Custom Home Building Trends Spotted on 2013 Luxury Home Tour

For eight summers I have experienced the excitement of Midwest Home’s Luxury Home Tour, first attending as a newlywed, two years later going as an expectant mother, three years later as the parent of a chubby newborn and an active three-year-old, and in the past few years, as the LHT preview writer/editor, commemorative issue editorial contributor, and roll-up-your-sleeves staff member who helps get the homes ready with necessary signage and promotional materials.

And just as my family (and my involvement with the show) has changed since 2005, the homes themselves have also changed. Today’s luxury homes are being built on both big parcels of land and on modest city lots; there’s a lot more flexibility in how rooms are being used, and homeowners are thinking ahead with accessible features for aging-in-place (stepless entries, wider doors, elevators, etc).

I love this tour, not only because it showcases some of the best building talent in our state, but also because it provides me with a front-row seat to luxury, encourages dreams of what “could be,” and gives me the opportunity to see the hottest custom building trends. (I use the word ‘trends’ loosely, as trends come and go, and I think most of these features are just too good to ever go away.)

Last week I had the opportunity to tour all 17 of the beautiful homes on this year’s Tour, and the majority of the homes had the following in common:

• Family command centers (aka resource centers) off the kitchen provide a spot for working on a laptop, doing homework, paying bills, etc.—a great place to ‘work’ without feeling isolated from the rest of the family. 

• Large garages are doubling as man caves.

• There is definitely more of an emphasis on energy efficiency, from compact fluorescent lightbulbs to geothermal heating.

• There are very few custom homes that don’t utilize open sightlines on main floors. By eliminating walls and hallways on the main floor, the space feels bigger and more inviting.

• More and more homeowners are choosing not to incorporate formal dining spaces into their homes—rationalizing that these rooms are often only used only during holidays and special occasions—and incorporating rooms (like music rooms and libraries) that can be used year-round.

• Technology is king. Homeowners can now run their home entertainment, security system, appliances, and lighting from their smartphone or iPad. Even some windows have the technology to alert homeowners if the windows are open or closed (especially helpful if a family is on vacation).

• The basement, or lower level, is often designed as not only a space for the adults to entertain friends and family (I’ve seen so many different types of intricate bars I honestly don’t know that I could choose a favorite), but also a space for the kids to hang out—with sport courts, game areas, and home theaters.

• Wine cellars are in, ranging from the capacity to store a few hundred bottles to storing thousands.

Join me at this year’s Luxury Home Tour, taking place the first three weekends in June. I like to think of it as the tour of champagne wishes and caviar dreams. Hope to see you there!