Quality of Space Outranks Quantity in Most New Homes

2013-03-09T00:00:00Z Quality of Space Outranks Quantity in Most New Homes nwitimes.com
March 09, 2013 12:00 am

While defined formal living rooms can still be found in upscale home plans, this space has evolved considerably in the majority of new homes built in Northwest Indiana over the last several years.

What was once a formal living reserved for special occasions, is now often a den, home office or library. The possibilities are endless - when you add French doors and a closet you have a hobby, exercise or playroom that doubles as a guest bedroom or nursery should the need arise. Replace a powder room with a full bath and you have the potential for a second suite where aging parents or boomerang kids can be comfortable.

Making every inch count is key in new homes today. Buyers are focused on livability and organization. People want their homes to be more versatile with flexible living spaces and plenty of storage. They want rooms that serve many purposes, including the accommodation of multiple generations.

With that in mind, huge two-story rooms are being replaced by more intimate and defined spaces. For example, innovative semi-open floor plans use partial walls to physically separate and define areas, while still maintaining the good traffic flow and visual connections of an open plan.

Drop zones are another trend toward the more practical in home design. A designated space where family members can basically dump all the stuff they take to and from home every day, these spaces are typically located near the garage entrance and/or kitchen and can be customized with charging stations as well as special places for keys, purses, bags, backpacks, coats and shoes plus sports equipment, winter gear and more. Benches and lockers add function and style to drop zones.

Other transitional spaces are also being outfitted with built-ins that transform them into working nooks and alcoves. Beyond handy storage areas (think walk-in pantries for all those bulk items from warehouse stores and linen closet cabinets for easy access to towels and toiletries in bathrooms), convenient “resource centers” include a desk with space for a laptop and printer, a few cubbyholes for supplies, mail and bills plus adequate lighting for children doing homework and adults paying bills.

With drop zones replacing mud rooms, laundry alcoves near the master suite that provide direct access to where the machines are most used are now an option in most floor plans. Those featuring main-floor masters include laundry chutes for the upper level. For a larger, more multi-purpose laundry area, the tub is often outfitted with cabinets and countertops. Some even incorporate islands for storing art and hobby supplies.

The trend toward creating outdoor rooms continues with people wanting to seamlessly connect their indoor and outdoor living areas, preferably with lots of doors and windows that flood great rooms and kitchens with natural light.

Even as buyers are looking to maximize the space inside their home, homebuilders are finding more people want larger garages – not for gas guzzling SUVs or big boy toys but for all the other stuff families tend to accumulate over time (from tricycles and bicycles to seasonal holiday décor, property maintenance equipment, gardening tools and so on). Not only do larger garages help avoid clutter, they also serve as “man caves” with a little extra space reserved for a couch, TV and designated project area.

According to a new study by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) who has just released the top results, four of the most wanted features in a new home involve saving energy – and here in Northwest Indiana our builder have made great strides when it comes to greater energy efficiency. Look for tight building envelopes, efficient heating and cooling systems, Energy Star appliances and lighting as well as ceiling fans.

“This survey is a great resource for building professionals, as it provides an inside look at the things home buyers really want or don’t want in their homes,” NAHB Assistant Vice President for Survey Research Rose Quint, one of the study’s authors, said. “With the housing market beginning to recover, and more consumers in the position to purchase a home, it is more important than ever for builders to be armed with this information.”

The survey also reveals that homebuyers want help with organization and storage. Large majorities want a laundry room, a linen closet in the bath, garage storage and a walk-in pantry.

Our local builders have done a great job anticipating what homebuyers really want, as well as what they are willing to leave behind in light of the current economy. You’ll find great examples of these trends and much more when you tour the new models that are taking shape right now throughout Northwest Indiana.

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