Gloria Vanderbilt meets Chip Gaines
Is the world ending when a cockroach eating, costume wearing Texan dictates America’s new home construction and decorating style? Possibly… but then again, it could forecast a new world order – an era where you don’t need a pedigree, but you gotta ooze charm!
Chip and Joanna kick down every wall that doesn’t conceal a bed or toilet and then undress the fussy formal rooms – well, now room – with shiplap siding and white paint. It’s so fresh the Property Brothers want a piece of the same action, but their non-accents keep them from cart wheeling with the same goof-ball spirit that Chip can muster! And bless her, Flip or Flop’s Christina El Moussa, aka Barbie, clearly shops at the Silo before strapping on the stilettos for an Open House. Score one for the South!
What does all of this say for local Louisiana style? First, while imitation may fatten the wallets of the Gaines’ Magnolia Market, it can’t hurt builders and renovators. Everyone wants an open concept floor plan. Deconstruction should top the list of renovation projects - but only if you’re spotlighting the new kitchen design. Is granite still everywhere? Yes. Whether Joanna hauls in concrete or her children’s artwork under glass, granite reigns supreme. With overuse comes price stability – even Mike Rowe’s dog can install this stuff – and it’s a super durable natural stone. Wealthy New York taste-makers might crown engineered animal hide as the next big thing, but for resale, nothing beats granite. In the hopes of stirring up appliance sales, stores keep predicting the death of stainless steel and yet it continues to be the little black dress at the party. Timeless. Similarly, that scarred wood flooring Mom covered with trendy avocado green shag in the 70's now epitomizes high style. Tumbled stone, Carrera marble, teak, cork... if the good Lord made it, it will hold value longer than any chemical concoctions can.
How does technology figure into today's renovations and new construction? Well... a lot AND not much! Obviously, smart builders use the latest proven systems and materials. Over the last decade, tankless water heaters encouraged the endless shower, air conditioning units slimmed up and shut up, and toilets soared to new heights. However, the home gadget industry, like the housing bubble, splattered all over investors in the late 2000's. If you built with whole house music systems; complicated phone, security, and internet wiring; built-in speakers; remote control lighting; high tech televisions and the like; the new WiFi routers, tiny shelf speaks, smart phone apps, and the next generation flatscreens eclipsed the old technology in price point, ease of use, and quality. Those twenty-five CAT-5 drops that made your house an internet lover's dream in 2003, now uselessly clutter the wall as surely as phone jacks in a cell obsessed culture. The lesson gleaned from the nation's huge technology advances? Shake each building or remodeling choice through the gadget sifter and ask yourself if this "latest" system will outlive the next I-phone upgrade.
Now... with Chip chiseling down walls in the home and gadgets joining dinosaurs at the disco party, what classic features maintain a home's value? Nothing says ageless like interior brick. Smart renovators cover that old 70's brick fireplace with a white wash of paint just like Sam Smith samples Tom Petty and packages it for the next generation. Interior brick feature walls have outlasted skylights, sliding glass doors, and spindles. Whether it's a beautiful brick recovered from a 1800's chalet or a brick that screams "paint me", you can't go wrong investing in the texture of interior brick. In the South, a dining space, not necessarily one walled with antique china cabinets (or walled at all), but a dining space that seats at least eight people preserves the Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving fantasy rooted as deeply as the sprawling oaks.
Outside of the open concept living spaces, each room should perhaps own a closet and some semblance of privacy to preserve the home's resale value. Unless you have a 50 percent equity interest in the home or an income that gets you to that point quickly, consider steering clear of dedicated hobby nooks, formal living rooms, play rooms, sun rooms, and exercise rooms when building. This doesn't mean you can't turn one of your bedrooms into an office, it just opens the home to a wider variety of future potential buyers if you maintain its flexibility. By all means, lay that wood floor in the "office," but just build a closet and adopt a layout that avoids a foyer opening. This way, the next owner can make the room fit his or her needs.
Often either home sites and/or owners require specialized rooms and features, but what rooms appeal to the wider real estate market? Home offices top the list of dedicated room demands although with smart phones, I-pads, and cloud storage, a cool designer will soon create the home office chair complete with an all-in-one computer mount hiding in one arm rest, a keyboard and office tray sliding down the other arm, speakers and a microphone in the head rest, and paper storage and a wireless printer under the seat... (patent pending... well, not really, but I wish) . Parent's also request dedicated television and game rooms for teens hoping to isolate the machine guns assaults from their Call of Duty missions. A second living space can transition from children's playroom to teen gaming to hobby room to exercise room, to man cave if carefully placed in the floor plan.
Just remember, if you're building or renovating, the smart money sticks to HGTV. Luckily, you don't have to funnel cockroaches... just study style, and maybe a few of Joanna's well practiced eye rolls!