MAR 24, 2017

Upgrades and options personalize a new home

Daily Herald

By Sherry Giewald
Daily Herald Correspondent

A model home is often dressed to the nines showing thousands of dollars of options and upgrades to look its best.

Although buyers may flip over the rustic hardwood floors, gourmet kitchen or plush carpeting in the master bedroom, they often have their own wish lists of upgrades they want.

Of course, they may add a few more after seeing what's on display in the model. And that's the idea.

"Most people do upgrade in their new homes," said Anna Harmon, director of marketing for Shodeen Homes. One of the advantages of buying a new-construction home is that buyers have the opportunity to select features and finishes to customize their home and make it their own.

At William Ryan Homes, a lot of people choose upgrades based on current trends, said Jennifer Mencias, director of sales.

Kitchens and baths top the list of rooms that buyers choose to upgrade, but, of course, with new products and materials popping up each year, there is always something new to wow buyers.

What upgrades are buyers splurging on for their new homes?

Barn/sliding doors and shiplap walls

At William Ryan Homes, one of the great new features is barn doors, which is another cool trend, Mencias said.

Barn doors also make an appearance in city homes providing ultra-stylish and space-saving solutions.

Lexington Homes showcases optional barn doors at its Lexington Square 4 community in Chicago's Bridgeport neighborhood.

"Lexington takes pride in making sure our homes include the latest and greatest features," said Jeff Benach, principal of Lexington Homes.

At Heritage Harbor Ottawa Resort, a marina resort community in Ottawa that draws inspiration from East Coast beach cottages for its home designs both inside and out, buyers often choose barn or pocket doors to enhance the cottage feel of their vacation home, said Tammy Barry, director of sales and marketing for the community.

Susan Tauke, president of New American Homes, agrees. "Everyone wants barn doors here at Newport Cove," she said. Newport Cove is a planned unit development that offers year-round resort-style living along Bluff Lake in Antioch. "We're also getting a lot of people asking for slider doors."

Although barn doors are often sliding doors, contemporary designs may feature a modern style door on a sliding track.

And complementing the cottage look at Newport Cove, shiplap walls -- a rough-sawn wood that creates a rustic, beachy look -- are popular, for example, as an accent wall behind the bed, Tauke said. "On HGTV, every other house shows shiplap."


Kitchens often receive royal treatment when it comes to upgrades because it's where people spend a lot of their time with family and friends, said Brian Murphy, area vice president for K. Hovnanian Homes.

Move over granite; quartz is stepping into the spotlight for countertops. "Quartz is more in demand now than granite," Murphy said.

Also at Newport Cove, there's more interest in quartz and butcher block countertops than there was a few years ago, Tauke said. "People like to have butcher block on the island and quartz on the perimeter."

At Shodeen Homes, a lot of people upgrade to 42-inch upper cabinets and choose a gourmet kitchen with double oven and stainless steel appliances in homes where that isn't a standard, Harmon said.

And at Heritage Harbor, custom open shelving is big right now, Barry said.


Bathrooms rank up there with kitchens as a heavily upgraded room in new homes. At Shodeen Homes, a lot of people want to upgrade tub fixtures. "They bring in photos and ideas they see online, and we work with them to accommodate their desires," Harmon said.

"People are going for the more modern tubs, and we're seeing more linear styles that take up less square footage. In some of our floor plans, we show a free-standing tub in the master suite, and it's an exciting trend that a lot of people want."

At Newport Cove, the free-standing bathtub is also a hit, and customers also like the large walk-in shower with no doors, Tauke said.

Customers at M/I Homes are also moving away from the tub/shower combination and opting for a larger shower, said Cheryl Bonk, vice president of sales and marketing. "That's been a big wave that we're seeing."


Although carpeting has become more environmentally friendly with softer textures, wood flooring reigns on the main level of new homes.

With the great room concept where the kitchen flows into the family room and dining area for one expansive living space, wood floors are often the choice of homebuyers to give the home a consistent and current look.

At Toll Brothers, the popular floor color is a weathered look, which is a mix of taupe and gray with brown undertones, said Trisha Houser, sales manager. "That's what people are asking for all day long."

At Shodeen, it's popular to upgrade standard flooring to hardwood flooring or slate, and vinyl wood planking has become really popular for the basement, Harmon said.

K. Hovnanian Homes offers site-finished hardwood floors, Murphy said. And for William Ryan Homes, hardwood floors are also big.

Newport Cove sees people selecting the engineered wood flooring and upgraded laminate flooring in place of hardwood. Porcelain tile that looks like wood is also very popular now, Tauke said.


Let's not forget about the outdoors. William Ryan Homes has put in a fire pit for a customer, and Shodeen Homes has done a custom deck and arbor feature that gives the backyard a nice look.

Shodeen also offers a screened-in porch option, and they're big at Heritage Harbor where people want to sit and enjoy the nice views and spend more time outdoors without worrying about bugs, Barry said.

For home exteriors, William Ryan Homes offers six different exterior elevations including some of the new styles, such as farmhouse- and cottage-style homes, and also it has a prairie craftsman that's always very popular, Mencias said.

"The cottage look is really popular and is a big attraction to our Newport Cove community," Tauke said.

Included as standard

Some builders include many upgrades as standard items, especially in higher-end homes where buyers expect luxury finishes, upgraded kitchens and flooring.

Source: http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20170324/entlife/170329792/

"The home is, simply put, beautiful- and deceivingly roomy."

- Michael Gallaher