January 22, 2015 – The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) honored single-family homes, apartments and condos, remodeling projects and subdivisions as part of the 2014 Best in American Living Awards (BALA)  at a gala celebration during the NAHB International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas.  The winning projects demonstrate innovative design and give a preview of design trends home buyers will see over the next several years.

“While each award winner was unique, there’s certainly a number of common themes among these honorees,” 2014 BALA Chairman Stephen C. Moore, senior partner – marketing with BSB Design Inc. in Des Moines, Iowa. “Homes are being designed with relaxation in mind, as this year we saw an overall simplification in the designs with cleaner lines and more natural elements.”

Some of the trends seen in the winning projects include:

White on White Kitchens: Many kitchen designs featured white cabinets, topped with white counter tops finished off with white back splashes and white trim. Industrial textures are being introduced, but they are muted or white.

Doubled Island Kitchens: The popularity of open living/cooking/dining spaces are lending themselves to more creative and casual spaces. Back-to-back islands and side-by-side islands are showing up in all styles of homes—one island for cooking and preparing food and the other for serving food and dining. Sometimes the second island takes the place of a more formal dining room table.

Centered Bathtubs: Bathrooms are continuing to becoming more spa-like. As a result large, well-designed tubs are becoming the center of attention. They are being pulled away from the wall and treated like sculptures.

Natural Elements Mixed with Contemporary Materials: A softer side of modern design is evolving as contemporary and industrial materials are beginning to mix with natural materials. Wood, steel and glass are a popular combination, allowing the best from both worlds. Modern textures are being combined with old-world or classical elements.

Increased Quality of Details: Across the board, the details, such as how a hand rail meets a stair, are getting better. Light, classic details that are clean and well thought-out are amplified when pulling together major pieces of a simple, clean-lined space.

Get Away Rooms: Whether it is a room with a view or a game room, creating spaces that allow you to get away from everyday life are becoming popular. These spaces are designed to encourage relaxation, family-time or allow one to practice their hobbies.

Wine Rooms and Bars: Wine is finding its home everywhere and anywhere. Wine displays under the stairs are beautifully filling spaces that could otherwise go to waste. Full rooms dedicated to wine or liquors are no longer just for the avid collector. Wet-bar nooks are adding to the overall encouragement of relaxing and enjoying time at home.

Indoor-Outdoor Living: Roof decks, California rooms and nano-walls are creating ways to make accessing nature easier during day-to-day life. No matter if in the middle of the city, in the suburbs or out in the country, people are utilizing the extra space on the roof to give them a great view while soaking in the surroundings. Indoor-outdoor transitional spaces are showing up where weather permits by utilizing removable walls, screens and foldable walls.

Grand Entries Are Not the Focus: Entries are still very well designed, but the amount of space allocated to the entrance is shrinking. Large pivoting doors are making grand statements, but open immediately into main living space of the home.

Non-Car Centric Design: While cars, driveways and garages are a part of American life, it seems that the car is no longer a major part of the design conversation, but when they are incorporated they are done well. Design features that seem to be taking their place are sidewalks, bike paths and community gathering spaces.