As residents of communities inside the loop, we set ourselves apart from our North Dallas neighbors, both in terms of the things we value in our homes – history, character and craftsmanship – and the things we’re willing to put up with, including more maintenance and less storage space.

But in specific terms of home design and décor, how else do we set ourselves apart? Does loving older homes – with all their charming nooks and crannies and squeaky wheels – translate into a different sense of style than, say, someone who lives in Frisco or Allen?

To answer these questions, we asked a few professionals who do business around here what home trends people in our neighborhoods embrace.

Demographic Division / Not surprisingly, many neighborhood residents have similar tastes. But, say those in the business, the shifting demographics of our communities also translate into what many people see as two types of residents who are adopting completely different styles in their homes.

“These camps seem to loosely correlate to different age groups, plus length of time in this neighborhood,” says Adrienne Snow of J2 And Crew, who also owns a consulting company called Spacemasters.

So in short, we’re talking younger residents versus our neighborhood’s more established homeowners. But what’s the difference?

Of younger residents, Snow says: “Couples coming in new to these areas without children or just beginning their families seem most interested in recapturing the retro look from the 1940s and ‘50s. Even when adding rooms or undertaking whole house remodeling, they often want to retain the period look of the original décor, especially in terms of original tile in kitchens and baths.

“Though they want the conveniences of today in the way their homes function, they seem to value the look and feel of a not-too-distant yesterday. They typically choose appliances, plumbing and electrical fixtures reminiscent of the middle 1900s.”

Others contacted for this story confirmed that the retro look is indeed making a comeback, especially in floor coverings:

• Says Nora Czigan of White Rock Floors: “We are seeing a call back to the old linoleum-style VCT tile. This is an almost indestructible material that has the vintage look of the ‘40s and ‘50s and was widely used in that era. It comes in wonderful colors and is a great look for the money.”
• And Bob Fike of the Dallas Carpet Outlet adds: “The most popular carpet style is a Frieze. Frieze is part of the Berber family, but it doesn’t look like a Berber. It looks like the old shag carpeting that was so popular in the ‘70s and ‘80s.”

So, while younger couples adopt the décor of yesteryear, older couples “want the benefits of today’s high-tech – and often high-end – elements,” Snow says, adding that they are tired of “maintaining old materials and worn finishes.”

“They’re more focused on modernizing,” she says. “They like the newer artistic Sheetrock textures with faux paint finishes and Wolf ranges and Sub-Zero refrigerators. They are unequivocally moving their homes into the 21st century as much as their financial resources will allow.”

The two groups, however, do crave some things in common, Snow says.

“Luxury bathrooms, large kitchens and home offices are high priorities.”

Space Invaders / Speaking of bathrooms and kitchens, how many of us lament the size of ours or have already done something about it? A lot, say the professionals. Because, let’s face it: Older homes have less space. Closets, laundry rooms and just about everything is smaller than what you’d find in a house in Plano.

But we take on those projects with aplomb and ingenuity, making sure to keep any construction in line with our home’s historic character, says the professionals.

“The trend that I have been seeing come through my office this past year is the Tudor attic expansion in East Dallas,” says designer Melinda Poss. “Most of my clients have been in their houses for years, love their house, love their neighborhood and don’t want to move, but need more space. With their steeply pitched roofs, they know that they have a lot of unused space up there. They come to me for a sensitive and appropriate enlargement of their existing home.”

And we also re-characterize the space in our homes, says Loraine Smith of Personal Style Design.

“Formal dining rooms are changed into additional living areas. Living rooms are changed into game or sports rooms. Dens and bedrooms into office space, reading rooms or workout rooms,” she says.

Residents, she adds, often are willing to break the rules and invent innovative solutions for new storage spaces.

The Customizers / So as residents of older homes, we tend to think outside the box. And because of this, we also seem willing to accept that change doesn’t happen overnight, says Kelly Brewer, owner of Accessory Market in Lake Highlands.

“I used to do model homes all over, in Frisco, Plano,” she says. “Outside the loop, people are more like: I want it new, and I want it done now. But people inside the loop are really more selective in what they pick. They take one room at a time and do it in more detail.”

Take the kitchen, for example. Michael Baird, of Cabinetmasters, says many of his customers are going so far as to customize their cabinets to accommodate the homeowners’ heights.

“We see customers beginning to demand more from us than ‘standard’ catalog offerings. They increasingly tap our design expertise to accommodate their particular needs,” he says.

“Whether they are tall or short, customers want us to set our products at heights comfortable for their use, not necessarily what is regarded as industry standard. This is a trend that many people are aware of as vanity cabinets.”

And really, vanity is what customizing a home is about. We don’t mean conceit as much as making our homes a reflection of who we are. Though it sounds cliché, it’s the only way to go about it, Snow says.

“A home aligned with our true values and priorities and in harmony with our meaningful relationships challenges, expands and supports us mentally, emotionally and spiritually,” she says. “Home – when created in one’s own image and however grand or humble – is truly where the heart is.”

So What’s Next? / OK, that’s all very warm and fuzzy, but what we really wanted to know from the professionals was: What are the coming trends?

“My guess is that there will be a move toward clearer, brighter color schemes with increasingly simplified décor,” Snow says. “I think people want to create more light and brightness in their lives as well as eliminating unnecessary clutter.”

As for other trends, those in flooring options were most often mentioned.

Czigan says advanced technology in carpet fibers is resulting in softer, more resilient and luxurious options, particularly in Berbers, polyester and nylon floor coverings.

“The fibers that they are using to make the carpets are improving drastically. It is now possible to get a great looking and wearing carpet for less money,” she says.

As for hardwood flooring options, she adds: “Many architects are now calling for more of the cork and bamboo flooring in their designs, as these are considered renewable resources and no trees are cut for either of these products. Both bamboo and cork have a wide range of colors and patterns that are fabulous.”

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