Now that you’ve had a chance to see what millennial buyers are looking for in their homes, lets’ take a closer look at the project I completed earlier this year for the 2016 International Builder Show, and see what elements were chosen with respect to millennials and how you can incorporate some of the same strategies in your own design work.
Front Elevation of the Modern Farmhouse at Sunset.
View of the outdoor space from the side of the house. You enter into this space before you even go through the front door. We were fortunate enough to have had a lot of input in the early stages of planning and design development with the architect team at Bassenian Lagoni. Because of this early involvement, we were able to program several outdoor spaces. One of the things that you’ll see that we did to give millennials not only more actual outdoor space, but the illusion of additional overall living space was to make the flooring continuous from indoor to out. That’s why we chose a wood-look plank tile from Daltile, which is pretty indestructible and easy to clean. It has the effect of making the entire home feel even more visually expansive than it is. You would never guess it’s only 2,100 S.F. when you’re inside.
Entry from the Kitchen. One of the things we mentioned that millennials are looking for with respect to their homes is something with custom features. The inside volume of the entry extends up to the second level and follows the angles of the steep roof gable, which really creates a very open feel that reads anything but cookie cutter. Custom details like this give character to a space (and aren’t always typical builder features!).
A shot of the living room. Millennials appreciate functional floor plans that offer opportunities to entertain. This home utilized the connection to the outdoors to make the entire lower level so well-suited to having parties. Again, the tech that we featured was smart tech, but not overdone. We had the home’s climate controls, entertainment systems and televisions all hooked up to one automated system (Crestron by Audiovision). Everything is accessible from an ipad or on an app on your phone. Another smart partnership for people to consider is a company such as Solar City, which will come out to your home and fit you with solar panels, but only if they calculate that doing so will save you money. There is no out of pocket expense to the homeowners, so it’s really a no brainer, and great for the environment!
The Farmhouse Kitchen. One of the things that we are a fan of, especially in houses that aren’t super large, is using a consistent material palette throughout the homes. We used the same white carrera marble and subway tile for the kitchen as well as the bathrooms. When you take a space and cut it up a lot, making each powder room, bathroom or wetspace different in terms of materials, you in effect lose continuity, and it can make things feel smaller. Think more in terms of cohesion. Also note the faux beams. They gave the space architecture on a budget!
Basic white subway tile with a black grout. Another thing we really like, especially with respect to designing for first time buyers, who want some visual interest and good design that doesn’t break the bank, is using basic materials such as this super inexpensive white subway tile with something less expected like a dark grout. It’s not a new idea; we didn’t reinvent the wheel here, but consider something classic and affordable like this when you’re designing for millennials.
The front guest suite. This space is right off the front entry by the stairs. It can serve as a guest suite with connection to the rest of the house, but it also has it’s own kitchenette, bathroom and side entry. This type of standalone unit offers new millennial buyer’s a lot of flexibility to grow with a home. It has so many uses, including a suite for a multigenerational family member to age in place, yet still have some privacy, an income suite for AirBnb or a traditional roommate situation, or a separate home office. It can also just be a regular bedroom! Many people renovate older homes to include these spaces. We thought, why not build one right into a new home?
The home features not one, but TWO potential income suites. The Casita, Spanish for “Little House,” is at the back of the house above the garage. This space has all the same features as the unit in the front, but is completely closed off to the rest of the house. Again, FLEXIBILITY. It’s nice for new home buyers to know that the potential to generate income from the home they already own is built right into their space, so if anything changes with their income, they are able to adapt and don’t have to go through what their parents may have experienced in 2008.
A shot of the loft. We used a lot of West Elm pieces, as the price point was well suited to a first time home owner, and the aesthetic is perfect for this home.
Master Bedroom. We used a fantastic product called Stikwood. They’re real wood pieces, about 1/8” thick that are sustainably collected from salvage and add really fantastic character to an accent wall. It’s easy enough to install yourself. Be sure to first apply a dark coat of paint to the wall behind. This way, you won’t have white showing through any of the imperfect gaps in between planks. Another tip: Even though the pieces are self adhesive, in certain climates you may want to consider using liquid nails as an added precaution to ensure a good adhesion. In the Las Vegas climate, we had to let the product acclimate before installing. Ship to the construction site a week or two early, and let the product adjust to the humidity levels and local climate.
Master Bathroom. We carried the wood plank tile into the bathrooms, again to keep a consistent material palette and add a layer of warmth. Note the subway tile and Carrera marble counters used again. In this space, we chose to paint the ceilings black. The home had 10’ ceilings, so we were able to forego traditional school of thought with respect to dark ceilings and give this space a sexy black lid. A note about black paint: Always use a minimum of an eggshell sheen (I would even recommend a satin finish) for all applications. Black paint simply doesn’t work for interior spaces in flat. This is a wet space, so a minimum of a satin would be required anyways, but once you make the mistake of specifying black in flat, you won’t do it again! You’ll find that any dust that gets on the paint will show, and you can’t clean it off. It will look extremely messy. The shower doors here are from Coastal Shower Doors. They make these fantastic glass shower enclosures with powder coated aluminum mullions that give this space a super cool architectural feature that is reminiscent of old factory windowpanes. This is another affordable yet custom looking feature that is a great selling point for a millennial buyer looking for something different.
The Gallery House at Sunset. We love the use of at least three materials on the façade of a contemporary home. The limestone, polished stucco, and Trespa give the home fantastic visual interest and curb appeal. This home was designed as a “move-up” property, for the older, slightly more established millennial professional.
The Gallery Home’s double height entry. The full height custom entry door sets the tone of the home’s concept from the get-go. You can see right through to the back yard as you walk up. The double height entry makes a statement, with neutral grey Sherwin Williams “Tin Smith” in flat on the walls that serves as a great backdrop to allow the art on the walls to really take center stage here. The Andrew Neyer “Big Mobile Light” is architectural and clean, and the rather thin profile doesn’t impeded views of the art which could potentially have been obstructed from certain angles above and below.
The dining room. The Panton chairs and custom table lend a sculptural element to the dining room, playing up the art gallery concept. We specified American pocket sliding doors that opened up the dining room on both sides, with views of the Las Vegas strip to the front, and the fabulous backyard to the rear. Note the use of consistent flooring from inside to out, unifying the space and visually expanding the livable square footage to the outdoor courtyard.
The Kitchen. We loved adding rich hues of color to highlight the youthful spirit of the space, and reflect the young art collector that we imagined occupying it. The navy subway tile contrasted really well with the marble countertops and the natural maple cabinets. Open shelving kept the space from feeling too impeded by upper cabinets. Make sure that you don’t overwhelm your open shelving with too many different colored dishes or pieces. We chose glass and white ceramic dishes and counter appliances; simple and classic, these items are beautiful to display with the open shelving. We were able to accomplish this look, because behind the stove wall, there is a “home management” room with additional cabinetry, pantry space and laundry, and it can be used as service kitchen. This gave us the extra storage to not over-clutter the main kitchen.
Home Management Room. The service kitchen is a great space for pantry, laundry and additional kitchen storage. If I were having a party, I would use this space to keep my main kitchen clear of dirty dishes and store any hors d’ouvres and snacks. LED strip lighting is relatively inexpensive, and the added layer of accent lighting at the toe kick and under shelves really makes the home feel much more custom. We also utilized square LED can lights, which offered a unique alternative to a typical round down light. These little details are the kinds of things millennials are looking for.
The Living Room also opens up to the outdoors. We used inhabit wall flat tiles to give a textural accent and spec’d a pink wall color which added an invigorating pop. Playful accessories lend the space a youthful vitality that says “We’re here to have a good time.”
Covered game porch off the living room. Millennials are looking for more space to entertain, so again, we made the connection to the outdoors a huge priority here. The RS Barcelona ping pong table has modern lines, mid century splayed legs and pink accents that suit the aesthetic of the home. This porch would be a great space for kids, teens or adults to play ping pong or darts on a nice day. Further down the yard, we incorporated above ground planter boxes for herb gardening, and a custom dog house! Millennials don’t want to keep up a huge yard, and in the desert there is a major shortage of water, so indigenous plant species were used in the landscaping. Astroturf was lain in lieu of a green lawn to save on irrigation. These passive money saving features are important to millennials, who want low maintenance in both yard work and utility costs!
The backyard. There is a pool with a sustainable water feature and LED lighting, a Jacuzzi, sun lounge areas, a sunken-in fireplace lounge, an outdoor kitchen with a bar, dining area, outdoor living and a courtyard with a water feature and living plant wall.
Outdoor Dining and Kitchen. Fermob outdoor furniture.
The sunken-in fireplace lounge. Make sure you always put a mantle above a fireplace where you’re going to hang a TV. We hadn’t installed ours yet, and someone turned on the fireplace only to come back and find it had completely melted!
The master bedroom. We did a custom color-block mural on the headboard wall. You can get creative with a fun DIY project like this, and paint can offer a lot of bang for your buck! We did a design on the computer and then used a projector to lay out the design and then taped off the sections with painters tape. Simple graphic bedding and a neutral Bobby Berk Home “Swirls” rug have visual interest yet allow the mural to be the focal point. A small balcony off the front of the master suite has the best views of the Vegas strip in the house.
The Master Bathroom. Here again, we used a very simple black hex tile from Daltile and contrasted it with a light grout. It gave the space a very sexy, masculine feel. We warmed things up with a beautiful slab of oak with a natural edge for the countertop. The same flooring extends into the shower pan, where we cut it to achieve the necessary drainage slope, but still kept a uniformity to the flooring that makes the space feel that much larger. The fireplace is a great touch that you can enjoy in the soaker tub with a peak through to the master.
Another view of the master suite.
The office space off the master baths offers connection to the master suite, yet gives some privacy from a sleeping spouse.
One of the bedrooms. Check out that “Retro-Geo” wallpaper by Bobby Berk for Tempaper.
The loft. Everyone loves a game of foosball!
We also programmed a “Casita” in the Gallery House. This standalone unit offers an income suite, generational suite, or simply another bedroom with its own entry at the rear. It has an en suite and kitchenette and is Airbnb ready!
The Casita bath. We love the penny rounds in white and yellow in the shower in this space.
Whether you’re a designer, architect or home builder, the “Responsive Home” project was designed to give you an idea of what the millennial demographic values. We hope you enjoyed looking over this project, and learned some ways that you can design and program your spaces to offer features that millennials are looking for. To Recap: Remember to find ways to connect the indoors and outdoors and offer as much outdoor living space as possible.
Use consistent flooring and consider running tile from the inside out to visually connect your spaces. Use cohesive materials and don’t overdesign every wet space with varied product. Find cost effective ways to inject design without using really expensive materials. Add features such as accent lighting or select an atypical feature like a square can light to give your spaces something unique. Add architecture where you can, or vault a ceiling to give a space grander volume. Think about offering some type of standalone unit that can be self-sustaining and grow with the home and homeowner’s changing lives. Happy Designing!
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About the Author
Bobby Berk’s rise to bonafide “IT” status in the home design world has more in common with being a rock star than it does a contemporary designer. Originally hailing from Texas, Bobby had big dreams of the big city and moved to New York in 2003 with only a few dollars to his name and no job in sight. After working his way up in retail at Bed Bath & Beyond and Restoration Hardware to Creative Director at Portico Home + Spa, Berk decided that it was time he started his own brand. Since in 2006, Bobby Berk Home has consistently provided customers a unique approach to modern design aesthetics. Epitomizing hip, minimalist urban luxury, Berk’s designs reflect a stylish and youthful spirit that perfectly fits any cool, relaxed lifestyle. His past season’s were inspired by mid-century modernism, taking ideas from the colors and shapes of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. At the age of only 30, Berk’s brand is beginning to gain national attention, and is on track to quickly become a household name. Berk and his designs have appeared on shows on HGTV, Bravo, NBC, and more. He’s also graced the pages of Elle Decor, New York Times, New York Magazine, Time Out, and many more. Most recently he was named one of Miami’s Most Stylish Men by Miami Magazine.