A couple of weeks ago, I took a rode trip to the Vesta Parade of Homes in Memphis, TN. As usual, there were several new construction houses in the same neighborhood that were open for tours. There were several changes this year because of COVID. Each visitor was greeted at the front door of each of the houses by a friendly hostess who made sure we were all wearing masks and who encouraged us to use the hand sanitizer they supplied as we entered the house.
I think this was my third year going to the Vesta parade of homes. And it never disappoints. The houses were transitional in style, meaning there was a mix of traditional and contemporary decor. Patterns and colors of furniture, rugs and art leaned just a little more traditional than contemporary, probably because of the southern sensibility of the homes and designers. But materials and fixtures had mostly clean lines and sleek finishes and were similar to what I’ve seen used throughout the country and on design websites and in magazines. Here is the list of design features seen at the Vesta Parade of Homes in Memphis.
1. Multifunctional Movie Rooms
What I saw in this group of houses and what I’ve been noticing over the last several years is that there are no more (or very rare) dedicated movie/theater rooms with theater type seats. Instead of an old school theater room, the movie or TV rooms had comfortable, loungey sofas and chairs. That way the TV room can double as a teen lounge or second living area. One TV room I visited had a couple of bunk beds in a corner, so it could also serve as a guest room too. Another had a shuffle board table so it doubled as a game room. You could also put some exercise equipment in the corner to make a combination TV and exercise room.
2. White Ceiling Fans
I told you a few years ago that I’ve been seeing more ceiling fans, especially in bedrooms, even in higher end homes designed by professional designers. What was interesting in this parade of homes that I haven’t seen before is that the majority of the ceiling fans were white. And because they were white, they blended in with the white ceiling and became less noticeable. It’s a great idea if you want a ceiling fan as more of a functional element, and not necessarily as a decorative element.
3. Pared Down Outdoor Kitchens
Outdoor living is still very much a part of new homes all over the country. All of the homes
I visited had outdoor living areas and/or dining tables. But instead of the huge outdoor kitchens that we saw in the early 2000s, the outdoor kitchens were comprised of a grill and about 4-6 feet of countertop space. Sometimes there was a small under-counter fridge or some other small appliance or bar sink. But none were those big, elaborate outdoor kitchens with every appliance that you would find indoors. Instead of those oversized outdoor cooking areas, more space was allotted to outdoor furniture so family and friends can spend time together outside.
4. Marble, Quartz and Porcelain Slab Countertops
Granite has just about disappeared from the houses I’ve been visiting. Occasionally, I’ll see a quartzite countertop, but most kitchens and bathrooms today have either marble or maintenance-free quartz or porcelain slabs on the countertops.
5. Bold Tile
I really didn’t see any traditional white, 3x6 inch subway tile in kitchens or baths. People are now using tile with more interesting shapes, sizes and patterns. Tile colors are mostly neutral, with occasional muted blues, greens and terracotta hues. But what really caught my eye was all the pattern I saw on tile walls and floors in kitchens, bathrooms, mudrooms and laundry rooms. Patterns were geometric, or Spanish- or Morrocan-inspired, or that kind of abstract floral pattern that you often see with cement tiles. And even if there were rectangular subway-like tiles, they were typically long and narrow or somewhat dimensional with raised, beveled edges. One of the most popular tile styles this year was that wavey, glossy square ceramic tile with slightly irregular edges and a slight variation in color that make them look handmade (see below). I’ve seen those irregular square tiles in bathrooms and kitchens in many parts of the US.
6. Freestanding tubs
Freestanding tubs in master baths continue to be very popular. I saw many of them in this home show and I don’t think that freestanding tubs are going away anytime soon, if you use a bathtub. But Interestingly, a recent survey conducted by Houzz.com says that many homeowners are opting out of bathtubs and choosing a very large shower instead. You should do what is best for your habits and the size of your bathroom.
7. Oversized Master Closets and Oversized Laundry Rooms
If you don’t have a lot of clothes, you probably don’t need an oversized closet, but they were definitely popular in the Vesta home show and I’ve noticed that closets are getting larger and larger all over the country. Many of the master closets had window seats or some other seating in them for lounging. I’ve also seen closets with desks in them so they can double as an office space. Some master closets had washers and dryers in them. For homes with separate laundry rooms, the laundry space was large, like the size of a small bedroom, to accommodate a mudroom space, a pet grooming area, crafts and/or a second refrigerator or freezer.
8. Less Shiplap
Shiplap was all the rage a few years ago and I still saw it on a couple of ceilings and walls, but it’s much less prominent this year. The farmhouse style, in general, is getting less popular overall. But remember, you don’t have to have a modern farmhouse to add texture or paneling to walls.
9. Rectangular Pools
I didn't see one kidney-shaped swimming pool. Even these more traditional and transitional houses had simple, clean-lined rectangular pools. I saw not one lagoon type pools with faux boulders and waterfalls.
There were no houses where most of the rooms were wallpapered, but a few rooms of some houses, like powder rooms, bedrooms and dining rooms, had one, or all walls papered in either subtle neutrals tones, or bold colorful wallpaper. I think anything goes if you like wallpaper. I even saw some wallpaper on the ceiling.
11. Mixed Painted and Wood Cabinets
Medium-toned wood cabinets or kitchen islands were often paired with white, black, green or blue painted cabinetry. A rare kitchen had all wood cabinets. Open shelves are still around, but there were fewer houses with open shelves and fewer open shelves within a space.
12. Brass and Gold Fixtures
Warm, matte, golden metals like brass are as popular as ever in lighting and cabinetry hardware. I think that trend that started many years ago has now crossed over to a classic feature. Granted, there weren’t many brass faucets, but brass seems to be a staple in hardware, lighting and accessories.
13. Light Neutral or Dark Moody Paint Colors
Whites, warm greiges (gray beiges) and light taupes were the predominant paint colors. The cold blue-grays from a few years ago seem to have disappeared. There are light to medium grays on walls and cabinetry, but they have a warm undertone of beige or brown. Most walls were neutral. Even the few light blue and blush pink walls that I saw were so light and subtle that they read more like neutrals than an actual colors. In contrast to those muted, neutral paint colors were several houses with rooms that were painted with deep, dark, moody colors like black, chocolate brown, charcoal gray and deep forest green. Those dark walls were especially popular in formal dining and living rooms, bedrooms, powder rooms, offices and movie rooms.
So those were some of the most popular features that I saw in the Vesta parade of homes. I hope this helps you narrow some of your choices down. You’ll ultimately want to choose things for your house that you love, but it’s always nice to know what popular in the new construction market.
Please remember that the purpose of this podcast is simply to educate and inform. It is not a substitute for professional advice. The information that you hear is based the only on the opinions, research and experiences of my guests and myself. That information might be incomplete and it’s subject to change, so it may not apply to your project. In addition, building codes and requirements vary from region to region, so always consult a professional about specific recommendations for your home.