|Posted by decksandeffects on September 30, 2012 at 12:55 AM|
Exerpt from USA Today's Renewal Series ran April 17, 2012
"Before it was curb appeal, showiness and keeping up with the Joneses," says Duo Dickinson, author of Staying Put: Remodel Your House to Get the Home You Want (Taunton Press.)
Now, he says, Americans are going back to the future as they try to create permanent, family homes that reflect who they are. "The house is the most direct mirror of your personal values," he says. "When people renovate to change their lives, they waste money," but when they renovate to improve how they already live, they benefit.
Levine agrees. Before a project starts, he says, "It's really important for homeowners to know what's bothering them about the house." He says if they can't identify the problem, they may not find the right solution.
What are homeowners seeking?
• Outdoor connection. Dickinson says the single biggest overall trend is homeowners craving to be connected to the outdoors, via larger windows, decks or porches.
"Since the advent of smartphones and laptops, people have found their visual focus is about 1 foot away," he says, adding they need a release from that. "Homes are more permeable. We have many more garden designs than before."
Vegetable gardens, too. Many homeowners are indulging their outdoor craving, and the push to eat local, by creating a homestead that grows food and — in some cases — even raises livestock.
• Livable kitchens. "The kitchen is the new living room," says Dickinson, so he says Americans want cushioned seating at the counter or in a built-in banquette. He says homeowners also want the kitchen to multitask as a recycling center and a spot to recharge laptops. He says they're shifting from wall cabinets, which can block views to a living area, toward walk-in pantries for storage.
• More open floor plans. Many homeowners want kitchens that connect not only to a living room but also to a dining area and the outdoors. "They want more light and openness," says Richard Loosle of Kube Architecture, a Washington D.C.-based firm that remodels many row houses.
• Togetherness. With this open-living core, there's "a return to togetherness, a countertrend to the 1990s when everyone fled the great room," Jill Waage of Better Homes and Gardens said February in a presentation at the International Builders Show. "Now we're flocking back." She says Wi-Fi and headphones allow individuals to remain in the same room while doing different activities.
• Smaller master baths. Kitchens may be opening up, but many master baths are shrinking. "We're doing away with spa tubs. We're reclaiming that space for larger showers and vanities," says Josh Baker of BOWA, a high-end remodeler in the nation's capital. He says his clients now focus more on quality, timeless finishes and less on size.
• Better use of space. Rather than expand, homeowners are looking to reconfigure existing space to make it work better. Readers surveyed last year by Better Homes and Gardens said they wished for a home with 1,856 square feet — down from 1,914 square feet in 2010.
• Energy efficiency. "Windows, insulation and doors were the 1, 2, 3 for energy efficiency" upgrades requested by clients in the last quarter of 2011, says Melman of the National Association of Home Builders. A close fourth was more efficient heating and cooling, or HVAC, equipment.
"Show me the money" is what Connecticut-based architect Dickinson hears from clients about green renovations. He says consumers want retrofits, as long as they pay for themselves within 10 years.
Federal tax credits for more efficient doors, windows, roofs and HVAC systems expired in December, but they remain in effect through 2016 for solar panels, geothermal heat pumps, solar water heaters, small wind turbines and fuel cells.
• Mudrooms or "drop zones." "Mudrooms have burgeoned in size," Dickinson says, as Americans seek to reduce clutter and bring order to their homes. He says those who don't have the space for a mudroom are asking for a basic "drop zone" to put shoes.
• Universal design. As Baby Boomers enter their golden years, they're seeking to stay in their homes by building wheelchair-accessible ramps, wider hallways and step-free showers. "