Top home design trends in 2020

Walk-in master bedroom closets, low-emissivity windows and laundry rooms are popular features

Home design image
Dave Myllymaki

Are you in the market for a newly constructed home? Are you considering a home remodel? Do you shamelessly enjoy home shows on HGTV? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you surely need to pay attention to the top home design trends for 2020.

According to a survey of single-family home builders conducted by our partners at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), walk-in master bedroom closets, low-emissivity windows and laundry rooms are the most likely features incorporated into new homes in 2020. Following close behind are energy-efficient features such as efficient lighting, programmable thermostats and ENERGY STAR appliances. In line with previous trends, open design concepts such as great rooms and nine-plus-foot ceilings on the first floor will continue to be popular.

When NAHB polled designers, many cited that they are including flex spaces to add increased functionality to laundry rooms, hardwood flooring and wood finishes to add warmth and character to the interior and exterior of the home, and many are creating outdoor spaces that seamlessly integrate with indoor living.

Consumers are also expected to continue to desire smaller homes, not only in overall square footage, but also the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. This four-year downward trend has led to the smallest average home size since 2011 at 2,520 square feet. The percentage of homes incorporating four-plus bedrooms, three-plus full bathrooms and three-plus car garages has also dropped to levels not seen since 2012.

While home buyers may have slightly more optimistic expectations about future housing availability, there is no improvement in their outlook for affordability. In the fourth quarter of 2019, 79% of NAHB survey respondents said they can afford fewer than half the homes available in their markets. This is the third consecutive increase in the share of buyers who report that less than 50% of the houses for sale in their markets are affordable to them. This means that only 21% of buyers can afford half or more of the homes for sale in their markets.

Because housing affordability is top of mind, designers are also working to address attainability concerns by developing multifamily and higher-density projects that feel more like single-family homes to meet consumer interest at more affordable price points. The industry is trying to meet the demands of the entry-level home buyer at a time when builders are struggling to meet these demands because of factors such as restrictive zoning regulations and the ever-increasing cost of lot prices. For those that will buy in 2020, we’re expecting a majority will be first-time buyers (estimated at 63%). Millennials are the most likely generation to be making plans to purchase a home within a year (19%), followed by Gen Z (13%) and Gen X (12%).

Since the younger demographics will likely dominate the homebuying market going forward, NAHB also examined preferences among first-time buyers to help builders determine what features are most likely to resonate. When asked which they prefer, the majority of first-time buyers would rather have a smaller home with high-quality products and services than a bigger home with fewer amenities. The top features desired include:

  • Laundry rooms
  • ENERGY STAR windows
  • Hardwood flooring
  • Walk-in pantries
  • Patios
  • Ceiling fans
  • Kitchen double sink

If you’re intrigued and want to see these home trends firsthand, mark your calendars for the New Homes Tour presented by Fairway Independent Mortgage on June 6, 7, 13, 14, the NW Natural Parade of Homes presented by DeWils and HomeStreet Bank on Sept. 4-20 and the Columbia Credit Union Remodeled Homes Tour presented by DeWils and Contract Furnishings Mart on Oct. 17-18. Details are available on our website:

Dave Myllymaki is the 2020 BIA president, and owner of ReNew Creations. He can be reached at

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