BALA Awards Shine a Spotlight on Top Design Trends for 2017 and Beyond

Press Release

A remarkable 127 single-family, multifamily, remodeling and community projects were honored at the 2016 Best in American Living Awards™ (BALA) ceremony held during the 2017 National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Fla., including nine “best in region” and five “of the year” winners. These projects represent the nation’s best in home and community design, interior design and remodeling.

The awards also celebrated the first winner of the “game changer” award, a new category meant to award innovative ideas in the home building industry. One project was given a Wow! award, a special award given by judges to a project with a unique design detail.

“Contemporary architecture continues to grow in popularity and spread away from the coasts and Sun Belt to markets that would be considered traditional,” said Bill Sanderson, one of the eight 2016 BALA judges.

“Community planning is being taken to a new level,” said Sue Bady, another BALA judge. “Varied elevations make for more interesting streetscapes. Age-targeted amenities offer something for everyone, and outdoor spaces are designed for active pursuits as well as relaxation. In other words, home buyers have more choices than ever.”

BALA winners showcase top design trends that home buyers can expect to see in homes and communities over the next several years. Some of this year’s more widespread trends include:

Benches and nooks: In both single-family custom and production homes, architects and designers include benches and nooks throughout the homes. These small spaces are cozy, chic and practical, serving as places to snuggle up with the kids or a good book.

Big showers and tubs: “The bigger, the better” seemed to be a trend with this year’s winners, which include bigger showers and tubs than in the past. Free-standing tubs are luxuriously large, and showers incorporate wall-to-wall glass and universal design features.

Board and batten: Board and batten is prominent on the exteriors of this year’s class of winners, a classic touch to today’s contemporary interiors. Some winners add a unique spin to the siding by adjusting the width of the boards, giving homes a more customized, one-of-a-kind feel.

Dark door and window frames: On multifamily, custom and production homes, architects and designers opt for dark brown or black frames around windows and doors instead of whites. Windows pop on white or light siding, and dark frames add a striking effect from the interior looking out.

Metal roofs: Metal roofs are featured on custom homes across the country, from more traditional homes to modern farmhouse and distinctively modern homes.

Modern farmhouse: Farmhouse features are included in this year’s group of winners, including farmhouse sinks, reused wood siding in interior design details and barn doors. Barn doors are customized to have a more contemporary feel, including glass, white tints and metal hardware.

Natural wood beams: From remodels to new homes, wood beams left in their original state add a natural touch to homes and create a focal point in interiors.

Natural wood ceilings: Hardwood floors have always been popular with home owners, but this year’s winners included an unusual number of homes with natural wood ceilings. These ceilings add warmth to the home and can be used in traditional and more contemporary designs.

Shiplap inside and out: Horizontal shiplap appears inside and outside in the 2016 class of winners and -is featured in entry ways, bathrooms, living rooms and more.

Under-stair storage: Architects and designers did not let under-stair spaces go to waste. Often, these spaces include shelves for books and works of art. One winner even included an entire bar under the living room stairs.

Unique wine storage: Wine storage is now a prominent feature in the home. Kitchens include floor-to-ceiling open or glass-enclosed wine storage, and customized wine racks appear in many of this year’s winners. Combining the under-stair-storage trend with this one, one team included an extensive wine collection under the stairs with glass doors and display lighting.

White on white: This trend is back in 2017, and appears universally across homes. Perhaps most prominently, white on white is showcased beautifully in kitchens.

More information about this year’s winners can be found at