Remember when small closets were standard and people simply put their off-season wardrobes into storage?
Every year, builders look at the emerging preferences of home buyers, hoping to stay ahead of changes in the way we live.
These days, clutter equals stress, said Jill Waage, an editorial director for Better Homes and Gardens.
"Storage took on another level of importance when the economy started its downturn and people became more conscience of themselves," Waage said. The sentiment, she said, was "my stuff is stressing me out."
Among the solutions being added to new and existing homes are built-in storage at entrances such as shelving around the front door, under-stairway offices, storage drawers in shower benches and using the depth in two-sided walls for cabinets and shallow shelves. "There's no more dead space," she said.
Other trends identified by the Better Homes and Gardens consumer attitudes study released at the International Builders' Show in Las Vegas last month were strong preferences for energy-saving appliances, larger rooms and outdoor living space.
The needs of specific age groups of home buyers also are driving designs.
While Gen Y buyers remain "financing challenged" for several more years in regards to home ownership, single-family home builders are targeting both Gen X and late baby boomers, said Stephen Moore of Des Moines-headquartered BSB Design. He identified several design trends:
1. People are staying in their homes longer. Buyers have less of a "turn and burn" mentality now, Moore said, so designers are working with that in mind.
2. Houses are growing again. Five years ago, the average new home had about 2,500 square feet of living space; last year it had more than 2,500 square feet. "Buyers are looking for the most square feet for the money," he said.
3. Casual spaces rule, Moore said. Flex space is popular, and formal rooms are out with the exception of the foyer. "The lifestyle triangle -- kitchen, family room and casual dining area -- enables unified living," he said.
4. Buyers want their lives to be easier. The laundry room, for example, is moving closer to the dirty clothes. "No more walk-through laundry room" as a way into the house, Moore said. Recent designs are attaching the laundry room to the master closet.
5. Specialized spaces are growing in popularity. Pet rooms, snore rooms and designs for multigenerational households are on the rise.
As houses change to meet current lifestyles, features such as multiple master suites will become "the cup holders of housing," Moore said. "How did we ever live without it?"