Trending home designs

by Dan Krell
© 2012

Trending home designs

You might be amazed if you stopped to think about how much the home has changed over the years. From modest beginnings, when most homes were one or two rooms, the home has transformed from the humble shelter to today’s technological marvel that expresses your personality and popular tastes.

Early home architectural designs were very practical, and may have changed along with heating/cooling innovations. Before the furnace was a standard feature in the home, most homes were built around the fireplace; in very early homes, a central fireplace was where the homeowners cooked their food. Further advances in home design occurred as new building materials were developed; the use of drywall may be responsible for the spread of “tract housing” in the 1940’s and 50’s, as home builders realized they could make homes faster and more affordable.

However, a driving factor in today’s home designs is popularity with home buyers (because that’s what sells of course). The American Institute of Architects ( conducts the quarterly Home Design Trends Survey to track architectural trends and reveal what home buyers want in their homes. Besides the fact that a wounded housing market reduced the demand for the McMansion, what else is trending?

Economy and energy efficiency design features and appliances have been trending since the financial crisis. Since 2007, there has been a significant increase in demand for high efficiency furnaces, tankless water heaters, and more insulation.

Highlights of the recent Home Design Trends Survey (2nd quarter 2011) reveal how the economy has impacted home design. Most “Special feature rooms” have declined in popularity; except for home offices where people can telecommute, there was a significant decrease in the demand for interior greenhouses, media rooms, interior kennels, safe rooms, kid’s wings, and exercise rooms (demand for au-pair suites has remained steady). Informal living features continue to trend as people are increasingly staying home to entertain themselves and friends; a demand for “home-centered activities” spaces and outdoor living spaces are increasing. Requests for indoor-outdoor transition rooms, such as mudrooms, remain strong.

Special features continue to focus on energy efficiency, as well as increasingly on accessibility. Insulation seems to be a major home buyer focus as extra insulation or the use of alternative insulation techniques are in high demand.

As visitability laws gain momentum nationwide, home accessibility design features have increased in demand. First floor owner suites, height adjusted fixtures (sinks faucets and light switches), ramps, and even elevators have increased in popularity among home buyers.

Technological advances also dictate home buyer preferences. New energy efficient devices continue in popularity as well as low-maintenance products. High performance windows were a top requested item, as were water saving devices. Home buyers are also demanding more low maintenance engineered materials in their homes; such as floors, siding, and decking.
As technology changes, home design is anticipated to change as well. For example, some foresee that the demand for the home office to diminish as wireless communication technologies advance such that people won’t anchor themselves to one room as they work from home.

If you think that trending home design features are only for new homes, think again. Popular design features often filter into older homes as home owners renovate. As a design feature’s popularity increases, so does the chance it can be found at the Home Depot.

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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of February 6, 2012. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2012 Dan Krell.

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