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Home Trend Watch: Welcome Back the ‘Specialty Room’

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR(R) Magazine

Photo credit: Lena A. Pereira with Westside Staging Solutions

As economic conditions improve, “special function” rooms within homes are seeing a resurgence, according to findings from the American Institute of Architects’ Home Design Trends Survey for the second quarter.

“As home sizes shrank during the housing downturn, special function rooms were particularly hard hit,” says AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. “Many households view special function rooms as discretionary, and therefore easier to eliminate as homes were downsized. Now that average home sizes are growing again, interest in special function rooms is beginning to reemerge.”

The special function rooms most in demand lately are outdoor living areas, mud rooms, home offices, the in-law suite, and storm and safe rooms, according to AIA’s survey of more than 500 architecture firms.

Nearly 63 percent of residential architects said interest in outdoor living areas/rooms is increasing. Outdoor living areas ranked as the highest special function room in demand, according to the survey. (View the slideshow: Transform a Yard into an Outdoor Sanctuary)

Another area seeing growing demand are mud rooms/drop zones. More than 45 percent of architects reported a growing interest in mud rooms.

Home owners are also placing higher value lately on special home features that use energy efficiency and increase accessibility to allow aging in place. For example, extra insulation in the attic and a first floor master bedroom have seen an increase in demand, architects report.

“High demand for systems and technologies in the home that helps to lower utility bills and promote sustainability continue to rule the day in residential design,” says Baker.

Also, there is a growing popularity for home automation, with demand increasing for wireless systems, entertainment systems, energy management, and security, the survey finds.

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