Floor Plans for the Future

New spaces are key in this look at the latest in modern floorplans.

April 1, 2004

Long before they begin searching, many prospective homebuyers dream about floor plans. They wish for extra bedrooms, larger kitchens, or fewer stairs to climb. They want room arrangements that reflect their priorities and accommodate the pattern of their life.

Recent trends in new-home construction are helping buyers realize their dreams. The most popular floor plans offer flexibility, adaptability, and plenty of room to grow. Just about any architectural style is possible because decorative details don't dictate the size and placement of the rooms. As you and your prospective buyers explore the possibilities, watch for these enticing floor-plan trends that are increasing in popularity:

  • Open, Informal Spaces. Formal living rooms are waning in popularity. Given a choice, many buyers opt for an informal "great room' instead. Combining the family room with the dining area gives the home a greater sense of spaciousness. A half wall or a work counter defines the kitchen area while allowing unobstructed views.
  • Fewer Hallways. Homes with fewer hallways have an open, airy feeling. Instead of long, dreary corridors, rooms flow together with doors leading directly to a living area or other shared space. The home may appear larger because less square footage is spent on passageways.
  • Bonus Rooms. There's nothing new in the idea of turning a spare bedroom into a den or a sewing room. However, a spare room takes on extra value when it's adjacent to the kitchen, over the garage, or in another area apart from the bedrooms. Builders often call these areas "bonus' rooms because they give buyers extra space that can serve many functions. Some families will use the bonus room as a play area, while others may envision a multimedia home theater, an art studio, a workshop with noisy equipment, an exercise room, a high-tech home office, or a quiet sanctuary.
  • Sliding Doors. Sliding doors, pocket doors, and other types of movable partitions allow flexibility in living arrangements. An expansive master suite can be divided into a smaller room with an adjacent study. A great room can be transformed into a more intimate living area and a secluded dining room. Simply opening and closing doorways makes the home ready for lively parties or cozy privacy.
  • Accessibility. More and more buyers are seeking homes that can comfortably accommodate family members or guests with mobility problems or visual impairments. Fewer stairs, wider doors and hallways, and larger bathrooms make a home easier to navigate. One-story homes are increasingly popular. Two-story homes have special appeal when they have a bedroom suite on the main level.
  • Abundant Storage Space. Walk-in closets, ample linen closets, dressing rooms, pantries, and easy-to-reach kitchen cabinets add enormous appeal to any home. Although high cathedral ceilings can be beautiful and dramatic, many buyers opt instead for usable storage space on the upper level.
  • Spacious Laundry Rooms. The laundry room, once relegated to the basement, has become bright, spacious, and conveniently located on the main level, usually near the kitchen. The area can become a multi-purpose room with plentiful cabinets, a child's play space, and ample room for crafts and other hobbies.
  • Wider Garages. SUVs and other large vehicles make spacious garages a must for many families. Two-car garages are ideally at least 22 feet wide. Many buyers opt for an even wider three-car garage. Unfortunately, wide garage doors can detract from the curb appeal of an otherwise charming traditional home. To improve the aesthetics, some designers place the garages in the rear. A doorway between the garage and the kitchen or utility room lets family members save steps (and avoid bad weather) when unloading groceries.
  • Outdoor Living. The yard and garden become a part of the floor plan when sliding glass doors lead to decks, patios, and porches. Upscale features include outdoor fireplaces, grills, and wet bars.
  • Special Touches. Homebuyers want practical floor plans, but unexpected, just-for-fun details can seal the deal. Features such as a bedroom balcony, a cozy window seat, a rooftop terrace, or a spiral staircase add a sense of magic.

Learn More:

What 21st Century Home Buyers Want
Researchers for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) interviewed thousands of recent and prospective homebuyers to determine market trends. For a quick summary of findings, see the Consumer Preferences table on the NAHB site.

Boomers on the Horizon: Housing Preferences of the 55+ Market
Also from the NAHB, this report suggests that America's aging population is transforming the shape of our homes.


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