One trend in 2020 is kitchens with cabinetry along the perimeter in one color and an island cabinetry in a different color. The same goes for counter tops. Lacey Toney/Provided

As a new decade begins, home builders and designers are seeing new trends pop up, including a stray from crisp whites to more moody tones, but others remain strong. 

Patrick Arnold, executive director of the Charleston Home Builders Association, said homeowners in the high-end market are looking for "something different," like courtyards and amenities that will stand out. In the lower-end market, there's a push for affordable housing for those making between $40,000 and $60,000 salary bracket. 

Design trends for affordable housing include smaller square-foot townhomes (ranging up to 900 square feet), he said.

Chris Brace, owner of Goose Creek-based Brace Builders, said the size of homes is driving the market right now: Baby boomers are looking for smaller and "better thought out" spaces, like a master bedroom on the first floor, home offices and indoor/outdoor living spaces. 

Brace Builders has been around about 10 years. Brace said his company has worked on whole house renovations and custom new construction in downtown Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Isle of Palms and Sullivan's Island.

Exterior home materials remain the same with clients still wanting fiber cement siding, but they want to have it applied vertically for a more modern look. 


Exposed beams remain a trend for homeowners and builders. Lacey Toney/Provided

Exposed beams are still a strong piece in homes and preferred ceiling heights haven't changed — a dramatic first floor with a standard 8-foot height ceiling on second floors. 

Homeowners are looking for energy efficient savings, too, with a new fluid-applied membrane to stop water, drafty air, pollen and dust on the outside from getting into the home. The most common product now is Tyvek, but Brace said the new material, though a little more expensive, creates a "tighter house."

Homeowners now are more internet savvy and turn to social media, like Instagram and houzz.com, to learn about trends. That means construction companies do, too. 

"There's so many great designers and contractors out there, not only locally but nationally, that are setting the bar in construction, and it's pretty easy to find on those two platforms," Brace said. 


"Moody" statement pieces are popping up, according to local designer Lauren Mendenhall. Lacey Toney/Provided

Inside the home, one trend Brace has noticed is demand for textured statement walls along stair landings or a different material used in stairwell ceilings. Instead of a splash of color, homeowners are interested in fabrics or geometric-shaped wood paneling.  

"Shiplap has been a trend and will continue to be a trend, but we're seeing clients request geometric designs with trim on the wall and on the ceiling, with wood," Brace said. 

Brace said homeowners are looking to use different types of finishes for plumbing and lighting fixtures, additionally different colors for cabinetry. For cabinetry, the trend of different finishes and colors continues: New homeowners are looking for perimeter cabinets and countertops in one color and island cabinetry and countertops in another. Quartz countertop remains in demand.


Owner and principal designer of Charleston-based AMEN Design Company Lauren Mendenhall said people are looking for larger planked flooring and that cherry is making a comeback. Lacey Toney/Provided

Luxury vinyl flooring is "super popular" and anything wide-planked, Brace said.

"It's been around a while, but we're seeing more and more clients choose that," Brace said.

Owner and principal designer of Charleston-based AMEN Design Company, Lauren Mendenhall, said she's been in business a little over 10 years. She's done work in Charleston and along the East Coast. Her company specializes in a mix of modern, antique, soulful and modern homes. 

"Colorwise, a big trend is yellow," Mendenhall said. "Anything from marigold to canary to a gold mustard color. That's really been the most notable trend is the use of yellow in pops or more bold approaches."

Mendnehall said she is also seeing a trend toward darker upholstery and cabinetry.

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One trend popping up in 2020 home design is a moody approach to furniture, deeper colored cabinetry and countertops. Lacey Toney/Provided

"We're seeing more of a trend to moody kinds of tones like darker, bolder colors with wall paints and even in kitchens with more permanent fixtures," Mendenhall said.  

Flooring is trending toward lighter colors and a resurgence of cherry. 

"We haven't seen that in a while, it's making a comeback — that more classic look," Mendenhall said. "There's a trend more toward the authentic and it comes along with materials being more available."

Mendenhall echoed Brace's observation of an increase in alternative materials for statement walls, like fabric, but also a trend toward natural-textured materials like brick and wood.


One new home trend designers are seeing is a shift from polished fixtures to unlacquered brass. Lacey Toney/Provided

For fixtures, Mendenhall said she is not seeing as much of the "glitzy gold" that had made a comeback recently, but more of a trend toward un-lacquered brass, copper with a patina pattern and black and dark brown metals. 

For furniture, darker upholstery like black and deep blue linen is popular, but so is velvet and a "cozy" material similar to wool called sheerling.

"The 'it' thing was a white sofa, but I think people are kind of taking that feel and moving toward something a little bit deeper in color," Mendenhall said. 

Reach Mikaela Porter at 843-937-5906. Follow her on Twitter @mikaelaporterPC. 

Mikaela Porter joined The Post and Courier in April 2019 and writes about the city of Charleston. Previously, Mikaela reported on breaking news, local government, school issues and community happenings for The Hartford Courant in Hartford, Conn.