Fall is all about showing off your style — and not just the kind hanging in your closet. In the home, a new set of design trends is taking over — influencing both buyers and homeowners — and this season, it’s all about the finishes.

“When you walk into a home, it’s just walls and a door until the finishes are in place,” says Redfin agent Mary Helen Cutler  Indeed, homeowners are looking for a full package, from basics like stainless steel appliances or upgraded bathrooms, to functional spaces like mudrooms. “If two homes were absolutely equal in every way [otherwise], buyers would buy the one with the mudroom,” says Cutler.

By the same token, there are some outdated styles buyers may not be able to ignore, such as bad wallpaper. “People immediately think about how much work it is to remove,” says Cutler. Even poor paint colors — though easy to change — can negatively influence potential buyers. “It’s hard for people to see beyond it,” says Cutler.

Whether you’re looking to make an upgrade or about to list your home, pay attention to the trends buyers are looking for. This season, color is king.

“From a paint perspective, we’re seeing a lot of high gloss on walls,” says designer Susan Brunstrum of Sweet Peas Design (507 E. Park, Libertyville, Brunstrum has noticed an increased interest in using rich, bold colors as accents in dining, powder and family rooms. “We typically accent with a similar color to what’s on the other wall, maybe a bit darker,” Brunstrum says.

People are getting more creative with trim colors, moving away from whites and creams to charcoal, navy or black, Brunstrum says, adding that the once-trending look of natural oak has come and gone. “It’s a fresher look to paint your trim.”

When it comes to flooring, too, homeowners are veering away from natural oak, opting for richer espresso and chocolate hues or embracing the gray, restored hardwoods — “kind of like driftwood,” explains Brunstrum.

In the kitchen, though, people are opting for timeless and traditional whites. “It’s like a good, basic black dress,” Brunstrum says. “And you can still personalize [the space] with tile, lighting and cabinet hardware.” For example, one trending finish is quartzite in kitchen and bathroom countertops. “It has the same properties as granite — meaning you can set something hot or cold on it — and in some cases it’s even harder,” Brunstrum explains, noting that she loves the material because of its depth. “When you look at it, there are portions you can kind of see through.” Granite has long been the go-to, but this new option opens new possibilities.

Check out these four Chicago area homes that demonstrate the best of fall’s interior trends.




Curved walls and opaque glass paneling are repeated throughout this custom home, creating a seamless aesthetic. It’s contemporary and timeless: “A lot of thought went into what should remain and what could be brought up to the look we’re appreciating in this decade,” says realtor Candy Carter Hyman 

On the exterior, the gutters and downspouts are hidden, connected to a complex, barrel-shaped drainage system in the yard that draws air from one end of the space to the other. “It’s an engineering marvel,” says Hyman.

Inside, the three-level home has a beautiful layout, shaped like a small letter “t.” Some of the most stunning rooms are an elegant, sun-drenched library with two stories of shelving and a bright dining room with an on-trend accent wall.

The six-bed, 5.2-bath home can also accommodate — and entertain — a large crowd effortlessly. There’s a sound system throughout and beautiful French doors that open onto gorgeous gardens. “It’s a marvelous home for entertaining, it’s also a marvelous home to raise a family,” says Hyman.

The master suite has a bonus third-floor space, currently being used as an office. “You feel like you’re in the trees, because everything you see is leaves and sky,” says Hyman. The four-car garage contains three bays to the side and another spot to store a collector car, accessed by a blue slate gravel driveway.




This gorgeous new construction is situated at the end of a cul-de-sac on a private lane and “it’s just finished — the paint isn’t even dry,” says realtor Jeannie Kurtzhalts.

Clocking in at 5,800 square feet of finished living space, the home was designed with all the latest trends in mind — rich hardwood floors, beautiful woodwork and a finished lower level.

The kitchen is a huge selling point, with white cabinetry, stainless appliances and quartzite countertops. “I’m seeing a huge change in buyers liking quartz [even though] it can be more expensive than granite and marble,” Kurtzhalts says. The light fixtures and hardware are oil rubbed in a dark bronze that blends with the stainless fixtures. Shades of gray paint are a perfect contrast to the woodwork and the cabinetry.

The home has a total of six bedrooms, 5.1 bathrooms, a mudroom off the garage and a wine cellar with built-in thermostat.



One trend that will never go out of style: location. Situated steps from Ravinia in East Highland Park, “this home is a complete balance of contemporary and traditional,” says realtor Linda Schwartz.

Its layout is perfectly configured for entertaining and boasts a chef’s kitchen with top-of-the-line appliances and an adjacent family room two steps below. “You don’t see the dirty dishes, and the flow for entertaining is perfect,” says Schwartz. “This is a genuine family house, with space that’s well used, from closet design to the phenomenal layout.

There are five bedrooms upstairs, including a spacious master with eastern and western exposure. “It’s incredibly bright and unique, with separate his-and-her baths and walk-in closets,” says Schwartz. There’s a sixth bedroom in the basement, and another 1.1 baths.



Combining new-world style with vintage allure, Scott Javore preserved and renovated this Glencoe home, adhering to its original 1903 charm — an artist from the Art Institute of Chicago even retouched mural work on the second floor. “The seller brought it up to today’s standards by reworking the floor plan and adding an elevator, but didn’t really change the exterior,” says realtor Maureen Mohling.

The six-bedroom, 6.1-bathroom home is chock full of amenities — a finished lower level, wine cellar, three-car attached garage and even a third-floor ballroom — and on-trend with dark wood floors and stand-out ceiling beams. There’s a wraparound patio on the first floor from the solarium, kitchen office and dining room. “They thought of everything to make it easy to live in,” says Mohling.

The master suite offers views of the lake, his-and-her walk-in closets, a bathroom with shower and soaking tub, plus dual vanities. The bathrooms have all been updated, and have a contiguous feel with herringbone tile flooring. “They’re compatible with the vintage [feel] of the house,” says Mohling.


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