Desirable Design Ideas

Five features catch consumers' attention.

Consumers are more selective than ever about their homes, and they have a long list of what they want their newly built or remodeled homes to include.

Yes, large open spaces, lofts and skylights are still popular with homeowners, but other items have tickled the fancy of people striving to make an individual statement with extra-special amenities. Here are five "I want that" features:

1. Innovative architectural systems. Wall paneling and decorative shapes in resins as room dividers are the new focal points of the home. Case in point: a product from 3form, Salt Lake City. Like glass, the Varia System in the Textura line can range from ice-like and crystal to warm and curvaceous. But unlike glass, the properties of the Ecoresin product allow tremendous flexibility, durability and lightness, all while using a 40 percent post-industrial recaptured material. Select finishes give projects the lenslike, optical features of carved, cut and etched surfaces. It creates "walls" that are translucent yet provide privacy.

2. High-end appliances and other accoutrements for the kitchen and bath. Jesse Johns is president of Renovations Redefined in Dallas, which specializes in kitchen and bath renovations. Johns says that his clients definitely want high-end countertops, including granite, quartz and poured concrete, as well as top-of-the-line appliances. While that may mean spending as much as $15,000 to $20,000, rather than the $5,000-and-under price tag normally budgeted for the stove, refrigerator, microwave and dishwasher, his clients don't seem to mind.

"Tumbled marble and glass backsplashes are also popular," he adds. "Lots of glass in the bathroom and big showers with multifunction spray heads as opposed to spa tubs are must-haves. Customers want tile on everything — from floors to walls to benches inside the shower."

3. Whole-house water filtration systems. These are particularly popular with clients if they are concerned about the long-term aesthetics of products in the kitchen and bathroom, Johns continues. "Chemicals, lead, chlorine and hard water particles can build up in new fixtures, such as the lavatory, and make them unsightly no matter how clean," Johns adds.

4. Natural insulation. Another out-of-the-ordinary option that might appeal to environmentally conscious homeowners is natural cotton fiber insulation, according to Kate Macaulay, who started Green Living in Dallas, a retail store with cutting edge, eco-friendly products. "Ultra Touch natural cotton fiber insulation for the home from Bonded Logic is quite popular," she says. "It's made from recycled cotton denim, so it's safe, and there's no danger of fiberglass particles or other contaminants during installation."

5. Three-car garages. According to the National Association of Homebuilders, more and more people want this amenity, and it certainly can be part of a whole-house remodel. While the space may be used for storage rather than for vehicles alone, it ranks high on the must-have list.

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