With a weak dollar curtailing travel abroad and pricey gasoline curbing our stateside road trips, 2008 just may turn out to be the year we stay put happily – updating our homes with cutting-edge gadgetry, enjoying backyard retreats and indulging in eco-friendly decorating. At least that’s how Ann Mack, director of trendspotting at ad agency JWT, sees it. She thinks we’ll be indulging in “staycations” this year, seeking solace in our own beautified backyards. Here’s what Mack has to say about the top trends she sees for our homes in the coming year.

1. Living large in the yard. Expect backyards to become an even greater extension of our living space, another area to flex our decorating muscles. But because we’ll be traveling less, we’ll also want our outdoor space to function, Mack says, as “a home away from home, a tropical oasis with exotic gardens and interesting-shaped pools.” And as entertaining continues to move outdoors, expect outdoor kitchens to rival their indoor counterparts with “more investments in big-time grills.”

2. Eco-chic turns eco-thrifty. Homeowners will continue to adopt green strategies to save money, as energy prices remain high, Mack says. It also will become a practical matter, as creating an eco-chic home will have an enhanced value. Look for more banks to offer special mortgages and financing for homeowners doing green renovations, and more recycled and recyclable materials being used in construction and rehabbing.

3. The local option. Backyards may be getting more exotic, but they’re also getting more homespun. As more people become concerned about the cost and quality of their produce, backyard vegetable gardens will flourish. Mack says this is part of the eating-local movement, “as local as you can get.” For city dwellers, community gardens will increase in popularity.

4. High-tech hideaways. As gadgets, tech gear and appliances threaten to overtake our homes, furniture designers will come to our rescue. Expect to see functional furnishings that embrace electronics, Mack says. From nightstands to coffee tables, new designs will focus on reducing cable clutter and increasing storage, and will include built-in power strips.

5. Clutter cutters. In the new year, organization will continue to be a priority. And as the amount of gadgetry we’ve amassed grows, so does our desire to end the electronic chaos. Enter the e-clutter consultant. People will hire these consultants, Mack says, “to help them organize their tech assets, to consolidate their electronics into one platform … to unclutter the e-clutter.”

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