One of the fun parts of my job is that I get watch trends come and go. That wallpaper you thought was hideous when you moved in? It’ll be back in style…just give it twenty years!

Here are four home design trends for 2012:

  • The Kitchen
    Stainless will still rule the high-end kitchen, but the built-in look is growing in popularity. Drawers (dishwashers, warming drawers and other goodies) will remain popular at the higher-end. As far as stainless is concerned, pro looks have continued to filter down throughout virtually all price ranges. Practical innovations (quieter & more efficient dishwashers and ovens with lots of options but also easy-to-use interfaces) will continue to dominate over style and newfangled features. And with the economic outlook still gloomy, energy efficiency will continue to be the practical innovation of choice that customers seek out.
  • Indoors
    All of the amazingly decadent outdoor spaces, like kitchens, firepits and sunrooms, are falling out of favor, and people are increasingly spending money only on the practical, everyday-living spaces of their homes. That’s right, all those wish-list spaces most folks began to covet after a quick glance at a magazine cover in the Home Depot checkout lane are quickly losing cache…and value at resale time.
  • Electronic Living
    Remember media rooms? They were all the rage in higher-end homes over the last fifteen years, but truth be told: most folks want to bring technology into their lives, not relegate it to special rooms. Wireless networking, mp3 docking stations and laptops, tablets, wifi-enabled TVs and smartphones have rendered dedicated media rooms obsolete.
  • Unused Space
    Practicality rules the roost today. People want space in their closets and kitchens. All of those huge, unused cavernous spaces in larger homes – like two-story foyers and sitting rooms – are basically just big empty spaces that alternately need lots of heat or AC. The shift in new homes is towards maximizing usable space…and energy usage. Larger walk-in closets upstairs or additional linen closets are definitely preferable to huge 2-story foyers and living rooms since families tend to concentrate in the family- or great room anyway.

It all boils down to practicality: folks want homes that match the way they live today. Drawing rooms and outdoor pizza ovens? No thanks. A larger walk-in closet, energy efficient appliances, and a lower heating bill? Sign me up.

What upgrade to your home are you considering this year?