By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine
The special function room – like outdoor living rooms and home offices — had mostly vanished from new-homes and home remodels during the housing downturn. But now they’re reappearing. Also back in demand, special home features – like features that add accessibility – are gaining traction, according to the latest American Institute of Architects Home Design Trends Survey, which reflects architect activity during the second quarter of 2014.
Which special rooms are trending?
- Outdoor living rooms: The AIA survey showed that nearly two-thirds of architects reported that outdoor living areas and rooms were growing in popularity.
- Home offices: As more workers telecommute and the number of self-employed workers remains strong, the home office is re-emerging in importance.
- Mudrooms: More home owners are finding these an attractive option for storage and for organizing outerwear, backpacks, etc.
- Au pair/in-law suites: “The recent interest in these areas is likely due to the growing employment numbers in our economy, which is increasing the need for in-home childcare,” notes Kermit Baker, AIA’s chief economist, in the report. “Additionally, as many households become caretakers for aging relatives, separate living suites have become popular alternatives.”
- Media rooms/home theaters: A core of households are still highly valuing this type of room, the report notes, but many respondents to the survey say that in general they feel the media room is starting to lose favor.
The three special function rooms that architects identified as highest in demand: Outdoor living areas, mudrooms, and home offices, according to the AIA survey.
“Households are responding to the ongoing recovery in the housing market by adding more space and features to their homes,” Baker notes. “Special home features that were often eliminated during the housing downturn are now increasingly returning to home designs. Home automation features, as well as products that promote sustainability, are also showing up with increasing frequency in both new and remodeled homes.”
Many of the “special home features” in demand lately have centered on adding accessibility to a home, such as ramps and elevators, first-floor master bedrooms, and on-grade home entry, according to AIA’s report.
Home automation is also increasing in popularity, such as wireless telecommunications and data systems, long-range electrical controls/smart-home systems, automated lighting controls and central audio/video.
“With consumers generally more comfortable with emerging technologies, and the prices of many falling as production volumes increase, home automation applications should continue to grow in popularity,” notes Baker. “Additionally, systems that promote increased energy efficiency and sustainable home design continue to be popular. Energy management systems, solar panels, electric docking stations for cars, and geothermal heating/cooling heat pumps are all on the list of popular home systems, according to residential architects.”