Artisan Home Tour sponsors sound off on the features, finishes, and trends that embody the latest innovations in design and construction.
Bring the Heat
A fireplace instantly creates a cozy ambiance, and with so many options in design—from size and shape to interior details like logs, glass media, and colors—it’s a truly customizable focal point for any space. “We continue to see a healthy mix of traditional and modern fireplaces,” says Elyse Rethlake of Fireside Hearth & Home, the local fireplace experts since 1951. Some homeowners are opting to go bold and playful with the tile patterns surrounding their fireplace, while others are drawn to a more minimal, Scandinavian farmhouse aesthetic, coming through in warm cream and light brown colorways, and white mantels with roughhewn mantel shelves. The addition of exterior fire features like a fire table or fire pit is also trending, as people are spending more time and money on their homes to extend the outdoor season. With a fireplace professional, “it’s easier than you think to add [a fire feature] to virtually any space in the house, indoors or out,” Rethlake adds. Plus, “heat management systems now offer more options than ever to enjoy the fireplace ambiance year-round without necessarily providing heat—great for entertaining in the warmer months.”
With its durability, minimal maintenance, and natural aesthetic, stone has long been the material of choice for homeowners’ countertops in kitchens, baths, laundry rooms, outdoor spaces, and more. In keeping with the white-on-white trend that has dominated interior design as of late, “white quartz with veining and patterns that mimic natural marble continue to be popular selections,” says Joel Dehmer of Granite-Tops, one of the largest fabricators of natural stone countertops in the Midwest since 1995. But if white is not your style, “warmer tones are coming back to the market, and many consumers have been choosing specialty finishes on their dark or light granite surfaces. We see many honed, leathered, suede, and other textured finishes in our showrooms.” No matter your interior design style, Dehmer stresses the importance of doing your research. Ask the fabricator questions like: Is this product suited for my lifestyle? Am I picking a countertop that requires more maintenance due to the mineral makeup of the stone? Is my product heat-, stain-, and scratch-resistant? “Make sure you are picking the right countertop for your application,” he says.
The Indoor-Outdoor Connection
If the pandemic taught us anything the past two years, it’s that being cooped up inside isn’t good for our mental health and we crave a connection to the outdoors—realizations that are now impacting how people design their spaces. “With the continued shift toward spending more time at home, people are seeking ways to be happier and healthier in indoor spaces,” says Christine Marvin of Marvin, the window and door manufacturer that’s been a staple in the building industry since 1912. This has translated to sizable window walls, additional patio doors, and multiple scenic doors. In particular, Marvin clients and design professionals are gravitating toward the Marvin Skycove, a glass structure that projects into the open air, and the Ultimate Swinging Door that allows for more light and views. Says Marvin, “With a constant connection to technology, homeowners are often seeking spaces to help them clear their mind and reconnect without clutter or distraction.”
Less Is More
When it comes to windows and doors, trends are pointing toward minimalism: minimal visible portions of frames, sashes, and door panels to put the focus on large expanses of glass; minimal maintenance that doesn’t sacrifice longevity; and clean, neutral ebony finishes—both inside and out. The Marvin Modern line from the Marvin Design Gallery by Shaw/Stewart Lumber Co. checks all of those boxes: a discreet frame and sash design, a high-density fiberglass material, leading thermal performance, and consistent narrow sightlights in a modular system. Before you commit to the investment of new windows and doors, Bryan May of Shaw/Stewart Lumber Co. advises homeowners to “do your homework. Give yourself ample time as the options are many, and make sure you’ve considered all factors—not the least of which includes the contractor and supplier you choose to put your investment in the hands of. After all, your windows performance is only as good as the quality of the installation.”
An Unforgettable First Impression
When it comes to building a home, so much emphasis is placed on the interior design, but the exterior choices are just as important to make an unforgettable first impression. Enter: AZEK Exteriors, specializing in trim, moulding, siding, and cladding that creates eye-catching curb appeal. Made from rot- and moisture-resistant engineered polymers, AZEK’s portfolio of products allows homeowners to achieve the natural wood aesthetic—without the frequent upkeep and cost to maintain it. Take AZEK’s new shingle siding with PaintPro Technology, for example. Featuring a straight-edge or staggered-edge shingle design that mimics the texture of cedar, PaintPro Technology is used to complete the look, offering a rapid dry time and superior paint adhesion that doesn’t require touch-ups.
Pop of Personality
From unexpected hardware finishes to one-of-a-kind lighting fixtures, it’s those extra touches that give a home personality—something that’s important to homeowners now more than ever as our spaces continue to serve as living quarters, offices, schools and gyms. “The design industry has seen a shift the last two years,” says Paul Hable of Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery. “I believe the home is more of a self-expression. People are realizing they are going to be spending more time in their homes. They are in it for the long haul and aren’t worrying as much about resale. They are making their homes the way they want them.” Rather than playing it safe and making the home completely uniform, this trend is resulting in more bold colors, textures, and mixing of metals. Connected appliances—think ovens that can be preheated from a mobile app, voice-activated faucets and toilets, and smart lighting—are also a must to elevate a home to Artisan level.