Flex Space Becoming Critical for Buyers of Chicago Luxury Homes and Condos

In luxury Chicago real estate, the design of a home is of the utmost importance. Sure, buyers can make their own changes in line with their personal aesthetics, but things like a smart floorplan or architectural design are generally major markers of a dream home no matter what.

Because of that, the latest development in home design is a big one: flex space.

What is a flex space, exactly? Well, by nature of it, this room lacks a true definition but it does have a few common traits: It’s off the entry hall, near the main living space, near a bathroom. Above the garage is another common flex space that can be used as a theater, an in-law suite, or kids’ room.

But whether it’s called a bonus room, a multi-purpose area or a flexible living space, the idea is that this is undesignated square footage that can adapt to different uses and brings a forward-thinking element to a home’s floorplan. This space is intended to serve changing purposes over time, taking on considerations for structure, wiring or plumbing up front so the room is ready to transform into its future state when needed.

Flexibility is Key in Real Estate Value

While not every buyer is planning for the future when purchasing real estate, it’s still a consideration when thinking about the resale value of your home, as people discuss the floorplan with an emphasis on the future. Especially in ultra-competitive markets, these flex rooms appeal to buyers who want to trade up for more space, but can’t afford the extra square footage.

If you’re building your first home or unsure of your future needs (like say, the number of children you’ll have), having some flexibility is key. Not to mention, our lifestyles are constantly changing: Folks are living with their parents longer than they used to; or parents move back in with their grown children as they need care in their later years. Buyers definitely feel a need to consider such future living arrangements when building or buying a Chicago luxury home. A flex room helps a property stand out from the rest by offering the promise of never outgrowing the space.

Space helps with sale and resale value because it offers a customization that buyers typically can’t get in an existing home. Designating that room as a flex space signals a freedom to do with it as you wish, versus trying to get a buyer to envision a dining room as their home office. Younger buyers see flex space as a way to customize their home—for example, to forego the formal living room without losing the square footage. Older home owners see these as a space that can adapt as they age—for example, being able to move the master suite to the ground floor.

Whether you’re a homeowner, a prospective seller or a potential buyer, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on what’s “trending” in home design and its impact on real estate value. Especially if you opt to take on a remodel or renovation project, I highly recommend you consider how certain features or characteristics will affect a resale down the line.

For more information on the latest in home design in luxury Chicago real estate, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.

Over-The-Top Kid’s Closets For Chicago Luxury Homes and New Construction

Luxury homes are no stranger to lavish master suites that include expansive dressing and vanity areas. But there’s a new suite in the house getting major design attention—the children’s closet. Homeowners are beginning to make investments into this oft-forgotten storage space to create a big-time closet design that combines a unique aesthetic and necessary function into one.

If you take a look at luxury listings in Chicago, high-end homes always have a handful of features that make a property stand out from the rest. It was likely just a matter of time before luxury homeowners and new construction buyers came up with something new to make their homes—and their little ones—feel special and important.

Boutique-style closets for the kids are, of course, larger, and might also include shoe racks, designer wallpaper, a chandelier or two and elegant organizational tools (think velvet-lined drawers or modular systems that grow as a child does). Besides creating a special space for children of any age, a tailored closet can teach them to organize their belongings at an early age.

A custom kid’s closet via Houzz. Photo by Dominick Tringali Architects.

The Wall St. Journal recently covered this new trend, noting that many projects start from simple vanity, with parents taking the opportunity to be a bit more adventurous in an Internet-sharing-worthy design. But a high-end closet system can also increase a home’s value when it comes time to sell, especially if the space is adaptable enough to grow with the child who uses it.

Akin to a cute child, the custom closet can certainly emit the “oohs” and “aahs” from anyone who sees it. It’s a fresh take on luxury home design that I think many buyers will find clever, both visually and functionally.

The Importance of Chicago Luxury Home Trends

If you’re building or remodeling your property, its important to think of what will play into your home’s resale value. I have extensive experience in working with new construction properties that include the most cutting-edge features, finishes and appliances, and would be happy to discuss with you what changes serve as “value-adds” to your home.
My eye for detail and the nuances that come with floorplan reconfiguration are of a great service to understand how certain elements can tie back to your home’s overall value. To discuss your home project and what trends are at the forefront of luxury real estate, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.

Trends in Chicago Luxury Home Design: High-End Countertops

This is the time of year when many folks are thinking about whether they will sell their home in 2016. That means a lot of thought and attention are going into what makes a luxury home sell quickly in today’s market.

It’s not uncommon that the word “luxury” is used without consideration as to what real luxury is all about. It’s not simply a high price, square footage or a great location. So what makes a home a true “luxury” property?

While the main criteria for a property (like size and location) of course play a role, I believe luxury is defined by a home’s accoutrements. The finishes, the materials, the details and the odds and ends are what bring the luxury lifestyle to a home. These are the things that differentiate a home from the rest. It’s what makes it unique and cutting-edge and causes prospective buyers to walk in and feel that “wow factor” as soon as they walk in the door.

It’s important to pay attention to even the smaller features of a “luxury” home, and the latest au courant addition to a kitchen is show-stopping stonework. While granite has certainly had long been the attention-getter in a high-end kitchen, homeowners are now bringing unusual varieties of stone—such as limestone, schist and labradorite—into their home design. Taking the stone less traveled, if you will, is yet another way sellers can help their property stand out in the market.

The Wall St. Journal recently highlighted this trend of moving away from expected granite finishes. Here are a few examples of kitchen stonework that are anything but run-of-the-mill:

Via Houzz / Contemporary Kitchen by Silver Spring Kitchen & Bath Designers Aidan Design

Quartzite is clean, elegant and ultra-modern in a light, natural shade as is shown here. It’s an ultra-durable material that can produce the same aesthetic as marble but with the hardiness of granite.

Via Houzz / Traditional Kitchen by Buffalo Kitchen & Bath Designers Artisan Kitchens and Baths

Made from semi-precious stones, labradorite brings a stunning dose of deep color and functions as a durable, non-porous surface in the kitchen.

Via Houzz / Farmhouse Kitchen by San Francisco Architects & Building Designers Walker Warner Architects

Limestone is a predictable stone for the facade of a home, but is less expected in the kitchen. It can work smoothed out as a countertop or an elaborate focal point like the wall shown here.

Via Houzz / Contemporary Kitchen by New London Architects & Building Designers Bonin Architects & Associates

Similar to granite in its chemical markup, Schist is medium or coarse-grained and can resemble the distinctive layering of slate.

Updating Your Chicago Home When it’s Time to Sell
For the prospective seller, making updates to the details of your home can make all the difference in determining the value of your property. For a kitchen refresh like this, I can assist you with sourcing the right materials that will set your home apart. I have consulted on a number of home design projects with the goal of resale value in mind, as well as working with clients on new construction projects—each of these involves selecting luxury finishes and materials that make a space feel truly upscale.

For more information on what updates and changes will impact the resale value of your home in 2016, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.

‘Smart’ Toilets a Smart Option for Chicago Luxury Homes and Condos

Contemporary Bathroom by Toronto Interior Designers & Decorators Jill Greaves Design via Houzz

The value of Chicago real estate can be greatly affected by how well a home meets what today’s buyers are looking for. Certain features and amenities that fit in with current trends might make a home more appealing, so it’s important for buyers and sellers alike to stay on top of what’s hot in modern homes right now.

Readers of this blog know that I closely follow home trends and consider how they might affect the value and appeal of luxury real estate in Chicago. We’ve explored ultra high-end ovens, coffee stations and jaw-dropping master baths, all great upgrades to a modern home. There really is no limit to the type or amount of luxury features that you might find.

But just when I thought I had a handle on the products you might consider for an upscale home, along comes: the smart toilet. The Wall St. Journal recently highlighted the toilet of all toilets: the Toto Washlet. With all of its high-tech bells and whistles, the Washlet takes one of the most simple home fixtures and brings it into 2014.

Hailing from Tokyo, these commodes are like something out of a movie. Touchless lids that lift on their own. Seats that heat up. A built-in bidet that…well, you know. Some even sync up with smart phones, so that the toilet remembers your preferences and can even play your favorite song through speakers that are built right into the bowl.

While it might seem kitschy or unnecessary to some, home trends like this can quickly become the norm and expectation in luxury real estate.

Bathrooms Becoming the New ‘It’ Room in Luxury Real Estate

Toilets aren’t the only thing getting an upgrade. Bathrooms in general are quickly becoming a room that homeowners are spending money on to create a luxury refuge in their home. The kitchen was once the focus of remodels and renovations that brought upscale features into a home. But bathrooms—and the master bath in particular—may be taking over.

More and more manufacturers are introducing bath fixtures that take this room to the next level. A few common trends I’ve seen in luxury bathrooms include:

Floating tubs: A freestanding tub adds to a spa-like feel, especially when paired with a great view from a high-rise Chicago condo.

Big showers: When it comes to shower space, bigger is better. Clean and simple styles pair perfectly with generous space to create a daily refuge. Features like a rain shower head, heated floors, and wireless speaker systems are all ways that let the shower take center stage.

Smart technologies: Adding things like wifi or audio/visual systems to the master bath truly make this room a destination for unwinding and relxing at the end of the day.

No touching required: From toilets to faucets, the bathroom is a great place to integrate fixtures that work at the wave of a hand rather than on contact.

In short, luxury amenities in the bathroom add everything from entertainment to efficiency to an extra level of hygiene. A “wow” bath is a great pull for buyers and something that can truly up the resale value of Chicago real estate when its done right.

For more information on current home trends or to talk about increasing the value of your Chicago home or condo, contact me at (312) 498-5080 or email me at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.

New Construction Trend: Goodbye to the Open Kitchen

These are often buzz words in the real estate market, among buyers and sellers alike: open floor plan. Specifically, an open kitchen and living space that create a hub within a home for entertaining and gathering.

But the sought-after “open kitchen” could well be on its way out the door. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal highlighted this as a luxury home trend among new construction. The closed concept kitchen is being seen in newer homes in New York, and I’m convinced the Chicago real estate market will soon adopt this trend as well.

The Future of Chicago New Construction
Although the open kitchen layout became popular because it allowed hosts and guests to mingle in the same space, there are a growing number of people who hire private cooks and caterers to prepare their meals. This turns the open-floor plan on its head, as many hosts don’t want the clutter that comes about or after-dinner dishes on display. The closed kitchen helps create a dinner party that is reminiscent of five-star dining. With everything coming from behind closed doors, all guests see is perfection.

The act of hiring a private chef to create a meal for you and your guests doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. With the influx of “foodies” putting a real emphasis on culinary perfection, many people are using meals to make a major impression (on say, their CEO boss) or mark a special occasion (like anniversaries). This move to having an expert do the work is certainly a reason I could see luxury buyers looking for a more private kitchen space in Chicago homes.

In addition to hosting, creating a more focused mealtime is another reason many are looking for real estate with a closed kitchen. Families can dine together in a room meant only for enjoying a meal, cutting off distractions from neighboring spaces.

But if putting up walls is off-putting, there are other options for creating a private kitchen in a Chicago home that allow for more flexibility. Architects have designed everything from glass panels, curtains, pocket doors and half-walls that help section off the kitchen without closing it off entirely from the rest of the home.

Design Considerations in Chicago Real Estate
Even if you’re not buying or selling right now, it’s important for homeowners to keep design trends like this in mind. What’s popular in today’s homes can affect your resale value down the road, depending on how in line your Chicago home or condo is with the wants and needs of today’s buyer.

To learn more about trends in the Chicago real estate market, contact me at 312-264-5853 or email me at ssalnick@dreamtown.com.