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HomeHomes
Published: Wednesday, 2/20/2008

What's Hot in the Home?

(ARA) - Think you know all the latest trends? From metallic frocks to chunky knits -- if an item is hot this season, chances are, you're wearing it. But what about home trends? In today's consumer world, how you dress your home can be just as important as how you dress your body. Have you ever stopped to think of whether your living space is on the cutting edge?

During a recent presentation at Moen Incorporated's INSPIRE Design Seminar, leading consumer trends advisory firm Iconoculture discussed its consumer outlook for the home, including where we live, how we live and the movement toward a greener, smarter and more soothing abode.

Glamorous Greening

When it comes to home decor, consumers are going green -- and saving green -- with energy-conserving solutions and practical eco-friendly home products that don't skimp on style. Examples include energy-efficient appliances and furniture made from rapidly renewable resources. Other new items in green home decor include wall coverings, like MIO's PaperForms, made of 100 percent post- and pre-consumer waste paper, and water-saving showerheads, such as Moen's new 1.75 gallons per minute model, which offers a 30 percent water savings from the industry standard 2.5 gallons per minute showerhead while maintaining a satisfying shower experience.

Leading the way in the emerging sustainability trend are so-called "LOHAS," or Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability consumers, first-time homeowners and empty-nesters. However, according to Timothy Henderson, Iconoculture senior director and consumer strategist, going green is not just a fad among elite environmentalists. "Twenty years from now, people will expect to find environmentally responsible, sustainable products," says Henderson.

Tech-savvy Habitat

From the living room to the bathroom, Americans are getting wired. According to Iconoculture experts, technology is the home consumer's new best friend. From "smart homes" that offer homeowners the convenience to control appliances, sprinklers, security systems, curtains and media components from a single-touch panel to "intelligent homes" that monitor what the consumer is doing and use this information to set preferences from a secure server, home technology is available at many different levels.

Leading the tech-savvy home trend are working families, older adults looking to upgrade their current home and those with multiple homes. These groups rely on the convenience of technology to simplify their lives. Outside of these demographic hotspots, popular tech choices making their way into the mainstream include virtual photo storage, smart appliances and furniture and fixtures embedded with technology.

Design Therapy

Forget the therapist -- great decor is the new path to healing and restoration. According to Nissa Hanna, Iconoculture associate director and consumer strategist, the trend is "more about appreciation of good design, not just for the sake of good design, but for better living." Hanna explained that today's design is all about experience -- aspiring to create customized comfort and functionality.

Among those leading the trend toward extreme home personalization are multigenerational home dwellers needing both common and personal space, Generation X "blenders" who mix work and life, home artisans, young cosmopolitan consumers and empty nesters. To create this level of personalization, homeowners are gravitating toward unique items like the Puzzle Floor, solid hardwood flooring that is put together like the pieces of a puzzle, and the Loftcube, a customizable pod-like prefabricated unit, complete with kitchen and bath, that can be added to any property -- from rooftop to open field.

Trends of Tomorrow

Beyond current trends, Iconoculture experts put several items on their watch list for the future. Trends to watch among seniors, the fastest growing segment of the population, include "aging in place," rejecting the idea of a retirement community to continue living in the traditional home; and "luxe retirement," redefining retirement with luxuries such as multiple homes and extra spending money.

When it comes to where Americans live, the trend is either toward tall or sprawl -- consumers are choosing to pile into urban environments where everything is at your doorstep or spreading out into more rural areas to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Also on the home trend horizon, Hanna discussed the concept of the "healthy home -- a home that does not contribute to air pollution." She also talked about home as fashion, where design is much more fluid, interchanging high- and low-end pieces that don't necessarily match, to get an eclectic and inspired look.

Today's trends are all about improving your home and ensuring a better tomorrow for yourself, your family and your world. When updating your home's look, design carefully -- make it smart and sustainable to improve your quality of life for years to come. Courtesy of ARAcontent



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