Classic home features that are hot again


In the same way that vintage designs become popular again over time in designer clothing, accessories and furnishings, some classic vintage home features are finding their way back into the designs of new homes today. This Bankrate article by Dana Dratch highlights some of the home features that were big in decades past… and are hot again.

Not everything old is new again.

But just like Sinatra-style hats and skinny ties, some classic home features are timeless. From glass bricks to free-form pools, midcentury glamor is back.

And those midcentury modern homes “are (some) of our hottest houses now,” says Pat Vredevoogd Combs, past president of the National Association of Realtors and Realtor with Coldwell Banker AJS Schmidt Realty in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

As a result, builders are incorporating some of those design features into new homes, she says.

“We’re seeing people ask for a contemporary look, from the ’50s,” says Combs.

Look for clean lines, smaller and more organized spaces, and energy efficiency. “We’re going back to usability. Not froufrou stuff – a clean look,” she says.

Tastes are regional, too, says Ron Phipps, principal with Phipps Realty of Warwick, Rhode Island, and past president of the National Association of Realtors.

“While there are features that come back and have a great resurgence, they’re very influenced by geography,” he says.



“Porches fell out of vogue 10 years ago,” Phipps says. Homes either didn’t have them or there would be a small, token porch as a design element – not to actually use, he says.

Fast-forward to today when, “Porches are back in a big way,” he says. “And the porches that are being built today are built for function. They’re deep, and they’re wide.”

If there’s a great view, you might find rocking chairs on the front porch.


Glass blocks

In midcentury modern homes, glass blocks are used for everything from windows to basements and decorative elements in the home, Combs says.

“Today, you see it more in showers … a shower wall of glass blocks or decorative accessories with (glass) brick,” she says.


Farm sinks and white cabinets

The farm sink “is a real throwback,” says Cindy Bowman, listing agent with Keller Williams Realty in Charlotte, North Carolina. “It’s very popular now, and that’s purely an aesthetic thing,” she says.

The other thing that’s again popular in modern kitchens: simple, white cabinets.

“Fifteen years ago, white cabinets were out,” says Bowman. “Now people want that white kitchen.”



Another blast from the past: wallpaper. But the modern twist is that we’re seeing more geometric patterns and metallics, says Kerrie Kelly, designer and founder of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab.


Smaller, more practical spaces

“People are going away from the ginormous house,” Bowman says.

Homeowners instead want smaller spaces – as evidenced by the popularity of micro- and minihouses, she says. Also high on their list: rooms and homes that are energy- and spatially efficient, she says.

“There’s been a cultural shift,” says Bowman. “Bigger is not always better, and energy efficiency is a big deal.”

Look for less square footage, with clean lines and plenty of organizational features, such as shelves, closets, and closet organizers.


Rec rooms

This one’s back with a vengeance. The difference this time: Instead of an old couch and a pool table shoved in the basement next to the water heater, homeowners are spending some money to finish off these rooms in style and turning them into 2nd great rooms, says Phipps.

Look for wet bars, built-in entertainment and sound systems, home theaters, and flooring that stands up to wear and still looks great (such as indoor/outdoor carpet or tile).

And families aren’t afraid to personalize these spaces; one family turned their basement into a computer lab and video-editing bay, Phipps says.


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