In the ever-changing real estate industry, it's easy to get overwhelmed with what to do, what not to do and what's new. Whether you're an agent, homeowner, buyer or seller, or just interested in the industry, staying up to date with these new fads is a good idea.

In the ever-changing real estate industry, it's easy to get overwhelmed with what to do, what not to do and what's new. Whether you're an agent, homeowner, buyer or seller, or just interested in the industry, staying up to date with these new fads is a good idea.

With that in mind, here's what's in this year.

Today, the kitchen is the hub of the home, and homeowners and buyers want a versatile, upscale kitchen. A large island and sitting area that can serve as a cooking station and entertaining area are in high demand. Slab surfaces, such as granite, stone, concrete, limestone, soapstone and marble, are popular choices for island countertops.

Appliances are always a hot topic and will continue to be. Stainless steel and white appliances are still in, but black fixtures are becoming increasingly outdated. Appliances are also becoming more technologically advanced. Systems are now available that will allow you to program your stove and other appliances to be ready when you want to use them.

Garages -- whether built-in or stand-alone -- are also a hot topic. Buyers want a lot of cabinets and storage space, residential flooring, and a refrigerator. Hidden garages, which were prevalent in the traditional American home, are starting to reemerge, and in the near future, underground garages may become popular. These garages give residents more room for backyard pools, recreation areas and green space.

Another trend among builders today is replicating the traditional American home and neighborhood. Traditional Neighborhood Designs (TND) is a new design concept set out to recreate the small town feeling with friendly neighborhood settings. The TND integrates different housing types, front porches, flower boxes, white-picket fences, hidden garages and pedestrian-friendly sidewalks and streets. The designs are also focused on creating jobs, and city establishments such as post offices, schools, shops and day-care centers all within walking distance of the neighborhood.

When it comes to furnishings, we should see a lot of bold colors as we move into 2010. Rich oranges, yellows, pinks and pairings of white with hints of neon will be popular as many look back to the '80s for inspiration. Neutrals may not be quite as popular, but you will still see some rustic browns and other earthy tones -- especially in furniture.

Look for metallic accent pieces, reflective décor, and eco-friendly materials to pull a whole room together. The nice thing about interior design is that, unlike the fashion industry, home design trends tend to stick around for a few years. So don't worry about updating your home every year. Save some money and make adjustments every few years.

For more information on current and upcoming home trends, contact your local real estate agent today. They should be able to give you home staging and interior design tips that will keep your home up-to-date in case you choose to put it on the market.

Harley E. Rouda Jr. is the CEO of Real Living HER, the No. 1 real estate firm in central Ohio.

Harley E.

Rouda Jr.