Modern Trends for 2018

Fresh new ideas in coastal architecture, interior design, and outdoor living

Ryan Hughes Design Build project.

Photo by Joe Traina


Now more than ever architects, designers, and other coastal home experts are finding new ways to infuse homes with beauty, style, comfort, and innovation. Some use dramatic textures and artistic custom detailing; others employ furnishings in chic new colors and ultra-smart technology that simplifies day-to-day life. 

The best coastal architects, designers, and builders will always find innovative ways to blend indoor and outdoor spaces while creating luxe new spaces for chilling and admiring the view. Meanwhile, landscape architects and custom pool builders continue raising the bar on outdoor areas for relaxation, partying, and staying fit. 

In fact, as you’ve already seen in this issue (page 16), sophisticated firms and adventurous clients are pushing coastal home design into dynamic new areas. So what will be the hot new coastal home design trends of 2018? We asked a team of respected coastal interior designers and architects, along with well-known furniture, outdoor living, and home technology experts, the same simple question. This is what we found out.    


Think beyond the portico

Designers Jamie Scott and Liz Hand-Fry of Connecticut-based Group Works LLC are creating exterior settings finessed with the finer points of architectural design. Situated around pools, the settings evoke a sense of drama inspired by travels and romance. For one home, Scott created an outdoor room outfitted with high-end lounge furniture and gauzy curtains for mood. “It’s about creating vignettes: little rooms in a highly architectural setting,” Scott says. “Walls and roofs create cozy spaces and embrace you.”,



Technological advances and new materials are expanding the world of water features set on coastal landscapes. “I see the trend of adding drama to outdoor living areas continuing,” says Ryan Hughes of Ryan Hughes Design Build in the Tampa, Florida, area. “For those who want the luxury of their home to extend outside, the possibilities for drama are continuing to grow. This often incorporates science and artistry.” For one East Coast home, Hughes set a dramatic but homey tone around an elegant Italianate-style colonnaded portico with romantic fire pits. The LED lighting, designed by Hughes and installed by PAL Lighting in Houston, are hidden within the structures, pillars, and pool features and only visible when glowing at night.


The art of the pool 

Swimming pools are entering new, creative territory. Melissa C. Gillespie, editor of Luxury Pools + Outdoor Living magazine, is captivated by a current trend to maximize the appearance of pool floors with starry 3D effects and intricate mosaic designs. For even greater visual appeal, many homeowners are ditching the deck, Gillespie says, using techniques such as steel-plate edges and zero-edge coping—taking the grass all the way to the edge of the pool—for a softer, seamless look. “Today’s designs continue to emphasize blending the indoors and outdoors. The key to accomplishing this is to work with a pool builder, landscape architect, and the primary architect to create a master plan,” she notes. “It’s really about integrating the pool design into the entire outdoor living space. Pools are no longer simply an afterthought.”


Let there be light

Playing off the outdoor environment is always fashionable in ocean homes, and lighting fixtures can participate in this endeavor. Don’t be afraid to make a bold statement with lighting fixtures, recommends Lucy Dearborn, owner of Lucia Lighting and Design in Lynn, Massachusetts. Pendant lighting and chandeliers are very much in style for both interiors and exteriors, Dearborn says. “For chandeliers this year, it’s all about circles,” she elaborates. “Geometric shapes are also a hot commodity when it comes to pendant lighting.” Several manufacturers, including Fulham and Zephyr, which debuted an LED interior pendant, are offering pleasing, artful designs.


Details, details, details

A home should reflect its owner’s special character, and unique, artistic detailing gets to the heart of the matter. John R. DaSilva, AIA, design principal at Polhemus Savery DaSilva Architects Builders (PSDAB) on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is seeing the rise of artistic details in his firm’s designs. For one client who worked for the State Department, PSDAB designed a dramatic weathervane depicting an eagle in flight. For another, the firm partnered with an artisan to create glass doors with the opulent look of cut crystal, shimmering with reflected light like the adjacent ocean bay. It’s about expressing individuality. “We all share characteristics, but no two people are identical,” DaSilva muses. “Everyone has an image of themselves that they wish to project. So, too, with our clients through their houses.”


Clean color

Color and form in furniture styles are embellishing the interiors of plush coastal homes, creating a pleasing dose of the unexpected. Andrew Terrat, design and trade development director at home products firm Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, is seeing a trend of sleek, modern furniture upholstered in super-comfortable materials and drenched in eye-catching colors. “Picture a clean-lined, peridot-colored sofa contrasted by a table crafted from the beautiful root of a teak tree,” Terrat says. “It’s simple and calm, yet dramatic and full of personality.”


Cool to the touch

Designer Robyn Branch, who recently dressed the interiors of several homes in Christophe Harbour, Saint Kitts, cites a dazzling rollout of patterns, textures, and weaves that mix organic and specialized materials. One home features a powder room ceiling constructed of black bamboo embedded in concrete, plus an ultra-chic bedroom bench that melds dried grass and epoxy built by Miami furniture designer Serge de Troyer. A Clei transforming bed in the pool house, in metallic-blue vinyl, is as bright as a bauble. Varying the textures creates the most dramatic results, Branch says: “Texture uses light to distinguish layers and is key in good design. It blends without matching, enunciates interest, and creates scale and pattern to pull an entire room together.”


Push button control  

Breathtaking advances in technology are affecting every room of the house, easing maintenance and providing functional ease, pleasurable leisure activities, and security. Audio One, a specialist in customized smart home technology, just outfitted a $35 million South Florida home with automated fountains and fireplaces and high-tech security, as well as motorized windows, shades, and indoor/outdoor lighting. Jennifer Yosowitz, COO and vice president of Audio One, says the technology is streamlined and simple, “giving the homeowner complete touch-of-a-button control of the house from anywhere in the world.”


Ocean views

The starring role in ocean homes still belongs to the view, and an upward trend in architectural design is opening homes to more expansive views and, in turn, achieving interiors that feel more spacious and light. Senior Project Designer Justin Detwiler, of John Milner Architects in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, says that “upside down” houses—where the main living spaces top the home—continue to gain popularity to expand views while helping protect houses from rising sea levels. Detwiler recently designed an oceanfront home in New Jersey with primary living space on the second and third floors and secondary garage and service spaces on the lower level, after the existing 1970s home was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. As Detwiler says, “Moving the primary living spaces to the upper floors not only allows for capturing unobstructed ocean views but also serves to better capture natural breezes.” 


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