Outdoor Living Features Spark Interest

WASHINGTON — For the sixth consecutive year, outdoor living rooms have captured the top spot in terms of growing consumer interest among special-function rooms in the home.

That’s the key finding from The American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) “Home Design Trends Survey,” covering residential architects’ activity with respect to emerging home features, systems and technologies during the second quarter of 2017.

Second and third in terms of special-function rooms are mud rooms and home offices, respectively, “as interest in these spaces has seemingly plateaued,” according to the Washington-based AIA. Consumer interest, although certainly palpable, is far less pronounced when it comes to special-function rooms like au pair/in-law suites, roof decks and home automation/management/mechanical rooms
(see graph).

“Prior to the housing downturn, home offices maintained a solid hold as the most requested special-function room,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. “Obviously new-home technology offerings have influenced residential design trends, but the impact of the Great Recession can still be seen through homeowner interest in better use of existing space.”

Consumer demand also continues to be pronounced for home-related features that accommodate multiple generations, the AIA said, noting that accessibility remains top of mind for homeowners, who are seeking features such as a first-floor master bedroom, wider hallways and doors and easy-to-use features.

“Not surprisingly, demand for greater accessibility features continues to be strong,” Baker observed. “Whether it’s a result of generally lower mobility or the aging baby boomer population, homeowners are preparing for the future.”

Consumers are also increasingly seeking more home-automation features and products, the AIA reported, citing the growing popularity of energy management, wireless telecom data and home-automation controls.

“As more automation products become available, homeowners continue to explore new ways to maintain their spaces with greater ease,” Baker explained.

The AIA’s quarterly series of Home Design Trends Surveys is conducted among a panel of more than 500 architecture firms that concentrate their practice in the residential sector. ▪

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