
Design is, in many ways, not just about creating beautiful spaces but looking to create an enjoyable environment and one that supports a lifestyle. Being in tune with where people are now and what brings us joy is critical to home design. It is easy to see how a shift in consumer sentiment and lifestyle preferences as a result of Covid and the markets might inform new design trends and help us get a sense of what to expect in the aesthetic for housing.
For this reason, we are taking a look at what trends we may see in the New Year, as many consider what the home of their dreams looks like or what improvements they may want to explore in their current home.
According to the recent issue of Future of Housing Trend Report, new developments and home design and renovations are expected to be shaped by the ever-changing mindset of consumers, and one trend is specifically towards sustainability and minimalism. Homeowners are focused on adopting sustainable practices, in part, as a result of the emergence of eco-friendly materials and designs, while also at the hand of rising costs and environmental concerns. Home builders and brands are following suit with the use of bamboo, natural stone, and reclaimed wood, just to name a few. From electric cars to organic foods and fabrics, we’ve all become more conscious of our environmental impact, and we also see this in a desire for vintage and upcycled pieces in our furnishings. During a period of long lead times, many consumers started incorporating vintage looks into their design, mitigating the headaches of supply chain and manufacturing delays.
After a period of prioritizing hygiene and our health, hands-free technology has become front and center for many products used in our homes and offices. While around well before the pandemic, the fear of touching most everything in the last couple of years has kicked into gear a heightened interest in smart lighting, keyless locks, touchless faucets and toilets, and even knock-open dishwashers.
Having essentially interchangeable parts that can be more easily deconstructed, added onto, and reused, architects and designers are embracing ‘reversible’ or flexible home design and emphasizing purposeful, multi-use interiors. Spaces like the ‘cloffice’ – born out of a need to hunker down and find a place to work from home when the pandemic struck wherever space was available – will likely stay popular. Even those back to work in a formal sense may find value in a centralized space for checking emails and paying bills while still being able to close a door and walk away. Many will desire to have designated home offices and bespoke interiors that feature areas for entertainment and exercise, bridging the gap created in our situational isolation and reminding us that the utility in our homes could change at a moment’s notice. Hardworking furnishings like the Murphy bed with built-in shelving will make a comeback for the same reason, as homeowners try to squeeze more out of their spaces. Open floor plans that easily create privacy zones are among the focus of many architects, seeking to find unique ways to serve many functions.
Photo by Ginger Kitten/Shutterstock.com
Focus on Wellness
Pandemic-driven lifestyle shifts changed how people think about our homes. In the year ahead, homeowners will likely continue making investments centered around making their home environment one which fosters relaxation, renewal, and personal connection with family, friends, and nature – a true home retreat. We want to feel in harmony with the natural world while still being upscale, and an environment geared towards facilitating healthy living presents an invitation to rest and reset.
“With so much happening in the world today, often uncertain and stressful, I predict we’re going to see a shift towards balance, calm, and simplicity in terms of home design,” says Kathy Kuo, interior designer. In a time of perpetual change and constant messaging, we are feeling overloaded causing us to want to ‘check out’. In wellness design, we set a tone for slowing down and practicing mindfulness. People will consider how their home makes them feel and engage in design which makes them happy, inspires, and brings emotional comfort so that they are healthier and more productive in their space. Trends will gravitate towards textures, simple silhouettes, and earthy tones. Areas of focus will continue to include lighting and interiors flowing seamlessly to the outdoors.
Rich, Saturated Moody Hues
Darker moody looks, which give a space a sense of intentionality, are becoming popular amid the uncertainty of the market. And the all-white look, which has been so popular, may give way to a return to a darker aesthetic that can play to many different styles, from modern to traditional. Interiors and exteriors are getting a pop of darker, dramatic colors. Think of it as the anti-neutral renaissance as we shift from the sterile white of Covid to all-over color – rooms will be saturated from walls to ceiling.
There are some new colors, textures, and materials but most importantly, new moods. Most of the moods tend to revolve around a spa-like sense of serenity or a fun, patterned boost of joy. “A lot of research has been done on the psychology of colors, how the human brain perceives colors and the emotions and behaviors that they evoke,” says NewGround Interior Designer Amy Boschert. Designing spaces that create mood-making moments and rooms that evoke a sense of calm or fun through the use of color, texture, finishes, and light is a top priority. It’s easy to see why this may resonate with our desire to create a particular look and feel. Hues are becoming gentler and easier on the eye, organic with soothing tones, which creates a calming effect.
We have started surrounding ourselves with things that make us feel happy as we crave a better outlook and as such how we decorate has shifted – cocktail cabinets that move and rotate, furniture that’s geared towards sitting together and being convivial, anything that is a bit playful and glamorous and dramatic. There’s a general move towards sophistication that is more relaxed and approachable. Outside the home, it reflects what we have seen socially change; we are without a tie at the office and can be just as smart, or when we swap our heels for cross trainers. We want to take off our shoes at home, enjoy plush and comfortable pieces, and prove we can be both stylish and cozy. People are embracing furniture design that provides a sense of security and solace – curvaceous sofas, high-back lounge chairs, and pettable fabrics. And that doesn’t stop in the main sitting spaces in a home, consumers want bedrooms that can be their private sanctuary to relax and unwind and be comfortable.
A well-designed home tells a story, and while all of our stories have a chapter with a nod to the pandemic, the most memorable spaces, albeit informed by trends, boldly conveys a person’s unique style and point of view. With consumer sentiment at all-time lows and the housing market trying to find its footing, 2023 will undoubtedly be one that will design its own narrative about where we are headed.
By Erica Jevons Sizemore
Broker, Realtor and Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist (CLHMS)
KWSE, Director of Luxury, Keller Williams Raleigh
Erica’s background in finance and marketing is matched with a personal passion for an unparalleled experience, love of home design and inability to sit still – always brainstorming how to better position her gregarious clients real estate investments to support their lifestyle and financial ambitions. After 12 years in wealth management at Morgan Stanley, Erica returned to real estate in residential and luxury home sales at Keller Williams Raleigh. With a love of North Carolina and all things Raleigh, she has been an active volunteer and committee chairperson at many of our local area community standouts, among them the North Carolina Symphony, Carolina Ballet, Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, House of Hope NC and the RRAR Raleigh Giving Network.