MHInsider Takes Look at Home Trends at The Kickoff for the 2019 Trade Show Season – The Louisville Show
Every January, The MHInsider magazine for manufactured housing professionals strives to bring readers the latest and most relevant home trends, offerings and products for the coming season.
In researching our annual home trends piece, we had conversations with dozens of sources from a variety of manufacturers. We asked what new offerings they could point to that came from customer need, whether that customer is a homeowner or home seller.
After all, each one of us is in the solutions business. And each new model at The Louisville Show has that signature mark that is an important step up in lifestyle offering, home efficiency or general comfort.
So take a look, prepare for what you’ll see in Louisville, and get ready for a great sales season!
Champion Homes Ups the Ante with Ultimate Kitchen Series
Ultimate Kitchen 3 continues the offerings that have built a reputation of sleek design and cutting-edge amenities.
The latest edition provides more innovation, from its European-inspired industrial styling to its state-of-the-art conveniences.
UK3, as it’s come to be known, features:
- A cooking station equipped with a stainless steel slide-in range
- Easy to access front controls
- Stainless steel backsplash
- Folding chrome utility racks
- and a slim, Euro-style range hood
“The way we designed this package allows us to be very flexible. It can go into any home, any size, any configuration. We can make all of these beautiful new features work to the greatest of their ability in the space the customer most desires,” said Roberto Kritzer, Skyline Champion Corp.’s vice president of design.
“We are working toward implementing this new kitchen package in the newest models each day,” Kritzer said. “This kitchen goes into manufactured homes, modular homes. We’ve already put it in park models and community series homes.”
Sleek Lines, Stainless Styling Goes Beyond Appliances
Champion floats stainless steel shelves for added storage space, as well as a raw, utilitarian look that contrasts nicely with the warmth of the Shaker-style cabinetry. The look continues its blend of texture and color with clean lines by assigning modern cabinet pulls, glass subway tile backsplash and stainless steel appliances from Whirlpool.
“I’m excited about the all-new UK3 that our design team has created. They have integrated several trending features into this design that new homebuyers are looking for,” said Mark Yost, Skyline Champion’s executive vice president.
UK3 boasts improved utility through ample storage space in the cabinets, drawers and cubbies. LED accent lighting behind the frosted glass of overhead cabinets opens the room with subtle hues that showcase the profile of nicely stored stemware.
The Farmhouse Sink Remains Relevant
And, what would the offering be without that amazing farmhouse sink?
“You will see features that really have only been seen in upper-scale site-built homes … recessed LED mirrors, super islands, pot filler sink,” Skyline Champion Director of Community Sales Byron Stroud said of the plumbed-in flex-neck faucet. “It reaches over the range so you can fill a large pot without having to carry it.”
The sink also has a designated straining basket, drying rack and cutting board. It contains a protective bottom rack to help prevent scratches. And the focal point of the sink is the black and brushed nickel faucet that provides the flex neck user experience.
Kritzer said “less is more” remains at play, despite the introduction of so many new features.
“We wanted to keep that open feel. The stainless steel shelves do this. And the nice blend between contemporary and modern, it works very well with the overall theme of clean lines and an open feel,” Kritzer said. “We managed to maintain the feel we wanted, but create a look that you really only have seen in very expensive kitchen configurations.
“The response has been phenomenal.”
Adventure Homes Unveils Nevada Series
Adventure Homes, a manufacturer based in Garrett, Ind., plans to use the Louisville Manufactured Housing Show to introduce its Nevada Series of homes to the general public.
General Manager Rich Rice said the Nevada Series is for people who “want to get the high-end look without the high-end price.”
The Nevada homes will include a drywall finish, which is trending for buyers who are interested in the more traditional site-built residential look.
“You won’t find anybody who will offer a drywall product as inexpensive as ours,” Rice said.
He said homebuyers these days want the affordability of a manufactured home but with more of those same high-end features common in a site-built home. Hardwood cabinets, painted finishes, high ceilings and a variety of carpet and wall color top the list.
“The more we can mimic site builders, the better our sales will be,” Rice said. “It’s almost like we’re taking the mobile home out of the house.”
However, some sales truisms are unchanged, he said. Kitchens and bathrooms always sell houses, for example. But changing customer expectations push manufacturers to add features like white and gray cabinetry.
‘Gray is the New Beige’
“There’s a quote: ‘Gray is the new beige,’” Rice said. “Not that everybody wants it, but it should be represented in your offerings.”
Contemporary home buyers like an abundance of windows throughout the house. Many fall in love with a welcoming entrance, which can include bold accent colors, sidelights and transom windows over the door, he said.
There also are evolving ideas about use of space. Bedroom space often was sacrificed in the past for larger dining and living rooms. But now larger bedrooms are in vogue. In response, designers are finding ways to maximize space in the home’s communal areas — installing an eating island and removing the dining table, for example. Parents also want “bonus space” in the house — a place they can send their kids to get some peace and quiet, Rice said.
Fleetwood Homes Looks Toward Clean, Simplified Designs
Where Fleetwood Homes are manufactured, builders are working on simplified designs that have a clean look and are easy to maintain for a new homeowner. Those design decisions will show up in the company’s 2019 models, including those on display at the Louisville Show.
“I think you’ll see this year, not only in our product but with the industry backlog, the homes have gotten a bit simpler,” Fleetwood Homes National Design Manager Russell Bratcher said.
As an example of simplification, last year Fleetwood brought a three-box modular home to the Louisville Show. This year they’ll have a two-box mod. It’s a little easier to build and a little easier to set up. It’s also easier to maintain.
“We’ll have straight-line cabinets, more clean lines, like a craftsman look in the molding rather than those heavy profiles in crown molding and such,” Bratcher said. “On our products, we are going back to more of a straight-line look that’s easy to install and will have fewer if any service issues.”
Go For The ‘Vintage Look’
Vintage looks with a combination of matte and shiny finishes will create some “eye candy,” he said. Improved wood grains in linoleum flooring have made its use much more common. And greens and blues are coming back to dominate the color schemes, Bratcher said.
“Large-tile showers are still trending, and large, wide windows throughout add some pop, too,” Bratcher said.
Cabinet colors continue to trend toward lighter, with whites and grays. There is less of the hardwood look with browns and cherry color.
“We’ll still mix some of that in, but as an accent rather than a whole,” Bratcher said. “It’s all about mixing the colors for texture. Back in the day, if you had white appliances, you would have all white appliances. But the design approach today is more with thoughtful mixing and matching of, say, stainless and black.”
Fleetwood Homes in Lafayette, Tenn., will show three homes at Louisville, including a single- and multi-section home from the Sandalwood line. Fairmont Homes, another builder under the Cavco family of brands, will show one multi-section home, one single-section home and a modular model.
Bratcher said energy is high in the industry, including among the builders and retailers in his network.
“As a company, we’re anticipating continued growth,” he said. “When business was tough, we were doing more customization. We were more willing to move a window or a door to sell a manufactured home. But the orders have been so high, and we anticipate them going up again in 2019. We’re really working on that efficiency in production.”
Clayton Homes Gets More Design-Intensive for 2019
Flex space has become a primary initiative among designers at Clayton Homes, which operates 40 manufacturing facilities nationwide.
“We have this concept toward a flex space in floor plans. This is a space that’s not designated as a bedroom or anything else,” said Clayton Homes Lead Designer Ashley Skowron. “Some people might make it a bedroom, but it also may be a craft room or office, or playroom for the kids.”
Skowron said Clayton has begun to emphasize a more centralized, team approach for design decisions. Part of that initiative means a lot of travel, touring facilities and meeting with retailers in most markets.
“The flex room is something that retailers really have done well with,” she said. “People say it’s great for the kids … to have a den or extra space from the main living area, but when the parent becomes an empty nester, you can repurpose the room for another need.”
And while the farmhouse look remains relevant among home trends for many builders and buyers, Clayton is finding ways to regionalize the aesthetic.
“We have five or six different farmhouse-style homes right now rolling through different facilities,” said Corporate Communications Manager Audrey Eason. “All drywall, hard surfaces, big open windows, kitchen island, stylistic light fixtures, shiplap and other texturing.
“So you have plants that supply a particular region and they can stylize it in a way that really fits the culture, the expected look for that region,” she said. “Every region has its own farmhouse look.”
Modern Architecture, Style Choices On the Rise
Skowron points to NXT Homes, a new series out of Athens, Texas. She sees it as an indicator of design preferences steering toward more modern looks.
“That home follows suit, with the light and bright cabinets and natural oak color trim, the increase in linoleum,” she said. “The NXT Homes models really are pushing forward the trends we may see take hold during 2019.”
Each home uses canned lighting, for instance, rather than decorative globe lighting.
“There will be more shiplap wallboard, open shelves, marble surfaces, bold colors, a bit of brushed brass in the mix,” Skowron said. “Low maintenance products are something we are always mindful of, for ease of use and lifestyle improvements.”
Technology comes to play in the new models too, particularly those with modern features. The Clayton Series homes and the NXT Homes all will be appointed with ecobee smart thermostat systems, for instance. Some will have smart doorbells and built-in surround sound.
“The same design intent typically goes in both single- and multi-section homes, too,” she said. “We take features out of one home and can push it into a different floor plan, which includes a powder room, his and hers closets, flex space … all of these features are in the single-section as well as the multi-section home.”