For property owners looking to build, or homeowners looking to add on to their house, choosing an architect and a style of architecture can be intimidating. After all, every imaginable vision can be put on paper and eventually built, so your options are nearly limitless.
Going Against the Grain
For some, it's only natural to design a home which looks to be in harmony with its surroundings. This could mean a country-style cottage if your property is wooded or a sleek, modern home if your property is more urban.
However, one of the biggest trends in architecture today is to buck these traditional notions and make your house truly stand out. In the examples we've just used, this could mean many things. Perhaps your wooded, secluded property would perfectly set off and highlighted by a stark, modern structure. Many people love the way a blocky, geometric house looks sitting in the middle of a forest, since the sharp contrast makes each element stand out.
On the other hand, there are those who find a country cottage even more charming when placed in an urban, concrete setting. There is something wonderfully unexpected about a yard full of wildflowers and a quaint, traditional home sitting in a sleek, concrete cityscape.
This trend can be applied to virtually any setting. Perhaps you love the look of a Cape Cod style home, but you're building in an area where Victorian houses dominate the streets. The uniqueness of your home will make it stand out, instead of blending in and being just another house on the street.
Perhaps the most common variation on this idea is placing a very modern home in an area which has many older, traditional structures. More and more people are buying older homes, tearing them down and erecting these eye-catching new structures. Large windows and geometric designs usually dominate, making the house stand out dramatically from its neighbors.
Good Things in Small Packages
Gone are the overly large, status-symbol houses that were so prevalent just a few years ago. While the demand for those oversized homes was driven, for the most part, by a desire to have the biggest and best of everything, the focus is shifting. Today's home builder is realizing that truly huge homes (unless you have a huge family to fill them with) are simply unnecessary. Just as large trucks are slowly being eclipsed by small, fuel-efficient cars; huge homes are in less demand.
One of the great things about a smaller home is that once you live in it, you realize that you never actually needed all that extra space! Smaller homes bring families closer together, they cut down on energy bills, and they're easier to maintain. In addition, when a home is small, the homeowner can concentrate more on design and decoration. For most people, a smaller home which truly reflects their style and personality is much better than a huge, expansive mini-mansion devoid of any real warmth.
Green is Here to Stay
There's simply no way to avoid the green movement, and thankfully, it's' a movement that nobody really wants to avoid! Environmentally-friendly methods of building and design have taken over the world of modern architecture, and with good reason. While some green methods are initially more expensive, the long-term payoff in lower utility bills and impact on the environment more than make up for the initial payout.
Green no longer means unsightly, either. In the past, some earth-friendly methods of designing a home were less than gorgeous. Today, you literally can't tell the difference. Designing solar panels into a home is much more easy and attractive than adding them later. The same is true for features such as responsible rain drainage (permeable surfaces instead of solid concrete).
In some areas, these green features will not be optional for much longer. In fact, some states have already made certain green building practices mandatory.
If you've always been ecologically-minded, this will be a simple adjustment and a welcome change. If you're new to the world of green living, don't be intimidated. There are many architects who specialize in environmentally friendly structures, and more are choosing this field every day.
Along with the overall green movement is a big increase in the use of healthy alternatives for indoor building materials. While many have suspected it for years, recent studies have shown that many of the materials we've relied on for building, such as cabinet, walling and flooring materials, can actually be toxic. It's the chemicals in these materials, usually left over from their production, which are the real issue.
Sustainability is another big trend, with traditional hardwoods being tossed aside in favor of greener, more sustainable materials such as bamboo.
In building a healthy home, you need to look at every element. After all, a house designed to exacting environmental standards on the outside can still literally poison its residents if the right materials aren't chosen for the interior. An experienced green architect can guide you through the sometimes-confusing process of choosing the best materials.
The air inside your new home is another area for concern. An HVAC system which meets the newest guidelines is essential to ensure that any toxins which do invade your home are dispatched quickly, and that outdoor pollutants are eliminated as well. New methods of air filtering have made it possible to have extremely high-quality air in your home.
Today's architecture trends are really focused on two things...health and individuality. A home that's healthy for your and your family while also being healthy for the environment is something everybody wants these days. In addition, many of these green homes are being built to stand out from the crowd. No matter what your style is, an architect who truly understands your needs and desires can help you create a home that's sure to welcome you for years to come.