Informal Living Trend Found by Architect Design Survey
Business is good for architects working in the residential sector, with 44% of the firms reporting a 5% increase in their overall billings for the first quarter of this year and the typical firm having more than five months worth of work under contract, according to a survey released by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in June.
“Our data demonstrates that the remodeling market, for both additions/alterations and kitchen/bath renovations, were the strongest sectors in the residential market for the first quarter of 2005,” said Kermit Baker, the association’s chief economist.
“Additionally, the condominium and town house market was nearly as strong, with over half of firms reporting improving conditions for these units,” Baker said. “We have found that the primary drivers in this particular market are young adults and empty-nesters who are interested in moving into urban neighborhoods.”
The first in a series of Home Design Trends Surveys identified “a significant shift in consumer preference from formal living and dining rooms towards more ‘informal features’ featuring an open space layout of family rooms, dens and activity rooms,” Baker said.
Among the design trends cited in the survey:
- Over 40% of the firms working on residential projects reported that the square footage of the homes was increasing, while only 13% said that the average square footage of their homes was on the decline.
- Half of those polled said that ceiling heights were increasing, and techniques to increase volume such as two-story entryways and vaulted ceilings were found to be popular. Almost half of the firms reported growing demand for finished basements and attics, often as the result of owners of older homes looking to increase living space.|
- Two-thirds reported an increase in the demand for “informal space” as an alternative to formal living and dining rooms. Fifty-seven percent said that open space layouts were growing in popularity.
- A majority of the firms reported that homes are being made more accessible with features such as wider hallways, fewer steps and other features to accommodate an aging or less mobile population. Related to this trend, 29% reported growing interest in single-floor designs, although 16% reported a decline in this feature.
- Almost half of the survey participants reported an increase in upscale landscaping and the popularity of outdoor living spaces such as decks, porches and patios. Thirty percent reported an increase in outdoor amenities such as swimming pools, tennis courts and gazebos, while 17% reported that they were on the decline. Twenty-five percent said that fencing, walls or plantings to define lot boundaries was gaining in popularity, with 8% reporting a decrease in their use.
- Only 5% of those polled said that lots were getting larger; 43% reported that they were getting smaller. The remaining 52% indicated that lot sizes were not moving in either direction.
The AIA Design Trend Survey is being conducted on a quarterly basis. Future surveys will cover home features, emerging design trends and kitchen and bath features and products.