- 1. Statement cladding
- 2. Picture windows and floor-to-ceiling glass
- 3. Reconfiguring, not extending
- 4. Pale wood kitchens
- 5. Connected, divisible spaces
- 6. En suites, not family bathrooms
- 7. Internal panelling
- 8. Sustainable materials and recycling
- 9. Integrating the garden into a building's architecture
- 10. Energy saving
If this is the year you finally get your house in order (physically, as well as metaphorically), our home renovation trends are essential reading. Because knowing what's worth doing and what might be viewed as a fad almost before the project is done could be the difference between added value and a huge waste of money.
With building work and materials more expensive than ever, getting your project right is all-important. It's worth interrogating your plans before you start, to make sure you're doing the right thing by your property, and that's where our trends list can help.
Is Crittall-style glazing still 'in'? Are there any clever new extension ideas I hadn't considered? Should I clad my home? Can I make a difference with a small budget? We've quizzed some top architects on all these points and more, so you can start your renovation with confidence.
What do we mean by home renovation trends?
A home renovation is a huge investment, so it doesn't really make sense to follow fashions without thought for the future. That's why every trend we mention here is considered as a long-term movement by our panel of architects.
'As a business, we're not bound by fashion. We think about buildings that are going to last and be loved in decades,' says Matthew Withers, director at Stylus Architects. 'We stick to our principles of what we think are great materials, long-lasting materials, shapes and forms that will ultimately stand the test of time.'
That said, Matthew thinks it's important to take a few risks – not just 'keep up with the Joneses'. 'We encourage people to think about what they love. There's a real temptation to think "When I'm going to sell my house, I need other people to like it". But you only need two people to love it and compete for the sale. Everyone else can hate it!'
'I would say to all clients, be prepared to be a little bit uncomfortable with some design decisions at first, because you won't regret it,' Matthew adds. 'If you're fully comfortable with all the decisions you are making on the drawing board, you'll be bored by the project comes to an end. Whereas the things that you're kind of uncomfortable with, but trust in terms of direction – those are the things you'll end up truly loving.'
Our top home renovation trends for 2024
Now we've established that our trends are more 'architectural movements' rather than fads, here's what we expect will be big in 2024 and beyond.
1. Statement cladding
Matthew sees a trend for clients wanting something that's unique. 'They're prepared to be more ambitious with their brief and their vision,' he says. 'They believe, correctly, that this will produce a better end result.' And perhaps one of the easiest and most striking ways to do this is through exterior cladding.
He cites one of the company's latest projects – the 'Ribbon House', shown above – as a prime example. 'This is a completely bespoke, stainless-steel and anodised aluminium decorative cladding with geometry that's informed by the existing building's Victorian 'ribbon' detail that runs around the top,' he explains.
'Cladding also gives you the opportunity to properly differentiate the old and new parts of the house,' Matthew adds, pointing out that giving different parts of the building a completely different look is an enduring trend. 'The ability to read the different eras of the facade is a great way to tell the story of what a building was and has been turned into.'
Another huge trend is for cladding that doubles as external wall insulation (EWI). This is a popular choice for older houses, where adding internal cavity walls would have a negative impact on room sizes and original period details like fireplaces and coving.
'We liken it to giving your house a woolly jumper to wear!' says Glen Thomas, director and founder of Glen Thomas Architecture. He explains that this insulation cladding can be given all sorts of finishes, such as paintable render and timber. 'Simply by adding these insulation panels, you can completely transform the look of a dated building. Suddenly, you have a very modern-looking house that's also very energy efficient.'
Top tip: EWI is complex to install, so if you're considering it, choose a company registered with INCA (Insulated Render and Cladding Association).
2. Picture windows and floor-to-ceiling glass
Could we be saying goodbye to bi-fold doors? It's possible, at least in terms of long expanses that run the full width of a property. Instead, we're craving picture windows with banquette seating beneath, and more architectural glazing solutions.
Carlé Scott Gerber is the architecture, planning and interior design lead at Life U Design. 'Lots of people like to have floor-to-ceiling windows, particularly in kitchen extensions looking onto the garden. But there's no longer a desire for full-on glazing across the entire back of the house,' she reveals.
'You need some solid walls to provide spaces to hang artwork or place furniture. And it's sometimes more interesting if you can break a wall up with different materials, both internally and externally. With, for example, rendered versus brick internal walls, or exterior cladding such as Shou Sugi Ban (Japanese charred timber), flint and metal.'
'I think that Crittall style – at least for external glazing – is possibly on the way out,' adds Matthew Withers, who believes we'll still see Critall-style glazing as an acceptable way of dividing rooms internally. 'Meanwhile, picture windows and expanses of glass that provide a view and space, are coming in.'
'I think "big-format glazing" is better anyway,' he admits. 'It gives uninterrupted views internally and externally, and lets the structure of the building take centre stage, creatively, rather than the glass itself.'
'Structural glazing has advanced so far in the last few years and become much more affordable,’ says Glen Thomas. ‘The things you can do with glass are great – for example, we’ve got three or four companies we work with that can create huge expanses of frameless roof lights.'
3. Reconfiguring, not extending
With the cost of materials so high, even a small kitchen extension has become prohibitively expensive for some. But that needn't mean giving up on your dream home. Many architects are now encouraging their clients to improve the existing footprint, rather than simply slapping on an extension and hoping for the best.
'So many of our projects focus on trying to get height and light into a house,' says Carlé Scott Gerber. 'We want to create interesting spaces, not just add extra boxes on.'
'It's about looking at space a little bit more carefully,' she continues. 'We look at the existing footprint first and maximise that, so that the spaces work harder. Adding value to your property price comes from creating good-sized habitable spaces, so it's important to make sure your existing rooms work before you add new ones.'
'Some people will say "I just want to add something". But if your existing home doesn't flow, it doesn't always help to add.'
4. Pale wood kitchens
Demand for pale wood has stemmed from a trend familiar to a lot of interior fans. 'We're very much focused on what we call “quiet architecture”, which is something that’ much more considered and refined,' says Glen Thomas. This chimes with the growing interiors trend for quiet luxury – a movement that favours muted, luxe textures and fabrics over colour-pop maximalism.
In the kitchen, Glen defines this as a use of putty-coloured and pale timber cabinetry, and washed-out wooden floors or large stone tiles. 'We’re also looking at richer, Arts and Crafts-influenced detailing,' he adds. 'So rather than putting on a mass-produced satin-steel bar handle, we’d suggest a beautifully crafted wooden handle that’s handmade by an artisan.'
'Traditionally, we've included a lot of dark kitchens,' adds Matthew Withers, 'but we're encouraging people to look at different materials.' Matthew is actively pointing his clients towards timber, as he sees a return to retro and mid-century styling.
And they're not alone. In this project by Rees Architects, director Daniel Rees and his team have used bespoke white-oiled ash joinery to create simple yet striking floor-to-ceiling cabinetry. He likes to use timber, metal and stone, 'so that depth and tactility is brought into the building, without having to fake anything'.
5. Connected, divisible spaces
Post-pandemic, our experiences of being together as families has prompted a shift from vast, open-plan spaces into something more divisible.
‘We’re still working on large “living kitchen” projects, but what's becoming important is the ability to sub-divide spaces and have breakout spaces,’ says Carlé Scott Gerber. ‘We use a lot more pocket door systems so that you can open up a space or close it down as required. Internal Crittall-style and aluminium doors and partitions are still popular, particularly in a hallway, where you want to bring light into a snug or front room – but there will be fire regulations to consider, particularly if your house stretches over more than two floors.
'Drop-in spaces, where you have the kitchen-diner at a slightly different level to a living room or morning room, are another way to create good sense of separation,' she adds.
'We like to define the zones of a space and connect them through various means,' says Matthew. 'What goes on in the ceiling is as important as what goes on in the plan. Defining those spaces through floor finishes, the location of walls and glazing is so important. You don't end up with vast spaces with no purpose.'
'I always say to clients that the spaces shouldn't be versatile. You should try to make spaces very deliberate,' Matthew adds. 'Where your dining table is, is where your dining table will always be – not, "ooh, I'm going to have the living space here now". If the space is well-designed, that almost won't be possible. If you make a space very generic, you lose its soul and character.'
'We find there’s still a call for "your nan’s best room" when open-plan living becomes too much,' says architect Steven George of George and Co . 'We are using glazed screens in some of our projects to achieve a sense of separation.'
6. En suites, not family bathrooms
Aside from amazing bathroom tile trends, our panel of architects have seen little movement in the design of bathrooms. Standalone showers and baths are still preferred; wet rooms less so unless for accessibility reasons. However, there is one trend that does seem to be growing.
'On larger family homes, we have seen a trend towards more en-suite bathrooms, sometimes removing family bathrooms altogether,' say the team at Sketch Architects. 'Where the layout allows, we're taking one large bathroom and splitting it in two to provide smaller, private spaces that serve separate bedrooms.'
7. Internal panelling
Although wall panelling is nothing new, there's definitely a big move towards contemporary, vertically slatted panels. Also, these are being used more thoughtfully, as feature walls and to provide soundproofing on shared walls.
'Slatted wood wall panels have been a growing trend for the past five years in Europe and more recently in the United States,' says Luke Goodman, marketing manager, The Wood Veneer Hub. 'They transform a room, allowing a DIYer to completely redesign the look and feel of a wall without any professional help.'
'They can be used as a feature wall or to simply hide any outdated design in your home.'
8. Sustainable materials and recycling
You only have to look in the skip outside your neighbour's building project to know that renovation creates a lot of waste. But, in order make a minimal impact on landfill – and our wallets – designers and architects are increasingly looking for ways to reuse or upcycle existing materials.
‘We use recycled materials wherever we can – for example, we like to take our clients to reclamation yards,' says Glen Thomas. 'You might find a huge chunk of railway sleeper that we can turn into a sink unit or bench. For a recent project in a Victorian house the owners picked out reclaimed wooden floorboards, which we sanded and stained.’
'Increasingly, people are looking at their existing kitchens and seeing if there are ways you can upcycle them, rather than get rid of perfectly good units,' adds Carlé Scott Gerber. ' There are a lot of companies out there that will take your existing doors and 'zoot' them up.'
People are also turning to companies like Bristol-based Husk, whose hand-crafted fronts offer a clever way to customise IKEA and Howden’s units and create high-end premium-look kitchens at an affordable price. They're also a great way to upcycle existing carcases as Carlé suggests, and save them from landfill.
9. Integrating the garden into a building's architecture
Both Matt Withers and Glen Thomas flag a big architectural trend that's truly exciting for the nature-lovers among us – physically connecting the garden with the fabric of the building. Depending on budget, this can be done in all sorts of ways.
One of the more simple, employed by Matt, is to integrate planters or raised beds into a building's external cladding, or using the same materials. Another more familiar option is to add a green roof system covered in meadow grass to your kitchen extension or to add a reflecting pool close to the rear of your property. 'In summer, cool, moist air will flow in over the water and create natural air conditioning,' reveals Glen Thomas.
For those with more generous budgets, Glen suggests creating an internal courtyard within your home. 'So you might have a living room that looks through to a sunken courtyard that’s exposed to the elements, and then on into a bedroom,' he explains.
'It’s a design language we’ve used quite a lot over the past year or two, where you slide the doors open from a living room, step down, sit on a bench and take in all the aspects of the building,' he continues. 'The materials in the courtyard – for example, the floor – match those used inside so you feel like that courtyard is part of the house, but you also have a very private garden.’
Carlé Scott Gerber also suggests using outdoor kitchen units and flooring that mimic the design of your indoor kitchen so that they appear as a seamless continuation of one another.
10. Energy saving
Our final trend might not be 'sexy', but it's certainly smart – saving energy through our choice of heating and materials.
'People are getting more savvy,' says Tim Phillips, quantity surveyor and founder of Quantiv UK. 'They have electric cars; they're aware of higher energy bills and the incoming ban on gas boilers. It's not just in building magazines, it's in the national press and on TV. So when people are planning building work, they are prioritising energy conservation in a way they might not have done in the past.'
'Our clients are much more informed about and want to explore how their houses are heated, cooled and powered,' agrees Matthew Withers. 'We're seeing that desire to make the building more sustainable, more heat-efficient and airtight.
'For example, a much larger percentage of our projects feature the installation of renewable technology, such as air-source and ground-source heat pumps, solar panels and battery storage. Also air conditioning – there's a common misconception that air conditioning is not sustainable, but that's not the case, as it can be powered by renewable energy.'
Should I wait to renovate my home 2024?
We asked HiiGuru spokesperson and architect Rick Fabrizio. 'It depends where the property is,' he says. 'There are some areas where the market has picked up post-pandemic, and in those areas, I would say it's worth taking action sooner rather than later.
'You'll then see more value-added as prices rise, and won't risk fighting over good builders as demand grows. For example, I have a small office in the East Midlands, and I've seen interest in architectural services growing steadily there over the past couple of years as investment in the area has grown.'
'In terms of construction and material costs, they are certainly higher than they were in 2019/2020, but prices are unlikely to ever go back to that level. We have to accept that everything is more expensive.'
'After Covid, prices were so high that people were waiting, but the thing is, how long can you wait to do something?' says Carlé Scott Gerber. 'How long are you going to put up with this scenario before you can actually make your life better?'
She also points out another reason not to wait. 'Finding a builder and putting a good team together takes time. Good tradespeople get booked up quickly. So if you have the budget there and can get the right team together, go for it or you may lose out.'
You might also be pitted against the clock if you require planning permission. 'Planning permission comes with an expiration date of three years from the time it is granted,' says Carlé. 'If the work is done under permitted development then that's different, but if it's planning permission you've worked hard to get, you won't want to lose it.'
'The design process can take quite a while, especially in these times when local planning authorities are massively delayed in dealing with applications,' agrees the Sketch team. 'As a result, there is no time like the present!'
What is the most common renovation?
Not surprisingly, the most common projects involve the updating of period homes. 'We’re pretty much in the city centre of Cardiff, and a lot of the properties here are period terraces,' says Glen Thomas. 'I'd say 60-70% of our enquiries come from people with these types of houses. Upgrading these old buildings to make them as energy efficient as possible, then extending them, is by far the most common ask.'
'They are often very dark spaces – the Victorians didn’t like a lot of light or openness in their homes,' Glen continues. 'So it’s about carving a “streak” through the building, knocking down walls and having glass above that brings light into the core of the house.
'We replace the roof with a highly energy efficient structure, upgrade the internal insulation by filling stud walls and the space between floors, and extend at the back. We also add underfloor heating.'
Have you been inspired by these emerging home renovation trends?
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Amy Cutmore is an experienced interiors editor and writer, who has worked on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, GardeningEtc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.
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