From Timeless to Trendy: Home Design Insights From Our Design Studio Team

From Timeless to Trendy: Home Design Insights From Our Design Studio Team

Headshots of Kate and Leah, members of the design studio team.

May 25, 2023

With over seven decades of building high-quality new homes in the Lehigh Valley, Kay Builders has undoubtedly seen an array of design trends come and go throughout the years. Despite the constant evolution of design, though, one thing remains constant—our commitment to delivering exceptional new homes that effortlessly combine timeless with trendy. This is all attributed to our phenomenal team of experts, especially in our design studio.

Recently, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Kate Follweiler, our Design Studio Showroom Manager, and Leah Shahin Dorsey, our Design Studio Coordinator, as they share their profound insights into the latest and future design trends and uncover the meticulous design process that sets Kay Builders apart. Whether you're looking to learn more about new home design trends, or simply want to dive deep into Kay Builders’ design process—read below to hear from Kate and Leah as they offer up their expertise on current and upcoming design trends.

Q: What are some of the biggest design trends you're seeing in new homes today?

A: Kate - “In homebuilding, the focus is on functional kitchens, pantries, and flex spaces in the home for parents and kids alike—especially as people continue to work remotely, and children need a place to do their homework after school or just relax away from the commotion. Regarding color and materials, it seems like the consensus among designers is that warm neutrals will dominate in 2023 as opposed to cool gray, which is ending its design cycle. If gray is around for a bit, it will be much warmer. We are moving from cool-toned kitchens and baths to earth tones, warm colors, and natural wood cabinets in lighter stains.”

A: Leah - “We are seeing kitchens with large islands that allow space for families and friends to gather, and functionality is the most important when it comes to a kitchen. Windows and natural lighting make a huge difference in color palettes—so kitchens with more than one window over the sink or corner windows help create a welcoming and more open environment. Another trend is monochromatic color schemes, which can create calming and consistent spaces. Additionally, combinations of paint and stains are one of my favorite trends, and we have a lot of homeowners that love breaking up a painted kitchen with a wood-stained island—as it brings warmth and interest to the room. Energy efficient homes are also huge right now, which can be reflected throughout the design of your home in warm, earthy tones and sustainable materials.”

Q: How do you think these trends will evolve in the future?

A: Kate - “We’ll be seeing more lighter woods or warm neutral paint colors in cabinetry, as more natural elements are being brought into the home. People want their homes to become more calm and quiet havens—and that also means relaxing, spa-like bathrooms. Kay Builders offers quite a few lighter wood options and styles, and also a beautifully warm paint color for our cabinets that is a perfect match for this current design trend!”

Q: What are some design elements that you think are timeless and will always be in style?

A: Kate - “Wood floors, but we are moving away from engineered hardwood and into luxury vinyl planks that have the warmth of wood, but none of the downsides. It is waterproof, scratch resistant, easy to maintain, and perfect for families or pet owners.”

A: Leah - “White kitchens. White kitchens provide a clean slate so homeowners can make it theirs, whether it’s a bold and elegant countertop or a pop of color with dish towels and/or appliances. Neutral floors are also incredibly timeless, from hardwood and laminate to vinyl planks. Lastly, stainless steel appliances are always timeless in my opinion. I love the look of simple stainless steel appliances in a kitchen!”

Q: How do you balance staying on-trend with creating a design that will stand the test of time? 

A: Kate - “Leah and I spend a great deal of time looking at on-trend designs, but ultimately, the design that stands the test of time is the one that best reflects a homeowner’s lifestyle and aesthetic. So, while we guide them in getting the best look for their home, in the end—it must be all about what they love and what works best for them. Once they choose the one key piece that they love, we offer the best counsel we can about different products, styles, and color combinations to make that one piece the starting point of an impressive room.”

Q: Can you walk us through your design process when working with a new homeowner?

A: Leah - “With Kay Builders’ CUSTOM-i-ZABLE features, it’s so amazing to get personal with our homeowners and really let their creativity shine through in their home design—we’re just here to help guide them. I always start my appointments by asking homeowners what they have envisioned for their new home, whether it’s neutral tones, painted cabinets, modern finishes, etc. I have a lot of homeowners that share their inspiration pictures or Pinterest boards with me so I can think of ideas or pull colors to help bring their visions to life. I do like to keep a homeowner’s budget in mind, and many things can be done after closing that add a ton of personality to spaces.

Usually, I start with the flooring that will be in the kitchen and have homeowners select a couple of options. Once we add cabinets and countertops, homeowners are able to see which combinations they like and we continue to add from there. We add hardware, backsplashes, faucets, etc., and I have homeowners take pictures throughout the process so they can reflect on them when they go home.

I review the cabinets that are in their kitchen, asking questions of whether they prefer drawers to cabinets, want built-in trash pull-outs, pull-out spice racks, pull-out trays in cabinets—any items that help make their kitchen more functional and create a flow through the room. Kitchens usually take the most time, and moving onto bathrooms tend to be extensions of kitchens, keeping with similar color palettes. I like to finish appointments with carpeting, handrail stains and spindles—items that can be easier to select and create cohesiveness across the house.”

Q: How do you incorporate a client's personal style into a home's design?

A: Leah - “I always ask homeowners if they are bringing existing furniture or important pieces to their new home and how I can help them work with colors that will allow them to keep or showcase those special pieces. I am always in favor of homeowners taking their time with selections and not settling for an option they are just “ok” with. I frequently ask them during appointments if they are happy with their selections and if they waver or pause, I will take the time to review the selections and see if there are any other options within the budget that fit their visions. If a homeowner loves the look of a bold color, then by all means—I will help them select a statement tile or cabinet!”

Q: How do you stay inspired and keep up with the latest design trends?

A: Kate - “Leah and I are constantly looking at industry publications and websites, as well as Pinterest and even design shows on HGTV. We share them and then meet in the design studio to try and recreate the looks with all the options and materials we offer at Kay Builders. Like we tell our homeowners, even if we don’t have the exact material in a picture they might show us—we can definitely get the look. Plus, we are very fortunate to be working on our many Quick Delivery Homes, where we team up with our Sales Managers and put together color schemes and different options that we feel a buyer would love to just bring their belongings and move right into!”

A: Leah - “I like to spend time every day looking at Instagram, seeing what others have created and what is new. My husband and I purchased a home that was flipped, so I am always looking at ways to bring current or upcoming trends into our home. It’s great to say to homeowners ‘Oh, I have that in my own house!’ and be able to show them pictures!”

Q: Can you share any memorable design projects you've worked on recently?

A: Kate - “Leah and I had a rewarding experience working very closely with our Design and Drafting team on a special project. They had designed a fantastic floor plan and then we all met and incorporated current interior design elements and trends that enhanced the design even more. It is a home that we are all very proud of, and the buyer loves it as well. The comment from the homeowner was that it was ‘obviously a well thought out home’—and we took that as the highest compliment.”

A: Leah - “I had a homeowner recently who began their appointment with a color palette that they were not interested in wavering from, and throughout the appointment, we kept finding more and more options that they fell in love with that weren’t part of the original plan. By the end of the appointment, the house flowed beautifully from one room to another. The homeowners loved their selections and kept repeating that these were not selections they had planned on making, but loved even more than their initial idea. We had a wonderful appointment and they were so excited about their new Kay Builders home!”

Q: What are some upcoming design trends that you're most excited about?

A: Kate - “The butler’s pantry! I am so happy to be seeing these very functional and aesthetic rooms making a comeback as an extension of the kitchen.”

A: Leah - “I love arches in homes, they create such a warm and welcoming space. Wood-toned cabinets with warm wood floors are also things I’m excited to see—and Kay Builders is already ahead of the curve with the options we offer.”

Q: Is there anything else you'd like new homeowners to know about the design process at Kay Builders?

A: Kate - “Your home should reflect how you live and what you and your family need in the space. Just because we might label a room the ‘dining room’ doesn't mean that is how it has to function in your home. We can add doors, more windows or more lighting to create a home office or a place for the kids to play and do homework. Talk to your Sales Manager and let us take care of it for you now, so you can use every bit of your home from day one!”

A: Leah - “It’s okay to change your mind about something you had planned on if you find something you love, and don’t be afraid to try something new! I am here to help bring your vision to life, so don’t be afraid to ask questions or bring inspiration photos.”

Experience the perfect combination of timeless and trendy with Kay Builders

At Kay Builders, we believe that your home is an expression of your individuality, and our highly-regarded CUSTOM-i-ZABLE features and in-depth design process are tailored to bring your personal style to life. With the guidance of Kate and Leah and the rest of our team of experts here at Kay Builders, you'll discover the perfect balance between staying on-trend and creating a design that withstands the test of time. From functional kitchens and gathering spaces to tranquil retreats and top-quality materials, our team is committed to transforming your vision into a reality. Trust us to craft a home that not only reflects your lifestyle—but also inspires you every single day. To embark on an extraordinary journey with a brand-new home in the Lehigh Valley with Kay Builders, feel free to contact us today at (484) 353-6100 or fill out our online form!

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