Have you gotten into an older model car lately and found yourself trying to connect your smartphone via Bluetooth because it’s second nature? Did you automatically reach for the non-existent touch screen to pull up the GPS? Cars aren’t the only things that have evolved and gotten significantly smarter over the last 5 to 10 years.

New homes are also becoming smarter, more convenient, more comfortable and ultimately more ergonomic with modern technologies that allow you to control everything from your lighting and sprinkler systems to even your blinds with your smart phone. Design is also evolving to better accommodate the way we live.

We talked with Alan Looney, owner at Castle Homes, regarding some of the latest home trends that are being incorporated into homes, and some of the latest and greatest features are, frankly, futuristic. Take a look!

Home Trend: Ergonomics

Ergonomics is a word that is more often associated with a workstation, or even a car. But today’s homes are becoming more ergonomic as well.

“Design is always evolving in homes just like it does in cars,” Alan says. “To make our lives a little more organized and convenient, BMW and Mercedes started putting all the controls you need on the steering column because it was more ergonomic.” He says the same is happening with homes. People want more glass, more windows and ultimately more daylight. So, Castle Homes rethinks how that affects everything else in the home.

“We think a lot about how to utilize windows,” Alan says. “We think about things like how we build a stairwell. We want them to have big windows over them to bring in a lot of light. We are all about making the home more comfortable for our client to live in.”

Thoughtfully planned spaces are the foundation of an ergonomic home.

Home Trend: Dirty Kitchens

Alan says as recently as five years ago, his company started getting requests for things like a dirty kitchen. “One trend we have seen is people asking for a secondary, smaller kitchen that serves as the spot people take their dirty dishes so they don’t clutter up the main kitchen when you are entertaining,” he says. “It has evolved as a function of how people live today. They want to entertain, but they don’t want their kitchen, where people tend to congregate, to be a mess.”

Alan says Castle Homes has always focused on designing the right house for the family who is going to live in it. So as lifestyles evolve and change, these upscale homes can change right along with you.

Home Trend: Functional Space

As Alan works with a client during the design phase of a home, he makes sure that the home is designed and built in a way that is timeless, but also functions for the family living in it. Spaces like mud rooms, laundry rooms and pantries are being designed to transcend their original uses, because that’s how families today use them.

I mean, let’s face it, we don’t use the laundry room for just laundry anymore. Nowadays, that room can double as a craft space, home office, sewing station or dog washing area. So, with that in mind, Alan’s team walks through those potential uses for the room before it is designed.

“There’s always more going on in the laundry room,” he says. “We are adding desks in there, craft areas, drop zones and computer areas. As a result, laundry rooms are getting bigger and we are tucking the washer and dryer behind doors with added countertop space. We are also designing them with lots of windows. They aren’t tucked back in a corner with no light anymore.”

Same goes for the kitchen pantry, which does way more than store food. Alan says people are asking for wine storage areas, custom shelves and built-in cabinets in the pantry.

This laundry room multi-tasks as a central hub for not only laundry but household management, organization and more.

This laundry room multi-tasks as a central hub for not only laundry but household management, organization and more.

Pantries are much more than just food storage spaces. Stow away appliances, store your wine, house extra dishes and more.

Pantries are much more than just food storage spaces. Stow appliances, store your wine, house extra dishes and more.

Home Trend: Safe Places

High-end safe rooms are increasingly in demand due in large part of erratic weather. “We have designed and built fully customized safe rooms for some of our clients,” Alan says. “They have fresh air pumped in and are stocked with supplies, food and water and even a bathroom. If a house were to burn down or a tornado hit, families could survive in their safe places.”

Home Trend: There’s an App for that

The latest in technology for your home can go from one simple control that can be operated via your smart phone, to having a fully automated home where nearly everything can be controlled remotely or with the touch of one button.

“We can design your home so that everything is integrated,” Alan says. “It can get quite expensive pretty quickly, but we do see a lot of clients who want to integrate the audio, video, security, mechanical and lighting controls into one system that you can control from your phone or computer.”

He added that there are a number of benefits to home automation from added security, to just ease of lifestyle. I mean who wouldn’t want to walk into their home and have the swimming pool lights on, music playing and doors locked or unlocked? It’s all very Jetson-esque, and it’s very popular among high-end home buyers. In fact, Alan says it’s very easy to spend $60,000 to $80,000 just on technology gadgets, but there are other more cost-effective options. “Not everyone wants the full automation, because with that comes the need for an IT person and a personal banker,” he adds. “But, the good news is you don’t have to integrate everything. There are a number of individual things like Nest, which controls your central heat and air from your phone. With products like that, there’s less IT involvement, and it’s definitely more affordable.”

“You don’t have to integrate everything. There are a number of individual things like Nest, which controls your central heat and air from your phone. With products like that, there’s less IT involvement and it’s definitely more affordable,” says Alan.

Home Trend: Viva la Difference

Although the ergonomics, added uses to existing rooms and automation are all trends in the home building market, Alan says each of these things are very customized and that very few homes being built today are the same.

“Every customer is different,” he says. “So, we are able to make sure as we talk with a new client that we know whether or not they want their home to be fully automated or not, or if a secondary kitchen is desired, and then we build to their particular specifications.”

He says the Castle Homes mentality is that your home is something you should be proud of. “It should be a destination spot,” he says. “Your home should make you feel like you are on vacation, even when you are home.”

To learn more about Castle Homes, visit castlehomes.com.

This article is sponsored by Castle Homes.