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The Real Estate Wonk
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What's hot, what's not in the American home

The American home is continuing to get bigger, while several studies show that owner preferences are shifting on what’s in and what’s out within that space.

For the fifth year in a row, new houses were heftier last year, growing to an average of 2,679 square feet, reports the National Assn. of Home Builders. Gaining popularity in home design across the country, the builder group says, are walk-in closets in master bedrooms, dedicated laundry rooms and open-concept great rooms. Laminate is out, as are outdoor kitchens and outdoor fireplaces.

In bathrooms, wall-hung floating vanities are “in” as are under-mount sinks, according to research from the National Kitchen & Bath Assn. Jetted tubs are falling out of favor. Instead, a soak in a free-standing tub is in vogue. But jets are desired in showers, which are becoming more luxurious.

In the kitchen, paneled appliances that blend into the cabinetry are gaining favor, said John Petrie, the kitchen and bath association president. And appliances are being moved around the kitchen. Two ovens, Petrie said, could be in different locations rather than above one another.

“The kitchen work triangle, from the days when there was only one cook, is being replaced,” said Maria Stapperfenne, president-elect of the trade group. “In creating multiple zones we can have more people work in the same space.”

Car lover's delight in La Cañada Flintridge

The do-it-yourself market is being fueled by Millennials, research from Better Homes and Gardens shows, with 18-to34-year-olds more likely to buy fixer houses. They make up 45% of DIYers and are likely to mix materials and colors in their decors.

The age group values casual entertaining, said Jill Waage, an editorial director at Better Homes. So the amount of space dedicated to socializing — and its personalization — is important.

“This generation loves to have their own style,” Waage said. “It’s a big deal for them to feel good about their space.”

The most remodeling dollars are being used in bathrooms, followed by kitchens, according to the 2013 Houzz & Home report. “But it’s not with resale in mind,” said Liza Hausman, a vice president for the website. “Some 80% are making home improvements to please themselves.”

Four out of 10 bathroom remodelers are leaving the tub out of the master. Rain showers are more popular among younger homeowners, while hand showers resonated more with owners 45 and older, who are also more likely to want two sinks.

Of those embarking on kitchen projects, 77% want to open the kitchen to other rooms, while 61% want to add an island.

Other Houzz findings: Pendant lighting is in, as are natural stone and quartz counters; tile, including glass tile, is the most popular material for backsplashes; flex space and multipurpose rooms, Hausman said, “are huge.”


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Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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