Designer Marc Thee had three words for the residential builders who attended his IBS session about floor plan trends this week: Original, memorable, and emotional.
The principal of Florida-based Marc-Michaels Interior Design, which installed $1 billion of residential interiors last year, said that homes with all three attributes sell for top dollar. Thee, named one of the world’s top designers by Architectural Digest magazine, walked the audience through dozens of ways to add these “memory points” to a home.
An attention to design details sets building firms apart from their competition, he said. “Work to catch the attention of the buyer instead of the builder down the street, who is doing what he did last year,” Thee said. Evoke emotions that lead to sales with these design elements:

Courtesy Marc-Michaels Interior Design
--Use repeating elements such as archways, light pendants, beams, or windows to create architectural rhythm.

--Spec large, low windows in order to add more light and interest to a room. “The perceived perception of the quality, square footage, and uniqueness of your home is going to double with lower sill heights,” he said.

--Contrast light and dark colors and finishes for a dramatic look. For example, combine dark wood stair risers and white railings. “Don’t be wimpy about it, live in extremes,” he urged. “If you’re going to go light, go light; if you’re going to go dark, really embrace it.”

--Kitchen islands can do double duty with a built-in booth on one side to create a functional alternative to a breakfast room or a place to do homework, play games, or check email.

--The monolithic look is big for cabinets. A wall of slab-style cabinets creates a modern counterpoint in the kitchen.

--Light coves above a kitchen island or stairs are an easy and affordable way to add pizzazz.

Courtesy Marc-Michaels Interior Design
--Butler’s pantries are becoming more functional and are moving closer to the kitchen, with space for dishwashers, ovens, and small refrigerators.

--Thee is big on high-gloss finishes for cabinets, walls, shelves, ceilings, and accessories. “The sheen always adds life to a room,” he says. “If you have a space that’s flat or a little too brown-on-brown, go in there with some reflective items to make it come to life.”

--As an alternative to traditional stained wood consider painting libraries, offices, and millwork in a high-gloss finish.

--For a large kitchen island, consider using more than one material, such as a solid surface and butcher block combination.

--Open, door-less showers are trendy right now but make sure the home has enough water pressure to ensure a steady, strong volume of warm water to keep the residents from getting cold.

--Ceiling-hung shelving units, cabinets, and mirrors are an easy way to provide a clean customized look.

--Move away from white window frames. Thee said bronze or charcoal-colored models look more expensive. “They add to that sense of richness,” he said.

--A built-in coffee bar adds an original and much-appreciated touch to the master bedroom without breaking the budget.