Survey Forecasts Smaller Homes, Key Changes in Design

NEW YORK — In the next 10 years, American homes will shrink in size and grow healthier in design and more amenable to aging in place, according to a newly released survey conducted by the International Furnishings and Design Association (IFDA).

The association’s “Vision for the Future of Home” survey, whose results were released recently, also found that it is likely that more homeowners will want to live with modern design, in terms of styling, and the enjoyment of modern conveniences – “like sensor-activated everything” – as wellness and aging-in-place considerations become even more of a priority in residential construction and design.

The IFDA survey, which mirrors recent findings by the National Kitchen & Bath Association, was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, “and may reflect the effects of the nation’s social-distancing lockdown,” IFDA survey director Susan Hirsh said.

According to the New York-based IFDA, association members predicted in 2010 that homes would be getting smaller, and 62% of this year’s survey respondents agree. By contrast, in 2010, only 49% of those surveyed foresaw homes getting smaller. The current trends toward fewer rooms and the waning of formal living and dining rooms were predicted in 2010 and again this year for the homes of 2030. In both surveys, indoor/outdoor rooms were also seen as continuing to be popular.

In 2010, IFDA members predicted that, by now, much home equipment and many home furnishings would be activated by voice and sensor, Hirsh observed. “That has not come true to the extent predicted, but this year’s survey also foresees continued growth in the popularity of voice and sensor activation,” she noted.

Hacking and privacy concerns were listed as the current top reservations about the smart home, while earlier complaints that technologies complicate simple tasks and are difficult to use were not as much of a concern among survey respondents this year, Hirsh added.

Among other major survey findings:

• Aging-in-place and wellness ranked as high considerations in this year’s survey, surpassing sustainability and green design. Ninety-six percent of respondents said that aging-in-place would be considered in any design plan, and 94% said the same for wellness concerns. By comparison, 81% said more sustainability in design would be a factor in their planning. 90% said they expect appliances to become more energy efficient.

• The trend toward adding wellness features are most prevalent in the bathroom, where 83% of survey respondents said they expect to see more such features in the homes of 2030. Smart glass on mirrors and shower doors is an enhancement that won out over water-saving/smart toilets and multi-jet showers, both of which were popular in the 2010 survey.

• Product multi-functionality is a trend that was cited in both the 2010 and 2020 surveys, according to IFDA.  This year, products that produce lighting as a secondary function were more popular than the idea of products that can also heat, cool or change color.

• In product categories, quartz was the winner for the future of countertops, wood for flooring, and more wallcoverings were predicted by 47% of the respondents.

The survey also addressed how the design community will function. In 2030, 92% predicted more virtual reality presentations. The trend of consumers ordering over the internet (83%) will continue to rise, the survey found, while 73% of respondents said they see an increase in the trend toward clients doing their own ordering, and 72% say the trend toward clients being budget-conscious will continue.


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