Last weekend was the final chance to see the Showcase of Homes in our area. If you aren't familiar, the Showcase of Homes is an annual event held by the local Home Builders Association in various locations across the country. It features the latest in home design, construction, and technology, and provides potential buyers the chance to familiarize themselves with local builders and designers.
I love this sort of stuff; it's like real-life Pinterest! I wanted to go last year, but Mila was just a teeny tiny newborn, so I just wasn't up for it. This year I enlisted the help of a babysitter – no more than three hours, I told her – and off I went, camera in hand, giddy with excitement.
Three hours? Insert hysterical laughter here.
I only got to see 10 of the 20 homes – and that alone took nearly five hours. These showcase homes are typically scattered throughout the area, which, in my case, meant Ooltewah, Hixson, Signal Mountain, Soddy Daisy and all over Chattanooga. Needless to say, the day involved a lot of driving, and because many of these neighborhoods are new developments, GPS failed me a time or two.
All in all, though, it was a really fun event – one I hope to make a yearly tradition.
No house was completely my style, but I found lots of inspiring ideas in nearly every home I visited. Surprisingly, I also noticed a lot of design commonalities between our home and these showcase homes. At first, this discovery gave me a boost of confidence regarding the finishes we chose for our own renovation; but the more houses I toured, the more I saw these same design elements over and over, and by the end of the day I felt like my original stylistic choices were not so original, after all.
When we were renovating our home, I was told over and over by friends and readers alike how unusual my tastes were; in fact, with some decisions I worried that my style was so different (especially for this location) that no one would ever want this home if we decided to sell. Imagine my surprise to see the same tile, lighting fixtures and other finishes in several of the showcase homes.
The good news is that when we do decide to sell our bungalow, I know for a fact there's a market for it!
That's the case with trends, though. You hear the word and instantly cringe because of its negative connotation. But truth be told, whether you like it or not, we're all influenced by what is around us, and the same applies to design preferences. When you're regularly exposed to all-white kitchens, brass hardware and Sputnik-style chandeliers – be it via Pinterest or Instagram, magazines or real life – well, it's no wonder these trends find their way into our homes. There's nothing negative about it, as long as we're intentional in choosing these pieces for reasons other than their trendy status.
Take the Sputnik-style fixtures, for example. I naturally gravitate towards architectural, geometric lighting (likely thanks to my perfectionist nature), and for that reason the Sputnik chandelier is extremely aesthetically pleasing to me. What's more, my husband is from Russia, and I'm from Ukraine, so the lighting choice is a casual nod to our history and culture, which makes for an interesting conversation starter with guests.
Mixing trends with more classic pieces is a great way to showcase your personal style. That is precisely what many new builds lack, however, since they're geared towards the masses rather than a specific individual or family.
But enough philosophizing; let's talk about those common design themes I noticed from home to home. If you're in the market for a new home or are currently renovating, you probably have resale value in mind. As you choose finishes and make design decisions that will later appeal to a wider market, this roundup can serve as your guide.
Every house had at least one room – be it a hallway or foyer or bedroom or stairway landing – with walls (or ceilings!) covered in various decorative panels.
Shiplap, wainscoting and moulding were all very popular, as was beadboard.
Wall paneling is a great option for transforming a plain wall into an architectural statement, because it adds texture and visual interest to a space.
Intentional mixing of metals is nothing new, really, but I was surprised to see the type of metals being mixed together at some of the showcase homes.
The key to mixing metals is to juxtapose finishes – a warm brass against a cool chrome, for example, or polished brass combined with matte black. Several of the homes I toured, however, mixed chrome with nickel – a bit of an unusual combination, in my experience. Using two metals that look nearly identical can sometimes appear as a mistake; you want the variety of metals to be obvious and intentional.
When done right, mixing metal finishes gives a space more dimension.
Gallery walls have been around forever, and it seems they're not going anywhere any time soon.
Don't get me wrong, I adore them. Their symmetrical, grid layout and the black and white artwork make my perfectionist heart oh-so-happy. In fact, we have two grid gallery walls in our own home (the wraparound gallery wall in the living room and the budget-friendly verison in our entryway).
Having said that, there are so many other options for displaying art and photos, so I'm always surprised when people choose the grid layout. Just goes to show, there's no denying its timeless appeal.
Open Floor Plan
The open home concept is here to stay, no doubt about that. Out of the 10 homes I toured, only one had a separate, formal dining room.
As for the others, you could stand in either the living room, kitchen or dining room and have a clear view of the other two. Some of the houses felt a bit too open, like there was no clear definion of functional areas whatsoever. That felt a bit too chaotic for my tastes, but otherwise I'm a huge fan of open floor plans.
They're especially great in smaller homes, like our 1930 bungalow, because they open up the living area, making it feel much larger than if it were divided by walls.
Again, open shelving is not a new trend so much as it is a remaining one. It's been said many times that this trend is on its way out, but if the Showcase of Homes is any indication, it's most definitely here to stay.
In rooms of all types and styles, floating shelves opened spaces to high style, dynamic displays and up-front functionality. While we don't have any in our own home, I totally understand the appeal.
Besides, with the Farmhouse style popularity at an all-time high, it's one of the easiest ways to bring in that aesthetic into your own home.
Shades of Black and White
While there were plenty of brown, beige, tan and cream color palettes, I was pleasantly surprised to find several homes focusing instead on shades of black and white.
If you've ever seen even one photo of our home, you know just how I feel about a striking black and white palette. (I love it!)
It's classic yet modern, timeless yet bold. The strong contrast, combined with lots of textures, patterns and metallic accents, is an instant recipe for a stylish space. Plus, it's quite versatile!
Statement Lighting Fixtures
The biggest trend that came as a surprise to me was the number of sculptural and Sputnik-style lighting fixtures I saw.
Again, we live in an area where more traditional design elements are typically preferred, so it was nice to see something a bit more fun and contemporary.
If you read the introduction to this roundup, you know that when we were choosing lighting fixtures for our own bungalow, friends and readers alike were quick to comment on my unusual tastes. I'm glad to see other professionals getting on board with this trend!
Layering lighting in a room is not a new concept; designers have used it for decades to add drama and depth to a space and create a certain atmosphere. But if you don’t work with design and decor on a daily basis, it may not have occurred to you that the reason a particular room in your home may feel so stark is because it’s lacking layered lighting.
Layered lighting creates a balanced, visually comfortable space that not only looks good but also functions well, accommodating whatever activity it is you’re using the space for at the moment. No, it doesn't make for the best interior photos when all the lights are on, but it definitely makes the space feel welcoming and cozy.
Nearly all of the showcase homes had a master bathroom that featured a freestanding tub in addition to a walk-in shower.
I've been convinced that freestanding tubs were on their way out simply because they're not very functional. Taking long, luxurious baths is one of things you dream of doing. But once that freestanding bath tub is finally installed, well, let's just say it doesn't get used as often as one may have hoped. Apparently, they're still quite desired in new builds, though.
We have the same tub and shower setup in our own master bathroom, which makes me excited to think of the potential selling point.
Shaker Style Kitchen Cabinets
Seems like more and more people are leaning towards clean, simple lines in the kitchen, as was evident by shaker style cabinets being used in every single showcase home I saw.
We, too, have the same style in our own kitchen, and there's no denying its mass appeal. It can just as easily fit a Farmhouse-style home as it does a more contemporary bungalow.
Again, while not necessarily a trend, the degree to which built-ins are being incorporated into homes is insane. Practically every nook and cranny at the showcase homes had some sort of built-in. Especially popular were built-in desks, like seen on the photo, and extra storage built-ins in the hallways. Oh, and let's not forget about built-in bookcases around the fireplace. Literally every house with a fireplace had some sort of built-in shelving next to it.
Unfortunately, we don't have any built-ins in our own home, as much as I love them. I am, however, hoping to add a built-in office nook in the mudroom one of these days.
Surely you're not surprised by white kitchens being appealing to the mass market. We have one, too, and regardless of what anyone says, a well-designed, all-white kitchen will never go out of style. It's a timeless classic, like a chesterfield sofa, for example.
All except two of the houses I toured had all-white kitchens. The key is to add layers of texture and lighting to keep it from looking boring.
Exposed Ceiling Beams
Exposed ceiling beams are a an interesting architectural feature that add a unique flair to any space. No doubt stemming from the popularity of the farmhouse style, they add a touch of rustic to a home.
I saw them in bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens, dining rooms – basically in every room you can imagine. Even though they have become very popular over the last few years, I believe that exposed beams are here to stay.
Rustic style not your cup of tea? Several of the showcase homes had white beams, which I personally found more appealing than wooden tones. They are typically featured in rooms with higher-than-average ceilings, so unfortunately we don't have them in our bungalow.
I've mentioned farmhouse style several times, and so many of these trends can definitely be linked to it, but I thought it was important to highlight it in terms of styling rather than architectural details.
Farmhouse styling was quite evident at the showcase homes. Being located in the south, I have no doubt that plays a huge part. I can handle the trend in moderation, like a few pieces from Chip and Joana Gaines' Magnolia line at Target. Some of the houses, however, took it to a whole new level, with every single accessory and decor item having that rustic, weathered look.
I'm a huge fan of wallpaper (have you seen our nursery?), so I was happy to see several showcase homes featuring this trend. The most popular places for wallpaper were entryways and powder rooms, and in most cases, the entire room was covered rather than one feature wall.
As far as patterns, florals and geometric shapes were most popular.
Wallpaper is a great way to add personality to a rather boring space, which explains why it's most often seen in rooms focused on function rather than beauty (i.e. entryways and powder rooms).
Dark Interior Doors
I'm not sure how to feel about this particular trend. Sure, I understand the rationale that a few coats of paint are a great way to make a rather boring element like interior doors feel less builder-grade. Slap on some black paint, and a typical paneled door takes on an air of swanky elegance.
However, I can't help but wonder if it's really worth it. Just how much does it add to an overall style of a home?
The contrast against light walls is definitely eye-catching, and maybe that's the appeal. I do, however, like the idea of painting an interior door dark in order to tie in other dark elements in an otherwise light room.
Geometric Cement Tile
Tile is one of my favorite design elements, because it can alter the overall feel of a room so, so much. I was excited to see the showcase houses using tile in fun, updated ways.
While there was plenty of white Subway tile (it is a classic, after all), I was especially excited for geometric cement tile floors. Typically used in kitchens and bathrooms, they are a great way to make an otherwise dull room feel modern.
Dark Feature Walls
Dark, moody paint was definitely having a moment at the Showcase of Homes. I loved seeing it used in fun and unexpected ways, like this moody, paneled office that had the ceiling painted the same dark color as the walls.
While dark paint definitely makes a room feel smaller, there's no denying the visual interest and depth it adds to a space.
Not every house had an entire room painted dark; some chose to add the trend on a smaller scale with a dark feature wall.
Oh yes, reclaimed wood is yet another trend stemming from the farmhouse style bandwagon first introduced via Fixer Upper.
From fireplace mantels to feature walls (and those exposed ceiling beams!), the rustic wood trend was seen in several of the showcase homes. Overall, there is an obvious push for more organic, cozy and natural design elements, which makes me think the reclaimed wood trend is not going anywhere any time soon.
California Cool Influence
In my mind, the "California Cool" style is West Coast's version of Farmhouse Style.
California cool is both vintage yet modern, relaxed yet curated, bohemian yet luxe, with a healthy dose of desert-inspired pieces. I immediately thought of the lobby at the Goodland Hotel in Santa Barbara from our California road trip a few years back. That place was the epitome of California cool, so if you're looking to add a bit of that influence to your own space, you have to check it out.
Well? What did you think of Chattanooga's Showcase of Homes?
More specifically, how many of these trends do you have in your own home? I counted 10 in ours!
Be sure to check out the official Chattanooga Showcase website for more details on the houses and builders.