Architecture, like any visual, design-centered element, has trends. Some themes resurface after a few years (such as the revival of mid-century modern), while other stylistic additions recede as improvements hit the market.
We also see elements of design that reflect larger social movements such as ecological preservation and renewable resources. Take for instance solar panels and roofing materials. New photo voltaic advancements allow for solar energy collection within a unique roof shingle. There are also roofing shingles made from recycled tire rubber.
What will the future bring? No one knows for sure, but as we near 2017, these are the exterior design trends to watch.
1. Porch details like you see on Craftsman-style homes are holding steady as a home addition. For those who don't have a lot size or setup that allows for an expansive outdoor living space, a porch with a personalized design provides space for entertaining and everyday activities.
2. Minimal maintenance materials like fiber cement siding and fiberglass doors and windows. Hybrid or engineered building elements last longer without as much upkeep as their predecessors. A bonus to homeowners is a sturdier structural envelope that is more resilient to the weather conditions than traditional construction supplies are.
3. Universal design or barrier-free design that focuses on making a house safe and accessible for everyone, regardless of his or her age or physical ability. These features are plentiful, including handrails and guardrails, plus wider entry doors and slip-resistant paint, which assist residents in wheelchairs.
4. Natural light enhancers like transom windows harness solar power in a passive fashion. Architects in sunny cities like Las Vegas strategically position houses on lots and incorporate windows to maximize light without affecting the interior climate.
5. Building materials derived from sustainable sources. Some of these substances include construction techniques that are hundreds, if not thousands, of years old.
Rammed earth, for one, is making its way back into the spotlight. Using rebar or bamboo as reinforcing and safety components, contractors pack dirt into forms and then assemble the prefabricated parts to complete the house.
Manufacturers are also using recycled ingredients as additives to concrete. You'll find plastic and even recycled glass as components in concrete mixes.
6. Eco-friendly landscaping. Droughts continue to affect vast areas of the United States, making water more expensive and decreasing its availability. Landscape architects now incorporate native species into their schematics, along with permeable pavement and reusable materials.
Rainwater harvesting systems to irrigate gardens and yards expand the renewable resource theme. One such system is a retaining wall that doubles as a rain catcher and is now available in the residential construction market.
7. Outdoor living areas are extensions of the home and seem to be here to stay. Porch swings are now platform beds, and kitchens are in the backyard.