The Home Trends We’ll See in 2020, As Predicted by Real Estate Pros

published Dec 18, 2019
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In my apartment, I’m up to my neck in disco balls, bottle brush Christmas trees, and fiddle leaf figs, so trust me when I say I understand that 2019’s biggest home trends are still going strong. Even though I’m still working up the courage to attempt a DIY pendant light upgrade without an electrician’s (or my dad’s) watchful guidance, I’m already obsessing over real estate trends to come.

Before you pack up your brass fixtures, terrazzo accents, and macrame, take some time to sneak a preview of what real estate experts say are the top home trends we’ll be checking off our lists in 2020.

Credit: Minette Hand

Minimalist kitchens

We’re currently in age of Marie Kondo, when tossing out appliances that bring us no joy (au revoir, blender) is all the rage. Whether removing unwanted kitchen clutter completely or cleverly concealing it, experts agree minimalism is key.

Licensed associate real estate broker Wendy Arriz has seen this firsthand in Manhattan: “I’ve seen people start to remodel homes or new developments where the kitchen cabinets look a little different to me.” The difference, Arriz explains, starts with storage. “I don’t see as many upper cabinets as the traditional design.”

This minimalist cabinet lends itself to a streamlined look. “Kitchens may be designed [to make] more of a design statement than a functional statement,” Arriz says.

Elissa Morgante, founding partner of Morgante Wilson Architects, concurs. “There’s definitely a trend toward modern, cleaner looks, achieved through everything from concealed appliances to slab stone backsplashes,” she says. Further, “Even in homes where the kitchen itself is tucked away, there’s a desire to remove unnecessary visual clutter so that it’s a more inviting space.” 

Speaking of tucked away kitchens, Frank Bodenchak, licensed salesperson and senior global real estate advisor for Sotheby’s, has seen this trend materializing in the Hamptons. Bodenchak describes “prep areas behind kitchens, which allow homeowners to entertain in the main kitchen, while food is prepared or warmed in the secondary area.” Talk about kitchen inception!

Thoughtful foyers

Where I live in Chicago, foyers seem nonexistent, with the typical apartment or condo entry leading directly into a dining room or living space. The design is objectively terrible. As such, I’m thrilled to hear about a resurgence of foyers not just in homes, but also in apartments and condos.

Per Liz Brooks, vice president of sales and marketing for Belgravia Group in Chicago, “The foyer is often overlooked in condominium design, but it is one of the most important elements of a floor plan because it evokes a grand sense of arrival.”

Having frequently entered a friend’s home only to have the first impression be of their boyfriend playing Xbox, I understand the allure of a mindful entrance. Says Brooks, “Buyers, especially those opting for a condominium in lieu of a single-family home, appreciate having a dedicated entryway that allows for a more graceful, defined transition to the rest of the home.”

The added sophistication is appreciated by those living in multi-unit buildings that might lack this classic home feature. Says Arriz, “I think there is like a little bit more of a pause when you walk into an apartment, because people do like that it adds elegance.”

Award-winning interior design firm Est Est, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, uses its foyers to set the tone for highlighting the breathtaking landscape of the Southwest. This is especially evident in their work on the renowned Optima Kierland luxury apartments and condominiums.

Says Optima, Inc. president and principal architect David Hovey Jr., “Something unique about Optima is that we allow near-complete customization for our condo buyers, so residents of our for-sale communities can create a home that suits their individual needs and reflects their design preferences—with the foyer often the first focal point, many residents choose to make it their own.” Their foyers serve to set the stage for the following rooms, which then showcase the landscape of the Southwest. 

Credit: Viv Yapp

Keeping palettes black and white

In addition to classic white, black is now developing a reputation as a household neutral. According to Morgante, “We’re seeing a trend toward more adventurous choices such as special dark, monochromatic and very saturated wall colors.

Black certainly fits into that category, and it can be very dramatic, classic, casual, or modern depending on how it’s used. There was a long period of time where people were intimidated by black or thought it was too goth, but that’s not the case anymore as they’ve seen—either through magazines, TV or the internet—how it can be used as a neutral to ground a space. We’re using it everywhere from whole rooms and accent walls to black-stained floors, cabinetry and trim.” 

A recent survey by Sherwin-Williams confirms the trend, with 66 percent of professional interior designer respondents sharing that black is now a new neutral. 

With that said, the more traditional white walls aren’t going anywhere in 2020. Bodenchak shares, “Clean palettes are in! Bright white has replaced off-whites and colors as the paint of choice. New home buyers are appreciating homes with straight lines, minimal trim, or even no trim (like no crown moldings) in favor of the busier trim popular a decade ago.”

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

Smart and savvy homes

No list of 2020 trends can be without tech advancements. With voice-activated services assisting us from turning off our lights to ordering takeout, our preference for—and even reliance on—technology is evident in upcoming home design.

Says Bodenchak, “All new constructions these days have some ‘smart’ home features, but to varying degrees. Most thermostats and pool equipment, for example, can be controlled remotely by the customer’s iPhone. But more expensive houses often take it to the next level, offering integrated control over heating/cooling, pool, music, theater, alarm, and video surveillance. More advanced homes offer remote lighting capabilities, allowing the homeowner to regulate lighting for certain paths, or their entire home, remotely.” 

Arriz has another tech-forward prediction for the new year: “It’s 5G. I don’t know how that will play a role in how homes are wired from a technology standpoint but certainly… that’s going to have some kind of effect going forward.”

As the nation braces itself for full deployment of the fifth generation of wireless technology, folks may find themselves enjoying not just faster, more efficient connection, but the opportunity for new devices, collaborations, and services to support our smart homes.

I know I personally am looking forward to the day I can start preheating my oven on my commute home. Here’s hoping 2020 will be my year!