May 14, 2019

Your home is your domain. It reflects your personality and style. For architects, builders, and designers, understanding client needs is paramount and finding ways to set their projects apart is a constant challenge. Homeowners are getting creative in their requests, and their build teams (and the industry as a whole) are responding with cutting-edge design features.


A recent real estate trends report suggests that midcentury modern design continues to be in style. You’ll see it in curved sofas, sectionals, and curved-back chairs. Brass is showing up all around the home and in kitchens specifically. Art has been reaching new heights in popularity and the new rule is: there are no rules for hanging art in your home. From photography to lithographs to original paintings, the trick is to frame them well and hang them in groups if they are small or go large for an unexpected look.


But trends can be tricky. To find out what trends are hot this year, we went straight to the source—our builder and architect friends from around the Lowcountry.


Texture: Wallpaper Makes a Comeback


For an industry that spent the better part of two decades scraping wallpaper from their clients’ walls, they’re now playing in the wallcovering space again. Designer Deb Van Plew, who leads Court Atkins Group’s interior design team, 501 South Studio, has watched the resurgence of wallcovering, which includes a wide variety of materials and uses. “We readily come across new materials for wallcoverings being applied that you wouldn’t have thought possible two decades ago: patterned wood veneer, gold leaf, bamboo, feathers,” Van Plew said. These materials are being used to create strong focal points in a room. “Alternately, a more traditional grass cloth or plaster wallcovering creates layers of texture, allowing another element or architectural feature to be the superstar,” she said.


“An expanded selection of materials allows wallcoverings to be used in areas that were previously troublesome due to mold and mildew. Vinyl wallcoverings are frequently used in bathrooms, without concern for deterioration. Some manufacturers are even creating vinyl versions of fiber-woven wallcoverings, and the difference is often barely discernible,” Van Plew said.


Details: Simple Doors Get a Tech-y Upgrade


Builder Josh Simpson spends his days balancing the functional and aesthetic desires of clients, which creates an interesting opportunity for finding creative solutions to design challenges (some might call them hurdles). “Few things excite a builder more than helping a client achieve a design idea that’s merely thrown out as a passing whim,” Simpson says.


Simpson has noticed an uptick in requests for specialty doors for various uses—everything from keeping the dogs in the laundry room to providing hidden access to valuables or firearms. In true builder-nerd

fashion, Simpson can easily geek out on this topic. And he does, saying, “Over the years, growth in the hardware industry has provided us with greater availability to use specialty hinges, tracks, and guides, allowing for door functions that were once imagined novelties. From magnetic locks with hidden push button releases, to bookcases installed on rolling track systems that smoothly pocket into the wall providing access to an unexpected hallway, to half of a sliding pocket door that can take the place of an otherwise cumbersome safety gate, if you can think of it, chances are we can find a solution.”


Ecclectic: Hand-Poured Tiles Turn Floors into Works of Art


From a design standpoint, Simpson is also seeing a surge in hand-poured concrete tiles. One home, currently underway, is using this material in four spaces throughout. The availability and selection of concrete tiles is on the rise, and several providers offer all-natural, completely recyclable products, which adds to the desirability. Simpson does note that while extremely durable, “These tiles do require thorough sealing prior to grout installation to avoid unintentional staining. Heavy traffic areas will also require periodic resealing in order to maintain that newly installed look.” While many of these designs are quite bold, they have a nostalgic feel that seems to convey a familiar warmth.


Character: Hidden Nooks Add Function and Whimsy


When a client who loved wine and wanted a bar but also wanted an open-concept first floor and a clean modern kitchen, Shoreline Construction turned to what is normally a “hidden” space under the stairs to create a hidden bar. “In this home, a talented cabinet and trim team went above and beyond to build what our designers had dreamed up. They installed a sink, a wine fridge, and an amazing custom pocket door and voilà, hidden bar. When the door is closed, the bar disappears, but when open, these clients can host and serve friends and family, which was their goal.”


Nature: Indoors & Outdoors Integrate


At Palmetto Bluff, the inspiration provided by the land drives a constant desire for Joni Vanderslice, President and Founder of J. Banks Design Group, to blur the lines between interior and exterior spaces for her clients. A recent pool house, dubbed the “Cabana” by the owners, was designed for fun and easy durability. While it features rustic furnishings and finishes, it retains a sense of luxury without pretense. All the upholstery is done with easy-to-maintain indoor/outdoor fabric, and the space features rugged wood beams. Wide planked floors are used to connect to the outdoors. The doors slide back completely, creating a further connection to the surroundings.


This concept has consistently dominated design demands for homeowners who want open floor plans and outdoor entertainment space. “While outdoor room layouts and screened porches seem obvious, the blending of the natural environment with the home has spurred the development of glass walls, essentially doors that slide, pivot, stack, or fold such as Weiland sliding doors from Andersen, folding glass door systems from NanaWall and Euro-Wall, and the expansive bifold door from Marvin, to name a few. The benefit is that these systems are flexible but can also be closed completely depending on the weather,” Vanderslice said.


Tech: Lighting Goes Natural


With home wellness on the rise, the lighting industry is leading the way. Circadian rhythm lighting is a hot topic. This new technology, also called human-centric or tunable lighting, produces indoor illumination that more closely matches natural light in its warmth and, paired with home automation, shifts through the day with the sun to ease the impact of artificial light on the human body.


Builders and designers are rising to the challenges posed to them by homeowners and the industry at large. Clients bring ever-changing requests, dreams, and desires to their build teams, and the teams are rising to the task of executing their clients' visions. As technology and taste evolves, so do the homes they design and build. Design and building techniques continue to become more innovative, more dynamic, and more impressive. And we get to be the lucky beneficiaries of their talent and creativity. Stay tuned for more from this talented bunch. Who knows what is next.



Written by Courtney Hampson

Architecture & Design