AIA Survey Finds Kitchens, Baths More Modest, Functional
Residential architects surveyed by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in last year’s fourth quarter reported that business conditions continued to decline, prompting a shift away from high-end kitchen and bathroom features.
Functionality is now preferable to more and larger kitchens and bathrooms, the latest AIA Design Trends Survey found. Households are also placing a premium on products and features that promote energy efficiency and adaptability in the use of space for seniors and those with accessibility concerns.
“The general consensus is that homes will continue to be smaller on average than they were in the past decade,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. “But since kitchens remain the nerve center of the home, doing more with less space is a key consideration. Integrating kitchens with family space remains a design priority, as does including areas devoted to recycling, pantries, computer workstations, and spaces devoted to recharging laptops, cell phones and PDAs.”
The survey compiled an index score for products and features based on the percentage of respondents reporting that their popularity was increasing minus those reporting that it was decreasing.
At the top of the list for popular kitchen products and features were a recycling center, larger pantry space, renewable flooring materials, renewable countertop materials and a computer area/recharging station.
In the bathroom, the most popular items included water-saving toilets, radiant heated floors, accessibility and universal design, LED lighting and showers without doors.
“Home owners are moving away from glitzy features such as steam showers and towel warming drawers,” said Baker. Instead, they are looking for options that help them manage their utility costs.
The survey also found that conditions were down in billings and inquiries for new projects from the third to the fourth quarter.
“It’s still too early to think the residential market has fully recovered, but there are two encouraging signs — overall business conditions are far better than they were a year ago at this time, and we are seeing improvement in those housing sectors that need to lead a broader improvement in the housing market: remodeling and alterations of existing homes, and at the entry-level of the new construction market,” Baker said.