Spring has officially sprung, and after years of chilled sales, the home building industry has never been happier to put winter behind it and turn its attention to the most active selling season of the year. But many of the plans builders will be putting into action this year will look significantly different than they might have a few years ago, morphed by changing economic conditions and an increased emphasis on design features that can help differentiate new homes from used—and particularly distressed—units. To offer a gauge on what’s happening in home design today, Heather McCune, director of marketing at Bassenian/Lagoni Architects, and Victor Mirontschuk, president of architecture firm EDI International, recently presented at a webinar hosted by the National Association of Home Builders to talk about the latest and greatest in design trends. Both presenters acted as judges, along with Builder Senior Editor Amy Albert, for this year’s Best in American Living Awards, and drew on winning projects for visual illustrations of the styles defining today’s home designs.

Trend 1: Classic Yet Contemporary Interiors

If the economic challenges facing the housing industry have had an upside, it may just be simplified designs that have replaced clutter with classic good looks. "Today’s elevations are cleaner and simpler" says Mirontschuk. Ornate decoration has given way to simple elegance, with a big emphasis on natural light. New technologies have also opened up possibilities for simple but beautiful architectural details by providing inexpensive versions of products that used to be restricted to the high end of the market. (Photo Credit: Mid Coast Studio)

Trend 2: Outdoor Living Space as an Extension of Indoor Living Space

Outdoor living is no longer restricted to the Sun Belt and California. Consumers across the country are looking for designed outdoor spaces that integrate with and act as an extension of interiors, and a simple patio just won’t do. Fortunately, there are more products than ever available to open up large expanses of walls, blurring boundaries and expanding floor plans both physically and visually. (Photo Credit: Harvey Smith Photography)