Architect’s Corner: Designing For Luxury Living

How Modern Design Trends Are Changing

by Michael Moritz, principal architect, Stonewater Architecture

One of the top design trends that we have been seeing is sleek kitchens, many featuring dual spaces and less cabinetry.  Within these dual spaces the kitchen area and large dining area for family are adjacent to the sleeked down kitchen or the kitchen with less cabinetry.  We see larger walk-in pantries with plenty of storage and small chef’s kitchens, such as a scullery for preparing food and cooking, and many of the kitchens have spaces for stowing away large appliances like mixers and blenders while other appliances like coffee machines are integrated into the cabinetry for a sleeker and cleaner finish space. 

         Bathrooms have become a place to retreat as a sanctuary.  Luxury homes are looking for bathrooms that allow people to shake off the day’s stresses and reset.  Bathrooms evolving into spaces that are large and well-designed give a spa-like or resort feel.  Luxury bathrooms include high-level finishes, stone choices to elegant fixtures and layered lighting, large windows, large showers with multi-shower heads, and the soaker tub is back.  Vanity areas are larger with plenty of light to get ready.  We also design secondary spaces for make-up vanities, and we’ve also seen steam rooms and saunas be integrated into our bathrooms.

         Over the years I’ve seen rooms become open spaces and now we’re moving back to semi-enclosed spaces as an open plan no longer works with people being home after the pandemic.  There is a need for spaces to work or multi-functional spaces for different members of the home to work, to learn, to play, or to simply relax.  Sometimes this is all taking place at the same time as the floor plan allows, and its dedicated spaces and privacy needs are to be met in new homes.  Closed floor plans sometimes work by adding walls to create more actual rooms.  With the use of dividers, we can create nooks and give a cozier feel where one can retreat to do these tasks. 

         Another thing in luxury homes are wellness spaces.  We see spaces for self-care such as yoga, meditation rooms, gyms, and saunas.  We even see the occasional indoor basketball or pickle ball court.  People are looking not to venture out, but to stay at home and have that resort lifestyle and all their needs met.  In colder areas, we have heated walkways and heated pools and hot tubs on the outside for year-round use.

         The home office is still a big thing of a luxury home that we have been designing.  Clients that are working from home want to set up a time that they can go on calls, work freely, and have privacy, while at the same time not disrupting their family and everything that’s going on outside of the office.  An addition to a home office we’ve been seeing is a rise in pocket offices.  Even if we have the main office, the pocket office is located off of a hallway as a place for someone to go to do homework or the head of the house to have a place to do bills and plan the day for the family.  One of the things I see right now is mixing of styles such as the marriage of modern elements with vintage pieces, especially those inspired by and collected during the homeowners’ travels or handed down over time through family. 

         Inside, our floor plans have moved away from locating the staircase in the central foyer.  In many homes that we create, the owner has a central foyer that opens directly into the living space and the staircase is tucked off to the side either behind the main foyer or closer to living areas and does not invite people upstairs as they enter the home into the foyer. 

         With the semi-open plans and open floor plans, we are using more varied ceiling treatments to distinguish areas in the open plan, defining a sense of space in that plan.  Millwork is also an intricate part of what we do to create a certain feel.  People are looking to rediscover millwork details from midcentury modern and sleeker millwork details. 

         Overall, I have seen floor plans change over the years.  The main living areas are all located on the first floor and integrated to flow with the exterior spaces of the home to create an indoor-outdoor space and resort-like feel.  Spaces are no longer grand, large spaces.  They are the opposite, being cozy spaces for the family to enjoy.  Spaces have large areas of glass and ample light to flow throughout the rooms.  The spaces are set up to the way the owner of the home lives comfortably each day.  Bedrooms of the home have become hotel suites, each having a bedroom, a bathroom, and a walk-in closet.  The primary bedroom has become a resort luxury feel, with large bathrooms and his-and-her walk-in closet.  The bedrooms have become smaller, and the sitting room has been removed.  The exterior spaces are incorporated around a pool and typically include small intimate spaces for seating, dining, the fire pit area, and covered entertaining area.

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