First-time Homeowner?

Here Is Some Advice You Might Want to Hear

Few things are more exciting than making the leap from being a renter to being a first-time homeowner. Getting swept up in all the excitement is a wonderful feeling, but some first-time homeowners lose their heads and make mistakes that can jeopardize everything they’ve worked so hard to earn. Following a series of practical steps early in the home-owning experience can save new owners time, money, and effort later down the road.


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New Home Designs Reflect Needs The Pandemic Created
Bill Lewis Special to The Tennessean

Remember going to the grocery last spring and finding empty shelves where the bathroom tissue was supposed to be? Stores unexpectedly rationed sales because COVID-19 disrupted the supply chain.

The toilet paper shortage of 2020, like everything else about the pandemic, is having an effect on home designs as they change to keep up with the way we live today.

Peek behind the master bathroom door of some new houses in Williamson County and instead of an ordinary toilet you’ll find a combination potty-bidet. It’s an ordinary fixture in many European countries but something new in Tennessee.

“We’re pricing them for all of our houses and installing them in about 50 percent of the homes we build,” said Stacey Wessner, director of design and product development for Legend Homes, a Williamson County-based builder active in the new Hardeman Springs neighborhood in Arrington

The reason, she said, is “the toilet paper shortage, and so many people have traveled” to places where bidets are commonplace.

They aren’t inexpensive. The cost is around $3,500, said Wessner.


Home designs are changing in other ways, some subtle and some easier to spot, said Wessner. She and Lauren Moore, principal designer with Modern Remains interior design studio, looked at the biggest trends.

“People working from home and kids learning at home, that’s a huge trend,” said Moore. The challenge is “how to create space for people.”

She is currently designing interior spaces for one of the homes planned for Sloan Valley Farms, an estate neighborhood of nine homes being launched in Leiper’s Fork with lots ranging from five to 15 acres.

She’s “creating zones for people to be in,” said Moore.

Open floorplans are still popular in most of the new homes Modern Remains works on, but in some new homes the kitchen is separate, creating a quieter and neater living area.

For many homeowners, additional storage is a priority. So is organization. They can be built into the floorplan or achieved with creative use of furniture, for example, by setting up a desk to create a learning center for the kids or an office area.

Many home owners are converting formal dining rooms into offices. One recent renovation project moved the living room to another part of the house to create a school work zone closer to the kitchen.

“The kids needed to be close to where the parents were,” Moore said.

The change can be easily undone if and when life gets back to normal.

“You have the opportunity to bring the furniture back,” she said.

Outdoor spaces have taken on greater significance.

“We’ve had a lot or people putting in outdoor dining areas, a lot putting in private pools. We’re not going to water parks, a lot of people aren’t traveling for vacation,’ said Moore.

Sunrooms, porches and patios are a new center of home life. Garden spaces, even vertical gardens in high-rise condos, are popular.

People want to “try your hand at growing something,” said Moore.

At Legend Homes, a dedicated space for a home office or study has been part of floorplans for several years. Traditionally, they’re found right off the front foyer, across from the dining room. But now the office is moving.

In Hardeman Springs, Legend moved the office to the quieter back of the house with a great view of the yard. The house sold and the company is building that floorplan again.

Another trend is the use of sound dampening materials.

“It used to be one person home working. Now it’s maybe four or five people,” said Wessner.

Today’s families need faultless Wi-Fi, so Legend creates wireless access points to ensure a strong signal throughout the house.

New floorplans are creating uses for attic spaces under the roofline that previously was empty. In one house, the area became a soundproofed room for a pod

Wessner agreed that open floorplans are here to stay, at least for now, but some homeowners want “dedicated spaces” away from the flow of activity.

Prep kitchens are a good example. They keep noise and messes out of the main kitchen, where family and friends often gather.

“All that mess can be stored away, and it avoids noise in the main living area” where someone may be working or studying.

Outdoor living is more important than ever. Homeowners are adding pools, fountains, greens spaces and outdoor kitchens.

“People are thinking of it a lot more,” said Wessner.

The home gym is finally getting its own room.

Before, “maybe people would use the bonus room or a spare bedroom,” said Wessner.

She’s designing dedicated exercise rooms separate but not far from the main living area on the first floor.

“People say if I’m not going to the gym, I want a space,” she said.

casting booth. [source: Tennessean]

These Pandemic-Related Housing and Design Trends Aren’t Going Away
By Ana Durrani

Home trends come and go, but social distancing and staying at home have ushered in a new way of life—and some of those changes have spurred home trends that are likely to stick around well past the COVID-19 era.

“The idea of what is necessary is changing,” says Camille Thomas, a real estate matchmaker and lifestyle expert in Jackson Hole, WY. “The home has become more than a living space.”

This means a lot of people have started to evaluate how they live in their home and what matters most to them when buying. Here are some of the real estate and design trends people have latched on to during the pandemic that will likely have staying power for years to come.


The great escape

Quarantine has caused more than a few people to pack up their lives and head out of crowded cities to the suburbs (or even the country) in search of more room to breathe. One in 5 U.S. adults says they either changed their residence due to the pandemic or know someone who did, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

In fact, as people buy homes in the suburbs, housing inventories in those areas are dwindling faster than in urban areas, according to®’s September Urban vs. Suburban Growth Report.

“People are not wanting to be in a city where it feels too crowded right now,” says Suzi Dailey, a Realtor, who’s with Realty One International in California’s Orange County. “They are leaving cities in favor of homes with more space, a backyard, or some type of view.”

Thomas says in the mountain town of Jackson Hole she is seeing buyers come in from Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, Houston, and Chicago.

“Some are purchasing sight-unseen,” she adds.

Also, with more companies allowing their workforce to work from home, many people are no longer tied to a specific city for employment. Most housing experts agree that this trend of increasing preferences for suburban homes will continue.

The Zoom room

Regular videoconferencing from home—whether you’re an employee or a student—is a new reality, and it’s become increasingly common to see agents and sellers including Zoom rooms in listings as part of a home’s features. But what is a Zoom room, anyway?

Essentially it’s a dedicated room or corner of your home that features an aesthetically pleasing background for your videoconference calls. Zoom rooms are free of household clutter and typically removed from the high-traffic parts of the house. And experts predict the dedicated video room trend is likely to persist for buyers beyond COVID-19.

“Buyers are looking for extra space to create workspaces for students and working parents,” says Thomas. “Three bedrooms is no longer enough. Now it must be three bedrooms and an additional workspace, at least.”

Clean and cozy design

Photo by ME Design Group

Interior design trends are always changing. But throughout the pandemic we’ve seen homeowners doing everything they can to create a cozy, simple, clean, and comfortable vibe inside their homes.

“It’s a focus on an open floor plan, lighter wall colors, and no clutter,” says Dailey. Elements that capture this aesthetic are comfortable sofas, throw blankets, candles, herb gardens in the kitchen, and houseplants that make a person feel at home.

“Especially with COVID-19, you do not want a home that feels dirty. That’s why clean, simplistic decor and decluttering have become very popular,” says Dailey.

And that feeling of streamlined coziness is extending to the outdoor areas of the home, too.

“Sales of space heaters, such as the tall standing heaters for porches, patios, and outdoor spaces, are already going through the roof,” says Dailey.

The backyard premium

It’s little surprise that homebound owners—or would-be owners—are focusing more on backyard spaces. Some buyers are even willing to settle on a smaller house or a house in a less desirable area in order to have a large backyard where they can spend more time in the open air.

“For some, that means moving farther outside of town for the same-size house with more land. Others are moving into small townhouses so they can purchase a small farm outside of the city,” says Mary Patton of Mary Patton Design.

[source: realtor]

The Future of Home Design – During and After COVID-19
By Keith Liston

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way we live in a matter of months. With less time out in the world, we have realized the ways that our homes now need to change, too. Tiny apartments clustered around communal laundry mats and all-inclusive workout rooms must reassess safety in a new age of social distancing. Event spaces once created for public gatherings and parties must reinvent. Open-plan suburban homes with little storage and vast raised ceilings need new ways to separate work, school, and play. As increased isolation has become the new norm, so have frustrations with the one space we rely on most to be safe, comfortable, functional, and efficient: home.


The coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly changed the face of how we design and build the spaces we live in. Through quarantine, we have started to pay much more attention to our physical realm. People are looking for ways to refresh or reinvent their living spaces, and more of us are beginning to appreciate ways in which we can conserve energy through introspective design and the addition of technology. In 2020, specifically, many trends are surfacing and changing the way we look at design. Among them are:

New uses for old spaces: As people seek more ways to promote productivity in their homes, organization and layout will be a big focus. With more working and learning being done from home, there is a major emphasis on creating spaces that are first and foremost functional – but also aesthetically pleasing.

It is more important now than ever to find ways to use those once-underutilized spaces and transform them. Remodeling previously wasted space into an office or meeting room will create a new area where productivity can thrive. A cluttered storage area can be revamped and reorganized into a serene reading room for those moments when someone in the household needs a few minutes alone.

Additions: In many cases, families are staying together longer and in larger groups. College students are remaining at home and participating in remote classes. Parents are choosing to live with their children versus assisted living communities. An addition or extension can help create space for everyone during and after COVID. Building out on to your property, especially if it is larger, is a great option for creating additional space that can meet the needs of your entire family. This process typically involves the initial layout of a new foundation and the build out of new space. Take a moment to decide what type of addition is right for the client, whether it’s a new master suite, an extra bathroom, or a large room for family time. Ensuring that the home remains aesthetically pleasing while also creating a smooth traffic flow is important to the success of the addition; making sure everything works beautifully between new and old will be the key to creating an addition that will not only give a family the extra space they need as they’re cooped up, but will continue to enhance the functionality of the home even after the pandemic has passed.

Multipurpose Places: The open floorplan has been a trend that has withstood the test of time, whether it’s in the original build of a home or done through a remodel. However, the open floorplan is not always functional when it comes to privacy – and without privacy for work or school, productivity suffers. As families continue to work and attend school from the home, the open floorplan must be reimagined.

Converting purposefully open spaces, like kitchens or living areas into offices or classrooms extra privacy for better focus. The modern home, both during and post-pandemic, must be multifunctional. By understanding how to redefine these large, open spaces, we will be better prepared to live, learn, work, and play in a single location: our homes.

Communal Kitchen Spaces: No longer just the space where mom cooks dinner, the kitchen of the future needs to be a warm and functional gathering space, too. Quarantine has necessitated a movement towards home-cooking that hasn’t been seen in decades. Where just a year ago mom, dad, and kids might have gone their separate ways to enjoy meals out, families are now coming together, cooking together, and dining together – all at home.

Creating a cohesive, multifunctional kitchen is necessary to turn these spaces into communal gathering areas where families can fill up on good company and comfort in addition to good food. Using the same flooring in the kitchen as the surrounding living areas can help to create a seamless transition from room to room that connects the spaces together, while adding in panel-ready appliances and updated cabinetry will maintain flow while creating a space that is both functional and inviting. A large island can serve as a space for cooking, working, and gathering. The key is to create a space that will support multiple needs of multiple family members.

Final Thoughts
As we continue to adapt to the changes the pandemic has brought to our lives, we must embrace and redefine our homes as spaces of both learning and living, productivity and play, form and function. The trends we are seeing today will likely remain for years to come as things like remote work and virtual learning continue even after the pandemic. As we usher in a new era in which homes need to be both luxurious, relaxing retreats and productive, functional workspaces, remodeling within this new normal is an opportunity for us to build the perfect balance – in our homes and in our lives.

[source: remodeling]

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