Applause for Senate passage of Farm Bill
The National Association of Home Builders formally praised the House and Senate on Tuesday for passing the Farm Bill, which maintains the USDA’s maps defining rural areas and helps millions of Americans maintain access to rural housing programs.
"NAHB commends House and Senate leaders for working in a bipartisan manner to pass legislation that allows more than 900 communities nationwide to retain their status as ‘rural’ areas where residents have access to important USDA rural housing programs that help low- and very-low income households obtain homeownership or suitable rental housing," said NAHB chairman Rick Judson.
The Farm Bill essentially extends the definition of a rural area to a population of 35,000 until after the 2020 census. The maps drawn after the 2010 census would have removed many communities from rural housing programs due to their populations.
According to the NAHB, the "rural community definition" provision will generate $1.2 billion more investment in housing in these regions.
BALA trend outlook points to spa-like design
Las Vegas — A small panel of home design experts offered their two cents on emerging residential trends at the International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas. All bets are on a clean, minimal luxury now common in many hotels and spas.
"Houses are becoming more like spas," said Victor Mirontschuk of EDI International. "They’re becoming more like a retreat where [homeowners] want to go at the end of the day. It’s like they’re on vacation."
The presentation, titled "Design Trends from the Best in American Living Award Winners," extrapolates on the leading trends among the winners of the Best in American Living Awards (BALA), which are often prescient in predicting mainstream trend sweeps across the nation.
Among these trends are a white on white aesthetic, open layouts that blur the lines between inside and outside spaces, and dual master baths, which are often conjoined by a shared shower with transparent features.
As homeowners lean toward clean, minimalistic design, simpler materials such as quartz are being favored over granite, says Mary DeWalt of Mary DeWalt Design Group.
Additionally, smaller lot spaces are encouraging a bolder, dramatic use of space in addition to a prevalence of open layouts. Bold exterior colors are replacing the beiges and grays of yesteryear and are being used in increasingly creative ways, such as color-blocking. Interior courtyards are also catching on, which are often used to showcase private amenities like pools and firepits in both multifamily and single-family buildings.
With or without the use of courtyards, "out-of-the-box amenities" are generally becoming a major selling point. These can include anything ranging from communal kitchens for cooking classes to pools with lazy rivers, dog parks, electric car charging stations and theater rooms.
Moving into 2014 and 2015, there’s a continued focus on mixing old and new. Rustic, vintage styles and reclaimed materials are updated with modern touches via color, finish, texture and specialty, over-the-top light fixtures (pendants especially).
Ultimately, technology may continue to play an increasingly significant role in home design as connected/smart home features catch on. More homeowners are requesting USB outlets in their kitchens, bathrooms and nightstands, according to the panel.