In today’s real estate market, one house can be head-and-shoulders against comparable lists with a little interior design flair. As an agent, it is imperative to know what’s hot and what’s not, because hot sells.

Design can be a slippery slope. What is hot today can be a relic next week. We are witnessing a shift in the way people want to live inside their homes, with a focus on a living space that is less connected to the world outside the walls of the home.

Millennials and Gen-Xers are seeking flexibility, but they want to maintain a stylistic design.

Chanel Korby, director of business development at brokerage firm The Nassimi Group, explained that there is an appeal with clutter-resistant spaces.

“In the fast-paced world of New York, living in a tranquil environment with space-saving furnishings is refreshing and optimal,” she said. “There should be only essentials with minimalist clutter-free furniture, such as living rooms that only have a couch, another chair, a coffee table, a couple of lamps. Or even less — the bedroom may only have a simple bed, a dresser and a night stand. There is quality over quantity; the fewer pieces of furniture, the better.”

Sarah Fishburn, design & trend director for The Home Depot, said trends also are moving toward softer, tranquil, inviting and soothing colors, including various shades of blue. There also is less emphasis on high-contrast colors. Design also is concentrating on rooms that flow from one space to another. These trends are impacting all rooms. including the kitchen.

“Instead of having visual contrast, the design elements are becoming more tactile,” she said. “So you no longer need to have an all-white kitchen, but you can vary different textures within the same color profile.”

According to Fishburn, design also has eased up and is less rigid.

“When I was in design school, you learned architectural styles and lifestyle trends,” she told Multi-Housing News. “Once you were told you had a certain style, you stuck to it. It was regimented. But now, we have so many influences.”

The internet, including sites like Pinterest and television, which provide many sources of inspiration.

According to a survey of interior design experts conducted by Zillow, the hottest home designs of the next 12 months share a specific set of elements. One of the biggest design trends of the year is marble surfaces.

Fishburn added that Taupe, grey and white kitchens are still very popular.

Gray and white kitchen design with brick backsplash.

“What’s new is that more people are trying to create an open, clean, inviting palette that also withstands the turnover of residents,” she added. “We’re seeing more vinyl planks and waterproof laminate flooring, even in bathrooms.”

Improved products, including LED lighting and more durable flooring options, are also impacting design choices.

While there are some clear trends with interior design tastes today, many homeowners have less space to realize their visions, according to According to Mitchell Hochberg, the president and COO of the Lightstone Group. He told Real Estate Weekly that developers are building smaller homes to keep costs low.

“Due to the continuing increase in development costs, in an effort to make apartments more affordable, developers are making them smaller,” he said. “To meet the challenge of making these more efficient apartments more livable, developers are incorporating larger windows and higher ceilings, coupled with linear kitchens that are part of the traditional living area.”