In Part 1 of this series, Colorado Builder outlined many of 2018’s most influential home building design trends as they pertained to common areas and master bathrooms. In this conclusion, we’ll reveal what homeowners and homebuyers want most when it comes to their master bedrooms, kitchens and outdoor spaces. There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get started.
In the bedroom
When it comes to master bedrooms, two demographic sea changes have created an unprecedented situation in our collective history—longer lifespans (along with the often commensurate increase in chronic illness or disability), and a spike in multigenerational living. According to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the average American can expect to live 78.8 years, and the Bureau further estimates that between 7 million and 8 million people will be older than 85 by the year 2020. Bones and joints weaken with age, bearing extra weight is harder (think furniture, suitcases, laundry, etc.) and balance becomes more difficult to maintain, all of which can transform the simple task of ascending the stairs into a daunting experience. A master bedroom on the first floor all but eliminates these accessibility issues.
While main-floor bedrooms offer convenient access to common areas, as walls come down and open-concept spaces encourage more social living, having a well-designed master bedroom on the first floor can simultaneously create a bit of privacy for the adults. This is especially important as in addition to a longer-lived population, the nation has also experienced a historic surge in the number of Americans inhabiting households shared by multiple generations. The Pew Research Center analyzed recent census data and found a record 64 million people living in multigenerational homes, representing 20% of the population.
Speaking of sociability, builders and real estate agents are now hearing a new buzzword—“visitability.” Usually defined as something of a construction movement to make certain that anyone, regardless of age or ability, can live in or visit new homes comfortably, in practice, visitability often translates into two master bedrooms—one on each floor. This type of floor plan makes hosting visiting in-laws, grandparents and other guests a snap, as younger generations can cede the ground floor to their elders. The double-master trend is particularly popular with younger clients, many of whom see great value in using the upstairs bedroom when their children are young, and then after the years take their toll, they have a ready aging-in-place solution right downstairs. Not surprisingly, the ability to age in place is equally appealing to older clientele, and this cohort seeks designs with ground-floor masters or additions that can become bedrooms. Indeed, 61% of respondents to the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) “Home Design Trends Survey” indicated an upswing in additions or alterations.
By far the most important feature of a first-floor master bedroom? An adjoining ground-floor master bathroom, of course. In fact, among baby boomers working on renovations to the master bath, more than four in 10 (46%) are also remodeling the master bedroom, according to the “2018 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study.”
Kitchens that really cook
As we noted in Part 1, kitchen floor plans are becoming both larger and better integrated with other shared spaces, and universal design, convenience and high-tech considerations drive construction and remodeling trends in this area as well. Given the central role kitchens often play, the fact that this room tends to eat up the greatest investment—the Houzz study puts the median kitchen spend at $11,000—is telling.
Design-wise, Americans crave not only bright and spacious cooking areas, they’re also looking for more accessible kitchens that maximize function and convenience. This can manifest in lower microwaves (rather than above the oven), light switches and sinks, or putting two ovens in different places in lieu of stacking them. According to the AIA survey, 44% of respondents say kitchens “integrated with family space” are increasingly appealing. Other in-demand features noted in the AIA survey include computer workspaces or electronic charging areas, with an index score of 35%, larger pantries and butler pantries (34%), “undercounter appliances” (30%), two islands (25%) and wine refrigerators or storage, at 23%.
Appliances are seeing some modern updates, too, with experts agreeing that stainless steel is fast on its way out in favor of natural materials like concrete, copper, granite and other stone on countertops and appliances. Those appliances are not only becoming more luxurious, but they’re getting smarter, too. “Upper-end appliances” were popular with one-quarter (25%) of AIA survey respondents, as were smart appliances. Smart kitchens are also becoming more prevalent, with 22% citing a rise in “connected” kitchens.
“Demand has remained solid for smart home features in the kitchen, which isn’t a surprise as more new systems and products are being introduced at a dizzying pace,” AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Ph.D, Hon., said in a statement. “At the same time, ensuring accessibility throughout these areas and promoting convenience remain priorities for homeowners.”
The great outdoors
As we transition out of the kitchen and into the outdoors, it’s worth noting that 45% of responses to the AIA survey indicated spaces that blend the two in the form of outdoor kitchens were increasingly important. Whether accessed from common spaces or master bedrooms, outdoor living is one of the hottest trends among homebuyers and remodelers alike—according to the “2017 Houzz Landscape Trends Study,” a survey of U.S. homeowners in the midst of or recently completing outdoor projects, nearly 70% of homeowners relax in their outdoor space. During warmer months, they’ll spend almost seven hours per week doing precisely that, and even in colder months, outdoor space still sees almost a solid two and a half of hours of use a week.
RELATED: Outdoor Kitchens Grow in Popularity
This embrace of the outdoors has not only resulted in outdoor kitchens and bars—complete with sinks and refrigerators, of course—but also an increase in demand for stunning patios, porches and balconies. Ideal spaces for entertainment, many Americans are eager to furnish these areas with seating just as comfortable as anything a guest may find inside.
Another hot trend in outdoor living? Fireplace and fire pits. When it comes to fireplaces, indoor-outdoor options and sealed-front products are quite popular, and the latter is especially well-suited to many Colorado homeowners’ needs, as they don’t feature an open flame (it’s behind sealed glass), a crucial consideration for those who live in more fire-prone regions of the state. Additionally, as Peter Schoenfeld, vice president of sales at Fireplace Warehouse and president of the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, Rocky Mountain chapter, told Colorado Patio & Landscape, “What people are liking about the sealed-front units is that the elements don’t really get inside of it: leaves and dust and spiders and bugs.”
While no one can be absolutely certain of the future, these building and design trends currently dominating common areas, master bathrooms, master bedrooms, kitchens and the outdoors don’t show any signs of flagging. Americans have only recently begun to embrace the concepts of universal design, visitability and aging in place. As awareness continues to expand, Colorado home builders can expect to see these trends strengthen as the year progresses.
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