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TOP TRENDS In New Home Construction For 2019
Milwaukee area experts on what’s new, what’s lasting and what’s on the way out


April 2019

Photo courtesy of Bielinski Homes

Creating a home that speaks to our personal style used to be all about the interior design. No more. Today’s busy lifestyles (even long after we’ve retired) demand that modern home design cater to our need for rooms and amenities that keep our households humming not just beautifully, but efficiently, with plenty of space for activities like work and working out. Here, local home building experts share top trends in new home construction, whether you’re looking to build or rethinking existing space.

Farewell Formal Dining Rooms

It happened to the formal living room — and now it’s time to say goodbye to the formal dining room. People are desiring more casual spaces for both their active —as in hectic — lifestyle and for entertaining. We are starting to produce more plans with an everyday eating space that adjoins the kitchen and great room along, with a snack bar attached to a kitchen island. We are also seeing existing homes with formal dining rooms being converted into home offices. — Paul Bielinski, Chief Executive Officer, Bielinski Homes


Land and Lot Development

In recent years, we’ve shifted our land development focus to smaller “boutique subdivisions” in contrast to the typical 100-plus-lot subdivisions that were developed in the early 2000s. Many of our clients are seeking more secluded properties that are 1 to 3 acres in size. Our recent developments, Lake Bluff Estates (Town of Merton), Field’s Crossing (Town of Genesee) and The Arboretum (Town of Genesee) consist of 8-15 lots, are located in highly desirable areas, and offer spectacular views, mature hardwood trees and natural land conservancy. — John Harlos, Vice President of Sales and Purchasing, Kings Way Homes


Energy-Efficient and Renewable Energy Homes

Conservation of natural resources and a focus on developing renewable energy resources will always be important, not only for our local community, but for the global community. We have found that participation in the Wisconsin Focus on Energy Program, an independent, third-party inspection consultant, helps us keep raising the bar in our efforts to produce an energy-efficient home. — John Harlos


Connected Homes

Home automation is constantly evolving. Homeowners look to technology to provide solutions to satisfy their needs in nearly every aspect of their lives. Our homes include a structured wiring package that serves as central hub for a connected home network. This network allows for the connection of devices that offer homeowners a variety of services ranging from convenience to entertainment to safety. — John Harlos

Photo courtesy of Bielinski Homes

Larger Laundry Rooms

This once small space that was used for a single chore has evolved into so much more. Now it’s a multifunctional space that doubles as a mudroom. Look for itsems like additional cabinetry and countertops, laundry sinks for delicates (or small pet bathing), drying poles and locker systems that make dropping off cold weather gear, pet supplies and the many packages we receive (and return) a breeze. — Paul Bielinski


Reclaimed Style

Sustainability is here to stay. The concept of living an eco-friendly lifestyle is now ingrained in designers, with features like reclaimed wood and fixtures adding a fresh and stylish look.  — Casey Masterson, President, Halen Homes, LLC


Walk-In Pantries

At one time, people used their upper cabinets for pantry items, and then we started providing every home with a pantry cabinet. Now it’s all about the walk-in pantry. Almost every home design we offer has a pantry cabinet included. Pantry cabinets provide an abundant amount of storage for the obvious pantry staples, plus room for all of our gadgets, which include our many small appliances like juicers and InstaPots. — Paul Bielinski



The installation of a residential home elevator is not only a reactive response to changes in one’s lifestyle, but a proactive approach for homeowners to retain accessibility to their entire home throughout their lives. An increasing number of our customer’s homes have been built with residential elevators or with accommodations for an elevator to be installed in the future. In many cases, the primary reason for the elevator was not an immediate, but rather a desire to accommodate a potential future need, and ultimately allow the homeowner to stay in their home longer than they would have been able to without one. — John Harlos


Soaking Tubs and Oversized Showers

The 1990s and 2000s were riddled with homes that included whirlpool tubs. Many people who bought or built homes with these tubs found a good amount of square footage was donated to an item that simply wasn’t practical for modern, busy lifestyles. Now people devote this space to an oversized shower and/or replace their whirlpool tub in existing homes with a freestanding soaking tub. — Paul Bielinski


Lighting with Color and Texture

Milwaukee is still looking for “Modern Farmhouse,” but we don’t think that will be sticking around much longer. For clients looking for a classic, timeless look, the lantern-style fixture is very popular — and not just for entryway lighting, but over dining or island spaces too. We are seeing many fixtures in black, soft gold and fixtures with a bit of color. Clients are also starting to warm to the idea of lighting with mixed finishes for a more custom look. Also, integrated LED light fixtures are becoming more common, especially in bath and flush-ceiling mounts. — Becky Kruschke, Vice President, Elektra Lights & Fans Inc.


Dramatic Flooring

Bold prints are the hottest flooring trend to date in 2019, with geometric patterns making a dramatic entrance. — Casey Masterson


Multifunctional Garages

Single-family attached and secondary detached garages have evolved far beyond the simple idea of car storage. We have built several homes over the past few years that not only featured completely finished and climate-controlled interiors, but spaces for everything from multiple car lifts, to entertainment features, to sport and fitness training equipment. — John Harlos


Outdoor Fire Tables

Less costly to produce and more streamlined than a full fireplace, fire tables allow users to gather around the entire space, prop their feet up on the coping and set their drink nearby. Plus, fire tables bring the fire element up to a more inviting, visible level. Most clients run a natural gas line to the unit with a key valve to turn it on and off conveniently. — Dan Western, Registered Landscape Architect, La Rosa Landscape Company, Inc.

Photos courtesy of Halen Homes, LLC

One Fireplace Two Ways

We showcased a home with a dual-sided fireplace, both inside and outside the home, that is perfect for entertaining guests inside during the winter and outside when those Wisconsin summer and autumn nights get a little cool. — Casey Masterson

Photo courtesy of La Rosa Landscape Company, Inc.

Shade Sails

We are installing a lot of shade sails for clients that don’t want the maintenance involved with a cedar pergola or arbor. Increasingly popular with lakefront homes, these sails come in multiple colors and also provide full shade, unlike wooden pergolas that still allow some light to filter through. Installed on tubular, powder-coated steel post, the sails are custom made to any specific size and anchored to the posts with stainless steel hardware and eye bolts. Multiple, overlapping sails provide the best-looking application. Shade sails can be left up spring through fall, but need to be taken down for the winter months, as the snow loads could be an issue. — Dan Western


Composite Decking

Composite decking with aviation cable railing is also increasing in popularity. Less maintenance is the primary advantage for using composite decking — no paint or sealers are needed. The use of stainless steel aviation cable for railings is a great way to incorporate a contemporary, modern look, again with much less maintenance, and very minimum impact on views from the deck. — Dan Western

This story ran in the April 2019 issue of: