Whether you are looking to build your dream home, or just dreaming of building, you will want to keep up with the current trends. We asked Michael Gardner, principal at Studio g Architecture in Henderson, to fill us in on the current state of residential architecture in Nevada
Q. What do you see as the current design trends in residential architecture in Nevada?
A. We see all of the current buzzwords, such as open floor plans and indoor/outdoor living. We are lucky that Nevada is one of the few places where indoor/outdoor really works, since we don’t have a lot of insects and our climate allows for it.
Nevertheless, the trend is toward a little less of an open floor plan. We still want to maintain visual connections between rooms, without having everything directly open. We have gone from one extreme to another. For example, the kitchen used to be all closed off. Then we went to almost a warehouse feeling, with one large space, and now we are dialing it back a little, and returning to more of a home feeling.
Where I am in Las Vegas, everything went super-modern for a while. Now it is a little bit softer – it is still modern, just not as boxy.
Q. Do you see a greater emphasis on environmental factors in home design?
A. We call it the “guilty hippie syndrome.” A lot of our clients grew up in the 60s and 70s, when solar and green energy first hit the market. Now they have the resources to do custom homes, and they want to give back.
And solar is definitely back in Nevada. A new law was just enacted, bringing back the rooftop solar industry after it was virtually shut down by actions of the Public Utility Commission in 2015. Solar will be a trend going forward, since it will make economic sense again, and Tesla’s new solar roof will definitely have an impact on residential architecture.
Q. What other environmental concerns do you see?
Strict water conservation requirements are a huge piece of any residential design puzzle here in southern Nevada. But this is not just a concern at a micro or project level – this is citywide. Of course, landscaping has to take water restrictions into account. We design with plants appropriate for a desert environment. Elevation differences, sometimes ranging from 500 to 800 feet, can also dictate the type of landscaping plan. Xeriscape, or drought tolerant, is the norm here in Las Vegas.
Environmental sustainability is an important component in architecture today. There is more installation of energy-efficient heating and cooling systems and anything else that has to do with sustainability, such as indoor air quality, as well as the overall site design. For example, the design of a second story is important to provide shading to the first floor and outside spaces, and in blocking wind. Similarly, homes designed with outdoor shades can reduce the cooling requirement for the indoor spaces.
Q. Do the demographics of your Nevada clientele impact architecture trends?
A. Most of the clientele who are designing new homes are baby boomers. They are not entry-level homebuyers. Some are recent retirees who are moving to the Las Vegas area for the warm climate, and some are moving here for the favorable tax climate.
Building for retirees does affect overall design. Most homes will have a large first floor footprint, including a master bedroom and the main living and eating areas. The second floor will have space for grandkids or guests. The goal of the outside space is to be usable year-round. Patio heaters will be installed to warm in the winter months, and misters and shades will be used to cool or close off in summer.
Another trend, especially in baby boomer homes, is that the size of the house is shrinking. Even in luxury, custom homes, we are not seeing those huge 10,000 to 15,000 sq. ft. homes being built anymore. Square footage is being cut by more than half because a lot of people have already done that, have already lived in a large house, and now they realize they don’t need as much space anymore. They would rather have higher quality fixtures and finishes than just a big house.
Q. What about the impact of millennials on architecture trends?
A. Millennials are driving the increase in, and popularity of, home technology. From controlling your thermostats, to turning lights on and off, etc., the home automation market is a big trend, and we are seeing that everywhere, in both house and apartment design.
The price point of home automation systems has become lower – a lot of different companies are entering the market with different types of products. You can almost do it yourself with some of the products, like Apple, so the technology has become a lot more cost-effective.
Clients want this now. Millennials are looking to buy now, and these are the types of features they consider critical.
Q. What is the impact of the current tight housing market?
A. The resale market is very tight in the Las Vegas area, and especially so in good neighborhoods with good schools. Some people don’t want to move from their older, established neighborhoods, with homes built in the 70s. Homeowners are gutting their older houses and putting in more efficient systems with better technology. The design trends are the same as with new homes, with rooms being opened up, and indoor/outdoor connections added, often using large sliding or pocket doors, for example.
There is also a very large transient population here, with a lot of turnover, and people who are not ready to commit to buying. Consequently, a lot of people are renting. There has been a huge boom in new apartment buildings, and rental prices are also up.
Residential architecture has gone from where everything built was a single-family home, to now building more high-density housing. The house and the lot size footprints are much smaller now, and we are looking at more multifamily units, including condos, townhomes, and attached row houses.
These high-density housing projects have similar principles in design. There is more limited private outdoor space, but more of a communal environment, with increased community spaces, such as clubhouses.
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of ZB, N.A.
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