Written by Wayne Visbeen, AIA, IIDA, principal & founder of Visbeen Architects, Inc.

Looking at past trends can leave you wondering: why did I ever think that was a good idea? Imagine a homebuyer thinking, “Gee, I hope there are laminate countertops.” Or the family of three begging, pleading for separation, for more walls instead of open-concept living. Trends come and go, though, some concepts will never die. Today, I’ll share five hot trends I’m seeing in home design and how I’ve incorporated them into my own projects.


Rightsizing is taking the space you have and making the best use of it. It involves a careful analysis of places in the home, how they are used and how they could be better used. A large family may not need a massive home but a well thought out design instead. A larger home requires more furnishings, more expense and higher energy consumption. One example of rightsizing I’ve noticed when designing a home for clients is the declining desire for a traditional dining room. Let’s be real, how often do we actually use a formal dining space? Instead, these square feet are being utilized to create a larger great room with an eat-in kitchen. While preparing the meal, the host can stay involved rather than be cloistered on the other side of the house. This space is great for entertaining and is also utilized by the family every day.

Flex Rooms

Flex rooms are a great way to strategically furnish and design a room for a plethora of purposes. If I’m designing a guest bedroom, for example, I can use a Murphy bed to disguise this “bedroom” as an office or even an in-home theater. Slide over the couch or desk and fold down the bed to convert for the in-law’s visit from out of town. Using flex rooms is a great way to give your space versatility while minimizing square footage.

Storage Solutions

Unsightly clutter has a way of making a space feel small and disruptive. Even the smallest rooms can be packed with storage solutions, it’s just a matter of being creative. In my own home, I have incorporated a variety of built-in cabinetry to maximize the out-of-sight storage. Built-in shelving in my kids’ shared bedroom provides a place for them to store and organize their toys. Fabric totes added to these shelves keep clutter at bay. Fairly inexpensive, these drawers can be replaced as the kids age and their color choices mature. Below their beds, I have integrated pull-out drawers for clothing.

The Use of Fire

Electric fireplaces can be installed anywhere

When I’m designing a space, I like to use fireplaces to add a sense of warmth and relaxation. With the way that the hearth category continues to evolve, it’s allowing me as a designer to put fireplaces in places I could only dream of. With the use of electric fireplaces, I can economically integrate fireplaces into places like kitchens and master bathrooms to add ambiance and comfort. With electric, the heat feature can be turned off or even run as a fan instead. This also enables a wider range of possibilities when it comes time to choose a surround. Unlike wood burning and most gas fireplaces, we can choose surrounds that use materials like wood or drywall and even hang televisions and artwork much closer to the fireplace itself.

Outdoor Living

Electric fireplaces can be installed anywhere

Today, more of our fondest memories with good friends, good food and good times, occur outdoors. The typical patio or deck with chairs, a table and grill are now being upgraded to complete outdoor rooms that incorporate many indoor amenities. The integration for indoors to outdoors is architecturally seamless, and includes full outdoor kitchens, dining spaces, overhead lighting and ceilings and more. It’s about creating a total experience, so I’ve been incorporating amenities such as fireplaces and fire tables into my designs. They add beauty and heat that extend seasonal usage. These spaces are great for entertaining large parties without the claustrophobia of the indoors. Once a homeowner has an outdoor living space, they wonder why they didn’t add one sooner.

I continue to embrace these emerging trends when designing homes for my clients. Though they are ‘trends’, I can’t image any homebuyer complaining about too much storage, a fireplace or an outdoor kitchen space. Visit the Napoleon Fireside Blog for further design insights and more.

Meet Wayne Visbeen

Wayne Visbeen, AIA, IIDA, principal, and founder of Visbeen Architects, Inc., is known for his one-of-a-kind home designs. Visbeen works with clients to understand the important aspects of their vision and then transforms these into a conceptual sketch right before their eyes. Winner of more than 100 Residential Design Awards and dozens of Best in American Living Awards, Visbeen incorporates these themes and more into his designs and his own home, located in Grand Rapids, Mich.