Prefab Renaissance

“If we project a continuation of current trends, then we can assume that off-site construction (prefabrication) will grow in popularity throughout 2017,” begins Oliver Grimshaw of package build specialist Hanse Haus.

Prefabrication is shaking off its reputation of old and emerging as a solid choice for the self builder.

“Off-site construction hit the headlines late in 2016 as the government outlined measures to boost the sector,” adds Oliver Grimshaw.

“We believe that growth has so far been fast simply because it is a logical way to build, maximising on speed, quality and cost, and it appears ministers have now officially wised up to this.”


The Hygge Trend will Continue

Hygge – the Danish ethos of wellbeing – was a word that dominated the British interior design world in winter 2016. It’s easy to dismiss with other passing trends, but the principle of hygge has longevity.

The hygge approach seeks to introduce warmth and personality to interiors — the use of natural materials, layers and textures being key. Ultimately, it has an application in transforming a new build or renovation into a cosy, welcoming home.

Be inspired by our selection of cosy Scandinavian-style interiors


Here, the freestanding Woodwarm Wildwood Stove completes the cosy scene

Sourcing Materials Locally is Becoming More Popular

Buying British – and more specifically sourcing local products and labour – is becoming more important, as we become increasingly aware of our carbon footprint and the need to invest in our local communities.

A further trend related to this is our appreciation for craftsmanship and quality. “The growing trends for handmade, native products, made from natural and sustainable materials relates not only to the structure of the house but to the internal fit out and beyond,” adds Merry Albright of Border Oak. “Craftsmanship delivers character, texture and a uniqueness that will subtly transform a ‘house’ into a home.

“Artisans are producing a broad range of modern products, too — handmade concrete sinks, forged-steel storage, innovative fitted kitchens, bespoke light fittings, even British-made taps and handmade eco ovens such as the Everhot.
“There is often (not always) a slight price premium, but when you consider quality, longevity, function and beauty they represent exceptional value for money.”

Semi-Open Plan Spaces Will be Popular in our Homes

Entirely open plan spaces come with their own set of challenges: noise, lingering cooking smells, the inability to (quite literally) shut the door on the washing up. What has instead evolved is semi-open plan ‘connected’ spaces, which flow from one to the other, but also retain an element of separation.

“We are encouraging customers to lean towards ‘semi-open plan’ where the main living spaces are merging into super spaces with multiple personalities (living/dining/kitchen or hallway/dining/study),” says Merry Albright of Border Oak.

“These spaces are high impact and hard-working, providing that much sought-after sense of space and light. But for these super rooms to work and look good, we are creating smaller functional spaces – utilities, boot rooms, playrooms, pantries and so on – where practicality takes priority.

“There are some tricks with semi-open plan living:

  • consider zoning the big space with architectural features for definition and interest;
  • explore ways of creating a sense of journey through the layout;
  • and keep a long line of sight but retain an element of interest with an unexpected or quirky feature for interest.
  • Oh — and a lot of fitted cupboards!” concludes Merry.

In this extension and remodelling scheme, designed by Granit Architects, a large opening between the newly added kitchen diner and home office/snug connects these spaces

More Plots will be Made Available

This will be a big year for self build — following the introduction of the Right to Build Act in 2016. The Act, which came into force last October, means that local authorities in England have a legal duty to make sufficient serviced plots available to meet the demand on their Right to Build register.

“Overall, the future for anyone who wants to create an individual home is looking more positive than ever, largely because those who govern us are at last beginning to recognise that the best people to decide how and where homes are going to be built, and how they should be designed, are those who are going to live in them,” says Michael Holmes, chair of the National Custom & Self Build Association.

You can sign up to your local register via


Next-Generation Storage

“Storage solutions are developing at a rapid pace. Accessibility is the key so the new easy-access storage ideas are incredibly popular,” begins Kitchens International designer Simon Holland.

“Going out are large pull-out larders as they can be heavy and take up too much space. Pocket doors that hide appliances, such as washing machines and dryers, and then slip back into the side of the cabinet are one of the big trends.”


Pocket doors hide away a cupboard complete with appliances, sink and lighting.
From Kitchens International (KI)

Virtual Reality Could Transform Home Design

Virtual reality (VR) – which replaces the real world with an entirely virtual one – will increasingly see more serious applications in homebuilding in the coming years.

“With VR technology now being adopted by an increasing number of architects and designers, self-builders can put on a VR headset and instantly be immersed in a ‘finished’ version of their future home,” begins Robert Kendal, CEO of Yulio Technologies.

“Creating perfect living environments takes an enormous amount of time and energy, and therefore being able to use technology to experience an environment before it’s been built and any cost has been incurred, offers an incredible opportunity to ensure every element, from room dimensions to styling and specified materials, work together when constructed.”

The Return of the Belgian Door

While frameless glass remains popular, homeowners are turning their attention to more traditional styles, too, and in particular, the timeless Belgian door. The refined glazing bars are well-suited to extensions to period homes, and internal doors.

Providing a slightly different twist on the Belgian door, these aluminium bifold doors from Hedgehog Aluminium Systems feature glazing bars which emulate the look of a traditional steel door.


What’s more, in this project, a dog flap was integrated to allow the family pet easy access to the garden!

Contextualism — the Next Big Architectural Trend?

In basic terms, contextualism is about designing a home that is ‘of its place’, rooted in its locality through a considered, with architectural cues drawn from the location, the physical characteristics of the site, and the history and vernacular of the area.

In essence, it’s not only about creating an aesthetically pleasing home that nestles within its site, but a considered design that meets the approval of local planners.
The winner of the Daily Telegraph Homebuilding & Renovating Awards 2016 embodied the spirit of contextualism (below). The exterior cladding tie this new build so strongly into its surroundings — it couldn’t belong anywhere but on this site.


This self-build, which replaced a dated mid 20th-century bungalow, was designed by ABIR Architects for its site. The gabion walls emulate the pebbled beach, and the glass reflects the sea views

Kitchens with Personality

The days of ‘identikit’ kitchens are coming to an end — we’re increasingly looking to inject personality into that all-important room.

“The latest cabinetry trend in modern kitchens embraces a mix and match approach, creating a personal and tailored feel,” begins Graeme Smith, senior designer at BioGraphy Kitchens.

“There’s also trends towards combining different styles and finishes within a design. For instance, by introducing a completely contrasting material, such as a character oak mixed with a painted finish, you can add texture and warmth.”


This BioGraphy kitchen features Style 1, and incorporates a mix of matt white handleless and character oak cabinetry, with sinuous granite and white quartz worktops. BioGraphy kitchens are priced from £10,000

Voice Control will be Big News in Home Technology

“We see 2017 being the year of voice control,” says Matt Nimmons, managing director of CEDIA EMEA. “Even though we’ve had Siri and Cortana for some time, Amazon has changed everything with the Amazon Echo.

“Voice control adds an efficient and complementary capability to existing primary control options in the home, which adds real value. For example, voice control of lighting can be a major asset to homeowners to enhance safety, security and convenience.

“Josh AI is another brand making huge advances in the voice control arena,” concludes Matt.

The Rise of the Home Office

Working from home is becoming an option for some — and a necessity for many. A dedicated home office space is making its way on to the design brief of many a self-builder and home improver. This may be an entire room set aside for the task. An increasingly popular trend is a garden office/outbuilding — allowing you to quite literally walk to work.

For those short on space, there are alternatives. “One of the key trends for 2017 is dual-functioning rooms. If you are looking for innovative ways to save space, incorporating home offices or hobby areas into lounges or guest bedrooms can help establish clearly defined zones,” says Rachal Hutcheson, home office design expert at Sharps.

The key to the success of any home office is careful planning at an early stage, including:

  • Make provisions for ethernet points (a wired internet connection being much more reliable than WiFi) and plan in a good number of sockets.
  • A good lighting scheme and access to natural light is key.
  • Zoned heating will allow this area of the house to be heated separately, without the need to heat other unused rooms.

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