Market trend: Prospective homeowners want multipurpose spaces

From home design to interior decorating trends, owners are leaning toward spaces that can serve many functions.

Allyson Rees, a senior editor at World's Global Style Network says it could be because people are renting more. Which has pushed designers to see the need for style to be flexible and functional.

The rise of the open floor plan / open concept home

Even art canvas choice says something about today's consumer. Bold textures and lots of color are both back in a big way. Which many analysts believe is a backlash from the minimalism trend that was booming until the end of last year. So what can we determine from open floor spaces being used in the majority of homes today?

Perhaps it is a sign of our present times, but today’s consumers want more connection between each daily living activity. The child in an average family spends almost 2 hours looking at a screen. Stats from adults are higher, with CNN reporting 10 hours a day looking at a screen. Accordingly, even with the whole family in the same room, the chances are high everyone could be absorbed in their own online activities. Thus, the desire for an open floor plan could be a subconscious response for human connection and contact, no matter how much we love our phones. And from how designers are responding, open floor plans seem to fill that unspoken desire.

What this looks like in a home is not rigid nor strictly defined. Where rooms used to be designated, such as a space for an office, now, there are fewer walled-off rooms. Giving way to one large connected living space. Often on the first floor, there will be a combination of kitchen, living room, dining room, family room, and entryway.

Multi-generational and multi-functional equals multipurpose

Many potential home buyers are looking for that extra room somewhere that can be used as a guest room, a room for an elderly grandparent, or a gaming den. Naturally, not all at once. But this need for an extra room that can be designated by the home owner to fulfill a certain need has designers thinking out of the box. If the floor plans are too established, homeowners find it difficult to realize the possibility of such arrangements.

Thus, the trend for labeling a space as multipurpose and taking it outside of the traditional placement. This simple move allows homeowners to project onto the space their own plans and purposes.

Parents are increasingly asking how a space will be used after a child leaves for college. So creating a den only for their children's use no longer has the same appeal it once had. Parents with families want to see that a room will have a purpose beyond its present-day function. And this is where today’s leading designers are selling the multipurpose concept.

Smart use of space requires more planning from the start. Any room in a house could serve two purposes. But how well can it do that? The trick lies in making the multipurpose room fit a bevy of possible needs of homeowners, no matter how eclectic. This comes from a basic understanding of what homeowners say they are looking for and what they actually end up using the room for at the end of the day.

Outdoor living in the great indoors

Another way multipurpose spaces are manifesting itself in design is the merging of outdoor and indoor spaces. Millennials are at the heart of this trend toward more outdoor living. Seen in RV purchasing trends. And other adventure and outdoor activities where Millennials are a large part of the consumer base.

Architects are answering through patios, decks, and sunrooms that double as living room spaces. For instance, a kitchen that opens out onto a deck. This deck doubles as the dining area. Or French doors off the dining room that opens onto a patio. And the patio serves a living-room function.

For those in less than moderate climates, where patios and decks can only be used a couple months out of the year? Homeowners are looking for sunroofsand indoor and outdoor fireplaces. In a survey by AvidBuilder, 31 percent of buyers moving to larger homes said they wanted an outdoor fireplace. Outdoor fireplaces are often placedon a deck or in an extension of a sitting area stretching out into the backyard. So even those in cold climates are looking for ways to enjoy the outdoors during winter months.


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