Once upon a time, homeowners covered up hardwood floors with carpeting, scoffed at the notion of a three-car garage, and paid little attention to a home’s energy-efficient attributes. As the years passed, however, hardwood flooring gained favor, homeowners clamored for extra garage space, and energy efficiency became engrained in the American consciousness.
While home trends regularly come and go, some elements have firmly established themselves as mainstays. Award-winning homebuilder Gallagher and Henry, meanwhile, has responded by incorporating such elements into its homes as standard features, confident that these one-time trends hold lasting power.
Here to Stay: Energy Efficiency
These days, energy efficiency is table stakes. Surrounded by energy-efficient, environmentally friendly messaging across the consumer landscape, from automobiles to appliances to hospitality, homebuyers expect energy-efficient characteristics in their home. In fact, 89 percent of buyers want an energy-efficient home, according to a survey from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). That includes features such as ENERGY STAR-rated windows and appliances, efficient lighting, high R-value insulation, and tight construction practices.
All newly built Gallagher and Henry homes carry the ENERGY STAR label. Independently tested by a third-party Home Energy Rater, ENERGY STAR-qualified homes meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s stringent guidelines for energy efficiency, which reduces a home’s utility costs, ensures a more comfortable home, and contributes to a healthier environment.
Here to Stay: Hardwood Floors
A generation ago, carpet was the norm in many Chicago area homes. While hardwood flooring gained traction in the early 2000s, it is now the prevailing underfoot choice with 83 percent of homebuyers wanting hardwood flooring, according to NAR data. Though certain colors, plank sizes, or species of wood flow in and out of style, hardwood is expected to maintain its popularity for the long haul. In addition to being more durable than carpeting and better for those with allergies, hardwood offers a cleaner, more textured look and can rather easily exist within any decorating style, from modern to farmhouse chic.
In its six Lifestyle Series home plans, Gallagher and Henry supplies 2-1/4 inch hardwood as a standard feature in the home’s foyer, main hallway, kitchen, dinette, and mudroom. All floors are sanded and varnished on site in the color of the homebuyers’ choice.
Here to Stay: Brick Construction
Despite rampant innovation in exterior materials like vinyl siding, brick continues to be the preferred exterior material for homes – and particularly so in the Chicago area market that birthed the brick bungalow. Brick speaks to sturdiness, quality, and durability as well as authenticity, environmentalism, and aesthetics. In addition, brick is low maintenance and offers cost-saving energy efficiency.
In 1954, Gallagher and Henry used brick to construct its first homes near Chicago’s Midway Airport. Today, the company continues favoring brick construction. All new Gallagher and Henry-built homes feature brick on all four sides of the home’s first-floor exterior.
Here to Stay: Kitchen Islands
Kitchen islands were first introduced into residential construction in the 1970s and gained popularity in subsequent decades. A place for residents or guests to congregate, kitchen islands also provided extra counter space for meal prep and added extra cabinetry to a kitchen as well. In more recent times, islands have become bigger while more daring design choices with cabinets or countertops have elevated the island as a kitchen focal point.
Gallagher and Henry has heeded the call for kitchen islands, as its five most recent Lifestyle Series home plans – the Briarcliffe, Calysta, Danbury, Eden, and Fremont – all host kitchen islands for added work, storage, and congregation space. In fact, Gallagher and Henry doubled down on kitchen islands – quite literally – in its new Fremont ranch plan that features two kitchen islands, including one with a sink and dishwasher.
Here to Stay: Walk-In Pantries
In a recent report from the National Association of Home Builders, buyers identified a walk-in pantry as their most coveted kitchen feature. And for good reason. As the kitchen and its cabinets can quickly become crowded with pots and pans, cereal boxes, kitchen gadgets, food storage containers, glassware, and the like, a walk-in pantry provides extra – and convenient – storage space.
In a number of its Lifestyle Series home plans, including the Amberwood and Fremont ranch plans as well as the Briarcliffe two-story, Gallagher and Henry has dedicated space to walk-in pantries.
Here to Stay: Front Porches
As far back as the Victorian homes that peppered historic American towns, front porches have enjoyed a prominent spot on the nation’s real estate scene. Interest in front porches, however, has accelerated over the last decade. Data from the New Home Source Insights Panel shows a steady uptick in front porches since 2005 and finds that nearly half of new homebuyers are willing to pay extra for the covered outdoor space. The novel coronavirus pandemic, meanwhile, has only intensified homebuyers’ desire for outdoor spaces, particularly in the front of the home where residents can interact with neighbors and cultivate a deeper sense of community.
Noting both the community-driving aspect of front porches as well as their architectural appeal, Gallagher and Henry has introduced home plans that include front porches. Both the Briarcliffe and Calysta, a pair of two-story home plans from Gallagher and Henry’s Lifestyle Series, feature rather spacious front porches for relaxation and gathering.
Here to Stay: Three-Car Garages
Once seen as a luxury, three-car garages have gained heightened importance among homeowners, especially two-car (or more) households. An additional bay provides indoor parking for a third car, while the added space can also be used to create accessible storage for bikes, lawn equipment, patio chairs, holiday decorations, sports equipment, and more.
When Gallagher and Henry surveyed homebuyers in 2010 to inform the development of its Lifestyle Series of home plans, respondents overwhelmingly identified three-car garages as a highly desired feature. Gallagher and Henry then responded by installing three-car garages as standard features in all Lifestyle Series home plans.
Here to Stay: Basements
Basements have long been a part of Chicago area homes, though their reputation as dark, damp, and enclosed spaces was well earned. And yet, basements offered additional and flexible space that could accommodate fitness equipment or children’s toys and be used for entertainment, storage, or hobbies. Homeowners continue expressing interest in basements as comfortable blank-canvas spaces for their specific household’s needs.
Bolstered by construction technology and civic projects, including overhead sewers, the basements of today’s Gallagher and Henry homes are a distant cry from those of yesteryear. With higher ceilings and more natural light, the full basements present in all of Gallagher and Henry’s Lifestyle Series home plans provide homeowners added living space to address any of their needs or wishes.