The Design Elements and Colors of 2016

Trending for Millennials

Millennial buyers, our largest demographic, want clean lines and contemporary styling—and they are willing to sacrifice space in exchange. Lack of ornamentation is significant and intentional. While bright, energetic colors hold a powerful attractiveness to them, the millennial prefers to keep those to home accents, opting instead for exteriors and interiors in industrial neutrals. Black, white, and nuanced grays are their backbone colors but the use of natural wood tones and colorful accents warms the overall palette and is a way to express the unique color personality of the millennial homeowner.


Trends go beyond colors, of course—they influence elements both inside and outside the home. Matte blacks are currently popular on appliances, cabinetry, lighting fixtures, plumbing fixtures, countertops, furniture, and more. These black surfaces create a sleek look that references technology and implies a future-forward space. Stainless steel appliances now have a worthy competitor with the introduction of the new black stainless finish. Millennials, who grew up with granite and stainless steel, view this new finish as something different and representative of their generation.

Bathtubs continue to decline in popularity among this group. A recent poll of millennials showed the majority do not want a bathtub in their homes, and are including them only for resale value. If they do invest in bathtubs, millennials they want them to look good and reflect their style—which is why freestanding tubs are overshadowing built-ins and will continue to do so.

Exterior trends are also shifting. While we’ve seen metal roofs in recent years on porches and accents, metal is now trending for siding alternatives and standing seam roofs are popular on new homes and replacement roofs; both complement contemporary homes but also work well on transitional and traditional designs. They also appeal to those seeking maintenance free structures.

What Gen X Wants

Generation X is the sandwich generation; they have their feet planted in both the millennial and Boomer camps. The Gen X generation is comfortable with computers even though they didn’t grow up with them, they are highly tech capable but remember a simpler time pre-internet. In their homes, they bridge a similar divide. They appreciate the clean lines and simplicity of contemporary homes but have warm memories of the more traditional homes of their parents. Thus, transitional styling provides a happy medium, and design aspects for Gen X’ers borrow from both styles.


Just as with design styles, the color preferences of Gen X also borrow from both generations; whites, blacks, sand or stone browns and grays are staples. But for Gen X, espresso brown or midnight navy can stand in for a softer shade of black, and cooler grays are replaced with warmer organic gray brown mixes. Wood elements warm the space on floors, feature walls, countertops and cabinets stained in natural hues.

The brass of today appeals to all demographics as a warm, bright, updated version of the finish that inundated us in the 80’s. The softer look of gold-colored metals is a refreshing change to the cooler nickel and chrome finishes that ruled the industry in recent years. Brass and gold finishes are available on light fixtures, faucets and hardware offered in all design styles.

Warm it up for Boomers

Baby Boomers building homes today appreciate quality and craftsmanship. They find security in designs that hold more character and detail than most contemporary homes have to offer. At the same time, this generation is always renewing and redefining itself, and on the whole they are increasingly attracted to homes that are more open and streamlined than they’ve had in the past. Open floorplans, abundant natural light, and authentic materials are preferred. Colors tend to be warmer for this generation; sandy beiges, muted sage greens, creamy yellows and warm off whites.


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