In June, the Gold Nugget Awards – the nations largest and most prestigious awards in the areas of design, planning and development – held its 52nd annual gala bash in San Diego, California. Builders, Architects and Land Planners from around the globe were recognized for their exceptional concepts, unique visions and flawless execution of design and development.

The folks that comprise the recognizing body of the Gold Nugget awards emphasize not only aesthetic talent and technical skill, but place high value on the ways in which these home and land designs positively impact our environment, our communities and ourselves.

This year, the awards within the U.S. leaned heavily toward the overall themes of efficiency, sustainability, ambiance and understated elegance. While our European counterparts favored opulence, the U.S. – especially in the west – was feeling a little more zen. With trends that bring outdoor spaces – and the transitional space between indoor and outdoor – into the forefront, it is clear that many Americans are embracing (arguably craving) the natural world like never before. Repurposed materials are becoming commonplace and energy efficiency and sustainability, almost a market mandate.

According to – Gold Nugget’s chief sponsor – the prominent trends of 2015 are:

• Integrated, open designs, unexpected materials, sophisticated lighting and striking, thoughtful details.

• Emphasizing and formalizing outdoor space while minimizing indoor space. Seamless, innovative transition areas like collapsible, floor-to-ceiling doors were the types of “space shifting” designs that were given great praise.

• Along a more practical vein, the trend of creating multi-functional spaces was recognized as a forward-thinking approach to not only solving a space crunch, but to help move folks away from designating spaces in the home that go largely unused. Outfitting a formal dining room to double as a home office solves the problem of working at the kitchen table or in the basement, but also puts to use a space that is perhaps only inhabited three or four times per year.

• Minimalism: Clean lines and single focal points within rooms (a bathtub, for example) were the indoor trends that caught the attention of the judges.

• Sustainability. It appears these days that no matter how innovative or captivating a home or land design may be, it is considered clumsy and irresponsible if not executed in an earth-friendly, efficient and sustainable way. That’s very good news for the environment, but also good news for the homeowner. Soon will be gone, the days of energy-gouging appliances, inefficient heating/cooling systems and slipshod construction.

A wonderful slideshow of the winners is up for viewing on and a list of all the winners in all categories (single/multi-family, custom, mixed-use and commercial), can be found directly on the .

Credit: Diana Cammarota