Specialty rooms, as well as new systems and technologies that emphasize energy efficiency and fewer maintenance obligations, are high priorities for future homeowners.
The most popular “special function room,” according to a quarterly study conducted by the American Institute of Architects, might not seem like a typical room. In fact, it’s the great outdoors. Outdoor living spaces continue to remain top of mind for those who look to recreate favorite rooms from the inside, out. Whether for the pursuit of enjoying the natural surroundings, entertaining friends or raising a family, having outdoor space is just as important as interior square footage.
Inside the home, the top three specialty rooms are:
- Home Offices: For many, working from home is the new reality. And as a result, functional and comfortable offices are a requirement.
- Mud Rooms: Think of it as an all-purpose and transitional space that leads home owners and their guests from outdoor spaces into the living environs. Most often it’s a pit-stop for storing outdoor gear and, as the name implies, muddy shoes.
- In-Law Suites: The changing dynamic of the US population means that older parents are often moving in with their children. In order to respect the idea of separate living spaces, in-law suites offer both privacy and proximity to family.
Systems and Technologies
Systems and technologies that integrate throughout an entire household continue to grow in popularity. Especially important are systems that build in efficiencies, encourage energy-efficiency and lower maintenance responsibilities. Topping the list of must-haves are wireless systems, which integrate security, locks, lighting, thermostat and sound/entertainment into one control panel.
Home automation continues to gain more acceptance as the technology has become more widely affordable and available, right along with smart phones and tablets, which often put the technology easily in the hands of owners. For instance, do you think you forgot to lock your door? Or do you want to warm your home before you get home from a long day at work? It’s easy to manage either scenario, and others, right from your phone.
Energy-Efficient and Low Maintenance
The most desirable attributes for most any system or home product are energy-efficient and low maintenance. A few popular examples?
- Water heaters with a timer: Consider the energy source in particular. Natural gas offers a more efficient choice and will cost less to operate than electric. In addition, homeowners remain in control of when it turns on and off.
- Universal Design principles: The benefits of implementing Universal Design into a home go beyond low maintenance. These principles allow homeowners to grow old gracefully at home. The most popular design elements include first floor master bedrooms, elevators/ramps, easy-to-use features (e.g. handles), on-grade entry and non-slip floor surfaces.
ENERGY STAR appliances: ENERGY STAR is a trusted name that means something to those building homes. In fact, according to EnergyStar.gov, Americans purchased about 300 million ENERGY STAR certified products in 2012 across more than 65 product categories.