Home designs, architectural styles, and how we use different rooms has all changed. Since 1973 the average size home has grown from 1660 to 2459 sqaure feet, backyards have become an extension of the living space, and the kitchen/family room, or great room, has become the main room in the home. Ceilings have become vaulted, closets have become walkable, master bedrooms have morphed into suites, and garages have become monsterous.
Home owners have come to want and expect different things from their homes and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) tries to stay on top of these changing trends by conducting surveys and doing studies.
So where are the trends going now? Reported in Digital Home Online, Gopal Ahluwalia, staff vice president for research for the National Association of Home Builders, said the home of the future will be two stories, with a one-story entry foyer, and either no living room, or one that will end up serving more as a library or parlor. Consumers buying upscale homes will want two master bedroom suites and an outside kitchen stocked with all the latest amenities — all standard. Ahluwalia also projects the size of an average home will decrease to 2,330 square feet by 2015.
Respondents to an (NAHB) survey said they will want more of these amenities:
76% said more counter space
74% said more cabinet space
72% want double sinks
70% said larger table areas to eat in their kitchens
66% want outdoor kitchens
64% expect bathrooms to have double vanities
For buyers of upscale homes, the expectations increase to include high-quality appliances (96%) and they want more cabinet and counter space. 94% say they want walk-in pantries, 62% say they want two master suites in their home and 66% want an outdoor kitchen. And 80% of these future home owners want upgraded electronic features including multi-zone controlled HVAC, multi-room audio systems, whole-house automation systems, monitored burglar alarms, and programmable thermostats.
Steam showers, portable aromatherapy spas and natural sinks made with granite, stone and darker woods are also hot for the near future. Kohler’s new bath, complete with rushing rapids, and many companies’ automatic sinks are also expected to be popular.
Christopher Sanderson, of The Future Laboratory and Richard Brindley, of the Royal Institute of British Architects, look deeper into the future with a project looking into the movements of future living and say one of the main factors affecting future homes will be the continually changing climate. Colder winters and hotter summers will demand better insulation and blinds, canopies and air conditioners.
Mr Brindley says that as major cities grow, space will be at a premium and homes will have to be adaptable, with the same rooms used for many purposes. He says that technology already exists to build houses with movable walls, which could run on tracks to enable the same space to be arranged in different ways for different functions.
One great example of this would be Jade Jagger (Mick’s daughter) is a co-owner of 16 West 19th in New York, which uses pods for kitchens and baths. The website describes these as, “jewel-like lacquered boxes that seem to float in each residence. Enclosed within this single cube are your meticulously laid-out kitchen and bathroom. When opened, the pod reveals a glamorous interplay of sparkling tiles, vivid colors and textures.”
Glass technology is also changing, and future homes may utilize “smart glass”, or chromogenics, which is clear but turns opaque when you run an electrical current through it, making it useful for closing off areas.
Small homes will need more adaptable furniture, such as convertible sofa-beds and furniture which can be neatly stacked away when not in use, and entertainment at home may change to accommodate our changing lifestyles.
Mr Brindley says: “A flat screen on your wall could double up as your front door intercom, your computer and be used to watch films. He continued, “You will also be able to do things like switch machinery in the home on and off from on holiday and that sort of thing.”
Refrigerators may begin using Radio Frequency Identification technology (RFID), which is widely used in supermarket check-outs to identify when home owners are low on items. These fridges could even suggest recipes based on items on the shelves and suggest complimentary items for your shopping trips.
The two also believe sound-wave technology will be used to assist water in cleaning. This technology already exists on the market for cleaning contact lenses and it is being explored for uses with dishwashers and washing machines.
And then, of course, there are the robots. Mr Brindley thinks that we will begin to see micro robots to perform functions such as cleaning toilets and opening your blinds for you.
Futurist Joseph Coates, author of “2025″ (Oakhill Press), sees the day when homes are totally automated, with furniture that adjusts to your body’s shape at the mention of your name, robotic chefs and diagnostics that call for necessary repairs. Coates predicts homes will have rooms that know who enter and will automatically change the temperature to suit their preferences. He also sees sensors that will monitor indoor air pollution and health conditions, and systems that allow home owners to review and change their energy-use patterns for greater efficiency.
Microsoft has developed technology for interactive wallpaper that can display artwork, websites, and photos.
Whirlpool tubs are being replaced with deep, comfortable soaking tubs and those may be replaced soon with infinity tubs, or Sök’s. These tubs have an infinity overflow that lets the water drain slowly over the tub edge into a catch basin, where it is reheated and effervesced (bubble massage) and recirculated into the tub. As featured in this photo, they can also have the water enter from out of the ceiling for greater effect. There’s also remote-controlled “chroma-therapy,” which alters the color of built-in LED lights in the tub to fit — or set — your mood.
Paint colors may turn to so called “chameleon colors”, or colors that change with different lighting and from different angles.
Kitchen floors today are cherry, oak and walnut. Soon we may see much more anegre, bamboo, teak and even cork, according to Dan Myerson, of Bacon Veneer, one of the leading wood veneer suppliers for high-end office and residential applications.
Counter-top trends may move more toward concrete, glass and metals such as copper and zinc. Diane Bryant, sales director for Philadelphia condo development, the Ritz-Carlton, predicts that granite will not lose much popularity but other stones – limestone and sandstone for example – will gain.
The maximizing of space and the ever-changing face of our individual environments will continually intrigue us and inspire us, but most importantly, these spaces will continue to give us access to the most important place we know, home.