A renewed interest in the DIY movement has sparked a number of trends in the hardware and home improvement arena. Thanks to websites like Pinterest, open-source maker communities, and DIY project and home improvement sites (like http://www.PlanItDIY.com), retail hardware categories have benefited from consumer desire to take a hands-on approach to home improvement and creative projects. Below are a few trends that are expected to see continued growth in 2016:
One of the top DIY trends arises out of the home automation category. Tech-savvy homeowners increasingly demand products to make their homes more secure, efficient and comfortable. While a few home automation products and systems are for professional installation, many of the newer products and systems on the market are plug-and-play, with little to no installation needed and simple-to-connect software applications that allow users to access home systems and appliances via their smartphones. Remotely locking or unlocking doors, turning on and off lights and adjusting the thermostat, along with many other features, gives homeowners the ability to customize their homes to fit their lifestyle as well as the control over utility usage, which can help save money. Two popular products include the Nest: The Learning Thermostat (www.nest.com) and the Kevo wireless Bluetooth Entry Lock (www.kwikset.com).
Smartphone applications aren’t just limited to home automation products either. There are applications that monitor several products, ranging from water bottles that track hydration, like the Thermos Connected Hydration Bottle with Smart Lid (www.thermos.com), to power tools that notify the user when batteries are running low or that disable the tool if it’s taken off of the jobsite, like the Tool Connect by DeWalt (www.toolconect.dewalt.com).
Industrial style decor was another popular trend in 2015 and is poised to remain so throughout 2016. There are many off-the-shelf decor products that are well-suited for DIY. For the creative types, there are galvanized or copper pipes and fittings, gears, reclaimed wood (or new wood stained to appear old), Edison bulbs, and other hardware that can be used to make a variety of decorative items. In addition to these items, other project supplies can be added on to achieve a finished look. See how one retailer used their entrance to highlight the possibilities of industrial decor in Hardware Retailing magazine. (http://www.hardwareretailingarchive.com/i/632241-feb-2016/42)
Back to the Land Movement
Conservation and reclamation, along with a modern back-to-the-land movement involving urban agriculture and small-scale hobby farms, sprang from the larger environmentalism and local-vore trends that have been gaining strength over the past decade. As more consumers are concerned about food sourcing, some are taking it further by installing gardens, raising small livestock in backyards and taking up canning to preserve their harvests. Retailers have multiple opportunities to increase sales in products such as fencing, fertilizers, garden and power tools, canning equipment, plants and seeds, and animal care items, even in urban areas. Several popular items in this category include Tenax Multi-purpose Fence and Net (www.tenaxus.com) and Cuisinart Pressure Canner (www.cuisinart.com).
Conservation and Reclamation
Many environmentally conscious consumers, as well as many who desire to save money on utilities, have driven sales in products geared toward conserving and reclaiming natural and limited resources. Low-flow water fixtures like Moen’s Eco-Performance faucets and showerheads (www.moen.com), dual-flush toilets and graywater systems, help to lower water usage for the interior of the house, while cisterns and rain barrels like Suncast Rain Barrels (www.suncast.com) collect water for irrigation purposes, alleviating strain on water systems while still allowing for irrigation of lawns and gardens.
Alternative Energy Solutions
Trends in resource and money-saving systems go beyond water to also include alternative energy solutions, such as solar shutters (www.plugnsaveenergyproducts.com), LED lighting, solar hot water heaters, and residential wind turbines like the Blade Tip Power System from Honeywell (www.honeywell.com). Most energy-saving products are easily installed and will instantly reduce energy costs and limit use of traditional resources.
Once summer hits, many homeowners prefer to slow down DIY projects in order to enjoy outdoor living, making spring the perfect time to complete backyard projects. The popularity of outdoor rooms have made fire pits, fireplaces, and pizza ovens must-have items for the backyard. Although building these items requires a certain level of skill, they are attainable for even DIY beginners, thanks to kits and step-by-step guidance provided by hardware retailers. Check out New England wholesaler Stone Farm (www.stonefarmliving.com) for great examples of what is possible and desirable in DIY fire pit, fireplace and pizza oven kits.
Cutting the Clutter
Spring cleaning may be more of an American tradition than a trend, but many homeowners today seek a minimalist or at least a show-quality look for their homes. Retailers can help by providing creative options to help de-clutter countertop and storage areas. Most organizational projects like cabinet or closet systems are easy for DIYers to tackle. Some of the best storage and organizational products do double-duty—think canvas bags or decorative baskets or tubs that can be used for storage in bathrooms, kitchens, garages and toy rooms, but that are also easily transportable for a quick trip to the beach or library. Check out this gallery of creative ways to eliminate clutter. http://www.redbookmag.com/home/g2530/magic-multi-taskers/?slide=1
Much like the back-to-the-land movement, Millennials have driven a return to the DIY and handmade movement. Many hardware categories reflect this trend, but none more so than paint. Specialty paints like chalk paint, milk paint, chalkboard paint and unique stains continue to appeal to crafty customers, as well as projects like wall and rug stenciling. A quick search of Pinterest reveals an abundance of ideas for specialty paint and stencil projects.
While craft projects for paint are varied and unique, paint color trends for 2016 highlight a return to the basics, with shades of white and gray dominating the category. Check out This Old House (http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20972022,00.html) for this year’s hottest colors, according to the big-name paint companies.