7 hot home improvement trends for 2012

Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | November 16, 2012

Ready to shake off the winter doldrums and give your home a spring makeover? These hot trends for 2012 can brighten your spirits, give your house new life and even translate into market advantage if you decide to sell.

1. Hype up the outside. Demand continues for outdoor amenities, perhaps thanks to the economy and more people staying close to home. Expanded seating and dining areas, nice grills, better lighting, and elaborate fire pits or fireplaces are all the rage.

2. Make the inside smarter. There was big buzz at the 2012 NAHB International Builders' Show on home technology. Controlling light, temperature, music, appliances and more with the touch of a button -- or by sweeping your finger over a touchscreen -- is hot right now.

3. Go with bare flooring. Carpets are out and bare flooring is definitely in. Laminate, hardwood or tile are popular, as are eco-friendly options like cork and recycled flooring materials.

4. Simplify your surroundings. As more homeowners choose to stay put, thoughts turn to making the current home more enjoyable. That includes serious organization upgrades, such as built-in closet shelving and kitchen cabinet overhauls.

5. Going green. Being friendly to the environment is still a top priority with homeowners, who are opting for energy-efficient upgrades. From LED light bulbs to geothermal units, going green is still the thing.

6. Take the luxury suite. As the population ages, more people want to grow old in their own homes. In 2010, the National Association of Home Builders reported that 62 percent of contractors were working on a home modification for aging. Entry-level bedrooms and accessible kitchens are tops on the trend list.

7. Color that pops. Making the home more visually appealing is a priority, and that has led to a surge in creative colors. Yellows, blues and greens are popular, as are darker colors to add dramatic accents to a room.

These home improvement trends offer something for everyone, whether you're sprucing up for a sale or settling in for the long run.

About the Author

Shannon Dauphin is a journalist and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. Her current home was built in 1901, so home repair and renovation have become her necessary hobbies.