Doug Logan

Embracing Home Improvement Trends to Develop Inviting, Tech-Oriented Environments

When you picture the ultimate contemporary home, what comes to mind? Chances are, you envision clean lines and minimalist designs. These are visually appealing, of course, but they are by no means the only features that today's homeowners desire. Currently, many home improvement projects center around upgrades that expand access to leisure activities while also optimizing professional tasks and even fitness regimens.

As they seek increasingly specific upgrades, homeowners are still eager to try DIY projects, which often produce significant cost savings (and sweat equity) while also providing a major sense of satisfaction. Despite this, findings from the 2023 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends survey reveal that over eight in ten homeowners work with professionals when completing kitchen improvement projects.

The best return on investment comes when homeowners recognize which projects call for additional expertise — and when they can go it alone. Prioritizing is also key. Few homeowners can do it all, but tackling one exciting project at a time can produce major lifestyle upgrades, particularly when those renovations make homes not only more beautiful, but also, more livable.

Creating Livable and Purposeful Spaces

No matter who gets involved or which projects are pursued, it's increasingly clear that homeowners are eager to invest in their properties for the sake of improving function and flow. Resale value matters, of course, but the 2023 Houzz & Home Survey reveals that the majority of those who complete renovation projects intend to remain in their current home for at least another decade.

This intention is also evident based on the sheer variety of spaces that today's homeowners hope to add or remodel. Kitchens and bathrooms remain the most popular spaces for ambitious renovation projects, but they are by no means the only areas that homeowners are eager to tackle. Other examples include:

Home Offices

In an era of remote and hybrid work, professionals are no longer willing or able to get by with casual laptop browsing. Instead, many are putting more time, effort, and money into their offices, where they spend as much (if not more) time than the spaces that have traditionally received the bulk of the attention.

It takes more than the latest devices to transform home offices into pleasant and productive spaces. Lighting, ergonomics, and acoustics all matter, particularly for those who spend a significant share of their time on Zoom.

Remote working parents, in particular, desire professional environments where they can focus on the task at hand — hence the ever-increasing popularity of sophisticated soundproofing solutions. Other projects simply aim to span the divide between comfort and aesthetics.

There's no denying that workers of all types dedicate long hours to their home offices. Findings from a OnePoll survey indicate that 77 percent of people spend at least half of their time in their offices when they are home, far exceeding any awake time spent in other rooms. As such, they want to ensure that these spaces look professional enough to keep them on track — and to make the office seem just as enticing as the always-beckoning living room couch.

Done right, these transformations can have a huge payoff. A survey from video conferencing solutions company Owl Labs reveals that employees who work remotely on a full-time basis spend just $423 per month on work-related expenses, while those in the office part or full-time average $863 each month on work costs.

While data from the aforementioned OnePoll report suggests that remote workers invest $1,700 in their home offices, it's a price many are willing to pay to ensure that the perks of remote work aren't lessened by the distinct challenges that these setups can otherwise present. Moving forward, we anticipate even more luxurious upgrades that are personalized to meet the specific needs of each home-based professional.

Home Gyms

During the pandemic, fitness enthusiasts and novices alike realized that they could get all the exercise they require from the comfort of home. This spurred the proliferation of Zoom-based workouts and, of course, the iconic Peloton.

While many people have eagerly returned to the gym in the past few months, others still prefer the convenience of at-home workouts. In fact, findings from a 2022 GoodFirms survey indicate that well over half of fitness-minded adults exercise at home, with four in ten having invested in 'suitable' equipment that allows them to easily exercise without visiting the gym.

With a comfortable and inspiring space, it's possible to develop an enjoyable regimen that recreates the purpose-driven environment of the traditional gym. Often, these home-based setups include smart solutions, although there is still a clear role for treadmills and dumbbells to play. Still, there's no denying the boost of motivation that popular solutions such as the Peloton, Mirror, or Tonal can provide.

Other popular add-ons include:

  • Floor-to-ceiling mirrors, which allow fitness enthusiasts to easily check their form.
  • Built-in storage for yoga mats, exercise balls, kettlebells, and other equipment.
  • Recessed lighting to improve visibility without risking injuries from accidentally hitting fixtures.
  • Kitchenettes to keep water cool or even provide access to post-workout snacks.
  • Durable and easy-to-maintain flooring that delivers fitness studio vibes.

Outdoor Living

Many small homes provide ample opportunities to relax outside when the weather cooperates. The value of these spaces became especially evident when pandemic-era residents could only escape the confines of their homes by heading outdoors.

In results from a 2021 International Casual Furnishings Association survey, a whopping 90 percent of respondents agreed that their outside living areas were more important than ever before, with many stating their intention to remodel these spaces so they'd be even more inviting for relaxation, dining, and exercising.

Since then, outdoor living areas have remained a priority. Outdoor kitchens, in particular, are popular, with many homes now featuring not only traditional grills, but also, brick ovens and many other cooking amenities that make it easy to prepare and enjoy meals outside. Patio furniture purchases are among the most common outdoor upgrades, although many people are also intent on improving lighting, upgrading firepits, or even adding outdoor showers to the mix.

Many outdoor projects aim not only to develop attractive and functional spaces beyond the interior confines of the home, but also, to make the transition from inside to out feel more natural and convenient. Backyard or even outdoor mudrooms provide easy opportunities to discard footwear, stow backpacks, or otherwise move from one space to the next.

Many people favor modern folding doors, which, when opened, can create a seamless transition from indoors to outside. In compact homes, pocket doors provide space-saving solutions while granting quick access to the great outdoors. Strategic lighting solutions help the eyes easily adjust during this transition, so residents and guests can make greater use of outside spaces after dark.

Technological Trends in Home Improvement

No discussion of today's home improvement trends would be complete without an in-depth look at the increasingly prominent role technology plays in every part of the home. The right technological solutions can optimize every aspect of daily living, providing greater comfort and convenience while ushering in significant cost savings. Noteworthy tech improvements sought after by modern homeowners include:

Smart Home

The concept of the smart home no longer feels like science fiction; it's an expected part of new constructions and, increasingly integrated within older homes as well. An analysis of over 41 million homes reveals that the average U.S. household now includes over twenty connected devices.

Smart solutions are meant to make everyday life easier, but they aren't necessarily something that homeowners want to actively show off. Rather, subtle integration is the name of the game. If done right, these solutions will fade into the background, so that residents find that their homes are more inviting — but they aren't quite sure why.

Smart speakers and cameras are among the most popular tech-oriented features, but others worth considering include:

  • Smart lightbulbs
  • Smart plugs
  • Smart doorbells
  • Smart thermostats
  • Home hubs

With these and other upgrades, privacy is a huge area of concern. These days, homeowners desire the convenience of smart solutions but are worried that they will be vulnerable to data breaches. Headlines about cybercriminals exploiting smart doorbells can be downright terrifying, so careful selection is key. Some smart devices are more prone to interference than others; advanced lighting, for example, generally feels safe, whereas cameras provide more opportunities for cybercriminals to get involved.

At minimum, all upgrades should be accompanied by adjustments to security settings that go beyond default passwords. High-level routers are also essential, and, ideally these will incorporate VPNs. If possible, homes with numerous Internet of Things (IoT) devices should use separate WiFi networks, instead of relying on a single connection for every type of user or device.

Virtual & Augmented Reality

Traditionally, home improvement projects have required a major leap of faith, as it was often impossible to truly conceive the visual impact of a project before it was completed. This has changed, however, with a variety of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) solutions promising to provide a new level of insight without requiring an initial investment or commitment.

The best AR apps, for example, make it possible to visualize how homes will look once specific upgrades have been completed. This is a win-win for consumers and businesses, as data from Shopify suggests that products with AR capabilities enjoy 94 percent higher conversion rates.

As AR is more frequently built into the renovation process, new devices will be built to ensure that images are as accurate and as AR-friendly as possible. Samsung, for example, has created a depth-detecting Time of Flight (ToF) camera, while Apple expedites the process for creating 3D models with its Object Capture API.

Transforming the Home Improvement Market

Great things are in store for the fast-changing world of home renovation. Advanced technologies have converged with new concepts of home living, promoting uniquely functional spaces that allow many types of homeowners to pursue their idea of the good life. With the right resources, both modest and major upgrades can transform everyday routines and special celebrations, allowing our homes to be the places of connection and respite that we've always desired.

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