2019 Custom Home Trends

Guest Editor: Janet Owen

We asked Chicago real estate broker (and Rodger’s wife) Janet Owen, a leading Chicago luxury Real Estate Broker with Bershire Hathaway Home Services, to offer some insights on custom home trends for 2019. We asked her what she sees as the must-haves for buyers these days. Here is her list.

Your home definitely has to not only be a “smart home”, but it must have a PhD! The ability to control lighting, heating and cooling, and the weather report remotely is a must, as is the ability to raise and lower shades in each room of the home. Blinds with pull chains are as “old school” as phones with wires or wires anywhere in your home, for that matter.

Security is important. Remote control garage door openers are a must. We just had our firewood delivered while we were away for Thanksgiving. My husband Rodger, opened the garage door remotely for the delivery company and they brought it right in. The garage door was closed remotely, all while he was watching them deliver on our cameras. We get an alert when anything happens anywhere near our home and we have instant access to our security cameras on our phones.

Oh, and about that garage? There will be driverless cars in there within a few years. I don’t believe it either, but it is happening. And you don’t have an electric charger? The time is now to integrate that into your new home. Garages that look like rooms, robots cleaning the floors- need I say more? The key is embracing technology- it’s rapidly changing and we all need to be up to date.

Alexa, Siri and whomever are everywhere. Ask one of them to program your oven to turn on or off on a whim, play the music you are in the mood to hear. Robotics are not the future, they are now and if you are in denial you will be left behind. Let’s not forget to mention the choices on TV. Needless to say absolutely everything is on demand anywhere, anytime, and anyplace. No one watches anything that is actually happening now with the exception of the Oscars, the latest news events or perhaps the finals of a sporting event.

Regarding finishes, I hear everywhere that granite is “definitely out”. What’s hot? Leathered quartzite countertops in your kitchen. Brass finishes and grass cloth wall coverings are back, or so I have heard from some of my friends and colleagues who are well known interior designers. “Mid-century modern” and “transitional” are key words I hear all the time. Open spaces are still in high demand but not a lot of “things” to fill every nook and cranny. Family photos and mementos will hopefully never go out of style.

When building a custom home, outdoor kitchens are a “must” as are attached garages, pools and room sized mudrooms for the children and all their paraphernalia. Decompress when coming in from the garage and put everything in its’ place in the mudroom. It makes perfect sense to me. And who wants to get wet on the way to a party on a rainy or snowy evening? For me, that is the most important reason for an attached garage! Create an alert on your phone and be sure your system closes the garage door after you walk into the house or after you drive away. A garage door being left open is a huge security breach.


Just recently, I heard a buyer wanted a climbing wall in their home gym. Another wanted an in-home art studio. The list is really endless. Accommodating the way buyers live is ultimately the most important thing in new home design trends.

Any other questions? Ask Alexa. Or better yet, ask BGD&C Custom Homes and tell them what you want for your particular lifestyle. They are great listeners and will make it happen. – Janet Owen, top producing broker of Berkshire Hathaway KoenigRubloff.

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