Just as the housing-boom spurred home builders into adding square footage and opulent features to homes, so has the economic downturn caused big home builders and small architecture firms to re-evaluate their designs and opt for a more practical modern home.  You can see these new styles and features show up in newer home builds, yet also in renovated homes, as people are staying in one place for longer periods of time.   While average home square-footage has remained relatively the same, it’s how that space is used that has changed.  Formal rooms, like dining rooms and living rooms, are disappearing and families are opting for every-day use areas to play a larger part in their purchasing and design decisions.   Here are some features that are disappearing and the practical designs that are replacing them.

Past:  Grand foyers
Present:  ‘Drop Zones’

Grand, double-story entrance foyers are now seen as a waste of space and inefficient.  A more functional ‘drop-zone’ is now replacing this feature.  A ‘drop-zone’ can be compared to a larger version of the mud room, a place to unload backpacks, shoes and coats before entering the greater area of the home. 

Past:  Formal living rooms
Present:  Open family rooms

Historically, formal living rooms have been used for Christmas trees, never-sat-on furniture, and little else.  Families are now moving toward an integrated, open area that includes the kitchen, family room, and dining area.  This allows for increased family interaction and less wasted space.

Past:  Second staircase
Present:  Room for an elevator

With homeowners staying in their homes longer and thus growing old in them, having a second staircase has become a bonus feature that is no longer practical.  At some point, those stairs become an obstacle.  Homeowners with multiple stories are now moving in the direction of adding ground floor living options and leaving space for an elevator should the need arise.

Past:  Dad’s office
Present:  ‘Lifestyle center’

Technology has increasingly moved in a mobile direction and this has eliminated the need for a room dedicated to just Dad.  The lifestyle center is an area that all members of the home can share; a multifunctional work-room that can be used at all hours of the day.

Past:  Soaker tubs
Present:  Steam showers

Soaker tubs are rarely used luxuries that are being replaced by bigger shower stalls that allow for greater movement.  Showers are more commonly used over tubs, and as families find themselves staying longer in one place, the need for a comfortable, long-term bathing solution takes precedence over luxury.

Past:  Breakfast nook
Present:  Outdoor living space

Since open family rooms are becoming the norm and resulting in the kitchen being combined with the dining room, there’s no more need for a separate small table for breakfast.  Homeowners are instead opting for using that nook space for small, outdoor patios that double as a living space – including fire pits and plenty of seating.

Times have certainly changed and has moved the modern american family home into the future.  What category does your home fall into — past or present?

Contact Barb Bottitta for any and all of your Lehigh Valley area questions, as well as real estate needs, as I am always happy to help in any way that I can!  You can also connect with me on my Facebook Page.

Original article from the Wall Street Journal

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