Top Remodeling Trends for 2017

By Paul F. P. Pogue

Jan. 6, 2017

Contractors say economic improvements will drive a big year.

Thanks to generational changes, economic improvement and good-old fashioned necessity, contractors say they expect an uptick in remodeling projects this year. And they foresee quite a few old standbys remaining trendy even as new developments affect the market.

Read on to learn about some of the most important remodeling trends for 2017.

Economic improvements boost remodeling business

Veteran remodelers say they’re seeing more and bigger projects come along. “Based on last year, there seems to be a lot of money freeing up and people doing remodeling projects and major additions,” says James Lebair, owner of JRL Design in Oreland, Pennsylvania. “Either that, or people have been holding off on projects so long that they don’t have a choice but to do them.”
Generational changes drive universal design

As Baby Boomers and Generation X get older, they see their family structure expanding in both directions. They frequently move elderly parents into their homes to more easily take care of them, and college graduates are more often returning home and remaining in place longer.

“We have families who want to expand in place and not move, and they’re looking to increase the space,” Lebair says. “And we’re seeing a lot of in-law suites for folks bringing their parents home to care for them.”

With these generational changes, universal design principles, which focus on accessibility and ease of use, have come to the forefront of remodeling. Elements of universal design include critical facilities such as bathrooms and bedrooms on the first floor to avoid climbing stairs, adding accessories such as handrails to make everyday tasks easier, and wider doorways to accommodate wheelchairs or other assistive equipment. Taken together, universal design principles help occupants of a wide range of age and ability levels remain in their homes as long as possible.

Paul Verga, owner of Versatile Improvements & Remodeling in Port St. Lucie, Florida, notes that he’s included such future-proofing principles in much of his work. “In any bathroom remodel we do for middle-aged or older customers, we beef up the walls and put more wood in there,” he says. “That gives more room and support to install handrails in the future.”

Kitchen and bathroom remodeling trends remain popular

Kitchens and bathrooms remain the center of many popular remodeling projects, and contractors see no change in that trendline. But within those tasks, different components come to the forefront.

Duane Ward, president of the David Hazen Group in Zionsville, Indiana, says he’s seeing a move away from bathtubs. “Large walk-in showers are very popular now,” he says. “Almost every upgrade we do is going to walk-in showers. People don’t use tubs anymore, and they appreciate the convenience. Walk-in showers have a cleaner, more sterile look.”

In kitchens and bathrooms alike, whites and shades of gray are the color tones of the year. “White is definitely making a strong comeback,” Verga says. “White subway tiles, white flooring, white cabinets. It’s a very retro, very clean look. What’s old is new again.”

Ward also points to luxury vinyl tile, or LVT, as a major trend in the future. “It’s been used commercially for some time and recently entered the residential market,” he says. “LVT is extremely durable, very thin, and virtually indestructible. It can look like tiles or wood. The product itself is a little more expensive than other materials, but installation is cheaper, which brings the price competitive with other materials.”

Granite and quartz countertops dominate kitchens

Kitchen and bathroom remodelers say quartz countertops have skyrocketed in popularity, and they don’t foresee that slowing down.

“Quartz has become very popular,” says Pasquale Mignone, owner of Able Construction and Design in Oakland Gardens, New York. “More so than ever, it’s a major product for us. It just seems to be the choice of customers, and manufacturers are constantly developing new styles and designs of quartz.”

Quartz remains a more expensive choice, and according to Ward, granite has moved into less expensive projects. “Everyone wants some sort of stone top rather than laminate, even in the lower-income market,” Ward says. “It’s worth their investment. You’d be amazed how many places we’re installing granite.”

Speaking of convenience, home automation remains a hot topic, especially as improving technology brings the price lower and in reach of more and more homeowners who are mulling remodeling projects.

“Home automation has become very popular, usually in conjunction with other remodeling projects,” Mignone says. “It’s one of the most popular things out there right now.”

In fact, new technologies drive many changes ranging from HVAC systems you can program from your phone to minor improvements in convenience. Ward notes he installs many USB outlets and LED light bulbs in major remodeling jobs.

Although even a few years ago, home automation was a “Jetsons”-style dream out of reach of all but the most affluent clients, the technology has moved into many price ranges since then.

“Those higher-end products aren’t always in people’s budgets,” Mignone says. “But they’re making a lot of them now that have the same features but are aimed at a budget market.”

Because of this dizzying array of options, Mignone advises customers to carefully do their homework. “Having all these materials available at your disposal is a big advantage, but it can be overwhelming,” he says. “We provide as much information as we can, but consider doing legwork to familiarize yourself with your options. See what’s available out there!”