AIA: Homeowners prefer efficiency and simplicity

by WOHe

Washington, D.C – March 9, 2010 – Without the rapid appreciation in home values seen between 1995 and 2005, design of kitchens and bathrooms has recently been somewhat more modest. Functionality is now preferred to more and larger kitchens and bathrooms within U.S. homes. Households are 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.

Residential architects continue to report declining business conditions, indicating that the housing market is not yet entering a full recovery phase. These findings are from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey for the fourth quarter of 2009, which focused specifically on kitchen and bathrooms. 

“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, PhD, Hon. AIA. “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.”

Popular kitchen products and features*20092008
Recycling center:52%48%
Larger pantry space:47%50%
Renewable flooring materials:46%54%
Renewable countertop materials:46%49%
Computer area / recharging stations43%48%
Integration with family space:41%40%
Drinking water filtration systems:30%31%
Adaptability / universal design:28%32%
Double island:20%19%

* Index score computed as % of respondents reporting increasing minus those reporting decreasing popularity

Baker added, “Homeowners are moving away from glitzy features such as steam showers and towel warming drawers/racks, and instead looking for water-saving toilets, radiant heated flooring and LED lighting options to manage utility costs.”

Popular bathroom products and features*20092008
Water saving toilets:63%57%
Radiant heated floors:52%50%
Accessibility / universal design:50%52%
LED lighting:49%41%
Doorless showers:47%50%
Hand showers:36%45%
Linen closet / storage:29%25%

* Index score computed as % of respondents reporting increasing minus those reporting decreasing popularity

Housing market business conditions

AIA Home Design Survey Index for Q4 2009 (any score above 50 is positive)

  • Billings: 32 (down from 38 in Q3 2009)
  • Inquiries for new projects: 45 (down from 46 in Q3 2009)

“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.” said Baker.

Specific construction segments (index score computed as % of respondents reporting improving minus those reporting weakening conditions)

  • Kitchen and bath remodeling: 28
  • Additions / alterations: 21
  • First-time buyer / affordable home market: -4
  • Move-up home market: -31
  • Custom / luxury home market: -44
  • Townhouse / condo market: -46
  • Second / vacation home market: -71

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