This article wraps up our three-part series on emerging home trends that are transforming both residences and neighborhoods. Part one discussed incorporating warm, renewable surfaces, creating inviting playful spaces along with the growing importance of community gathering areas within neighborhoods. The second article in the series explored the emergence of surface-deep energy conservation, personalized use of space, transforming the home office and the creation of healthier homes. And finally, this piece looks at the importance of walkability, the changing face of fireplaces and what materials are being used for counter tops in the kitchen and bath. All of these trends are finding their way into residences in Mountain View, Menlo Park and Palo Alto.
1. The Walkable Suburb
As freeways and even local streets in the Silicon Valley become more and more crowded, the allure of being able to walk to local services, shopping and restaurants as well as to work and public transportation is on the rise. This has long been the appeal of urban living but this trend is seeping into suburban boroughs. This inclination is evidenced by the use of Walk Scores when marketing residential properties. For many residing in the Bay Area, being close enough to walk, bike or take public transportation is a key selling point of a property. Mountain View is a perfect example of the upward trend of walkability and much of its new residential development focuses on this desirable aspect.
2. Healthier Hearths
As homeowners transition their residences to be healthier and more energy efficient, wood burning fireplaces are becoming a thing of the past. Many cities have or are moving toward banning wood burning hearths because of the considerable air pollution they create. But the fireplace is a cozy, classic source of heat and ambiance that homeowners crave. Gas fireplaces have long been the replacement of choice for wood burning units but ventless hearths fueled with bio-ethanol are another increasingly viable option. They are easy to install, produce no soot or ash and come in wall mount or freestanding units. For those looking for the traditional fire experience, outdoor hearths are popular solutions for those who enjoy a fireplace that uses wood.
3. Countertop Options
Counter top materials are also being affected by the trend toward green materials. A new counter top can quickly enhance and update a kitchen or bathroom. Surpassing the popularity of granite are quartz and quartzite, which are expected to be the counter top material frontrunners in the foreseeable future thanks to their durability and beauty. But, green laminate options are also gaining a foothold and not just among those who are budget-minded. These modern engineered surfaces have come a long way from their predecessors. Today’s laminate offers the look of stone, wood, distressed metal and concrete coupled with quick installation over existing counter tops and resistance to staining and scratching.