Home Trend Watch: Upsized Homes on Downsized Lots

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR(R) Magazine

More Americans are showing preferences for bigger home once again, even if it means squeezing the home on a small lot, according to the first quarter Institute of Architects’ Home Design Trends Survey. The most recent survey focused on home layout and the use of interior and exterior spaces.

During the recession, more Americans showed a preference for smaller homes, setting off speculation that the downsizing trend could be a lasting one as more Americans searched for less upkeep and lower utility bills. But since 2010, the number of Americans showing a preference for larger homes has gradually been on the rise, architects report. Home volumes are increasing, with ceiling heights and two-story entryways making a comeback, according to the AIA survey.

Despite strained lot sizes, more Americans are wanting to invest in larger homes and in more outdoor amenities in trying to blend their indoor and outdoor spaces.

Kermit Baker, AIA chief economist, speculates that lot sizes haven’t increased along with the desire for larger homes because Americans are still looking for ways to keep homes affordable. The trend may also be a reflection of location preferences too (with home owners opting for smaller developments in more desirable locations).

“Because lot sizes don’t show any signs of increasing, it’s clear that home owners want to maximize their current square footage to its highest potential. … Smaller lots have not kept households from investing heavily in [outdoor] space,” Baker writes. “Creating outdoor living space — outdoor rooms, covered outdoor space, as well as more traditional decks, patios, and porches — continue to be the property enhancement growing the most in popularity.”

More households are looking to add space inside their homes too, with an increase this year in more home owners finishing attics and basements for added living space, the survey notes. More Americans are continuing to show a stronger demand for flexible layouts, with open space plans. Designs are gravitating toward more open space layouts, with partial wall divisions that allow more flexible use of space, Baker notes, as well as a trend for greater sense of informality in the home.

Melissa Tracey

Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, writing about home & design trends, technology, and sales and marketing. She manages the magazine's award-winning Styled, Staged & Sold blog.

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  1. I think this is a trend in bigger cities that are more expensive to live in. Downtown San Diego is a great example of this trend. The outdoor amenities are plentiful for everyone to use. Larger living space and indoor amenities are what people desire and are willing to pay for. Great article.

  2. Jeannie Spell

    Great article! Same in Baton Rouge, La

  3. Jim F

    I’ve seen this trend before. I live in an area of 2300-3000 sf homes mostly on 1/2 acre lots. I think a bigger, yet unseen trend may be multi-generational groups within these larger homes.

  4. great artilce.nice to read this kind of article. thanks for sharing this artilce with us.

  5. Interesting to hear about the upside homes!! Good blog!