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Home designs of the future

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Houses of the future will sport "dirty kitchens," garages equipped for parties and clubrooms that will be more popular than today's family rooms.

And that's only the beginning of what housing experts are predicting for home design. They also say new child-oriented features will help keep youths at home.

Interiors will have more designated storage spaces to provide organization and reduce stress. Interior changes will be made to cater to immigrants, an increasing share of the new-home market.

There will be more indoor/outdoor living spaces, including courtyards.

Exterior designs of new houses will reflect updated versions of historic American homes.

Cluster housing will become increasingly prevalent as land available in desirable locations shrinks, especially in regions such as Baltimore's, where demand for housing remains high and building sites are limited. And older baby boomers like the ability to live on one floor of a home, even if it's several stories high.

"We're seeing a lot of townhouses that will have the master bedroom on the first floor and people can just close off the upstairs until company comes over," said Georganne Derick, president of Merchandising East and MS Interior Design in Ellicott City.

Architects, designers, builders and other housing experts offered a spectrum of ideas - from designing for different generations and cultures to new design trends around the country - when they gathered late last month in Las Vegas for the International Builders' Show.

If some of these ideas don't show up right away in a subdivision near you, it's because many of the new design trends originate in California and spread to the rest of the country.

One of them is the "dirty kitchen," says Chicago architect Salvatore Balsamo, who spoke at the show, which serves as the convention of the National Association of Home Builders. It's a way to separate the mess from the guests. Much of the cooking takes place in the "dirty kitchen," leaving the main kitchen as a showplace where people can gather during a party.

Not far from the kitchen, another trend is emerging: tucking garages away so they are not as prominent from the street. In addition, the uses of garages might expand beyond storing cars and garden tools.

"Today's 500-square-foot Garage Mahal can be tricked out with a bar, sink and music amplifier to create a space for entertaining," suggested Jillian Cooke, president of DES-SYN, a design firm in Atlanta.

"The new hub of the house will be a clubroom, a combination media center, bar and home office," predicted Marc Three, co-chief executive and owner of Marc-Michaels Interior Design Inc. in Winter Park, Fla.

"Big power desks are gone," he said, leaving more space in the clubroom for a multitude of other uses.

Several trends were showcased in the "ultimate family home," a rambling residence that was open during the Las Vegas convention.

It was designed using input from focus groups that revealed "how families really want to live," according to its sponsors, Pardee Homes, Bassenian/Lagoni Architects, and Builder and Home magazines.

A family might want a mini-mountain in the back yard that is topped by a tree house and has a water slide spiraling down into a swimming pool.

One purpose of the recreational facilities is to make the house a destination for neighborhood youngsters, a way to keep the children at home. A loft game room is another youth-oriented amenity.

The three-level, 5,300-square-foot Spanish and Mediterranean-style hacienda with a red-tile roof claims energy efficiency that will save up to $5,000 a year in utility costs compared with conventionally built houses. Solar power adds to the energy efficiency.

The ultimate family home is loaded with storage in an effort to cut down on clutter.

"People can achieve a better quality of life with better organization and less clutter," said Annie Pane, ergonomic design consultant at East Coast Feng Shui, Woodbridge, Va., who spoke at the show.

Near the garage of the ultimate family home is a "locker room" with a designated locker for each family member. At the end of the room is a built-in cubby hole for the family dog.

The show home's Southwestern style fits its location perfectly. In other parts of the country, however, residential design is looking back at classic designs of America's past.

"Housing was utilitarian in the '50s, '60s and even '70s. Now exteriors are becoming more historic, authentic and detailed," said Doug Sharp, managing partner of the architectural firm Bloodgood Sharp Buster in West Des Moines, Iowa. "We're updating designs from the 19th century through the 1920s. The neo-traditional movement is reflected in nostalgic communities."

Doris Pearlman, president of Possibilities for Design in Denver, noted that French and Italian exterior designs were popular in the 1990s. "But since 9/11, more American-style homes are being built. They are more rustic, more Craftsman, even Victorian," she said.

Outdoor living is more associated with Sun Belt locations, but it could be increasing in northern locations as courtyards, frequently with fireplaces and built-in barbecues, become more popular.

"Courtyards extend the living area," Balsamo said. "They're private spaces, which can be very comfortable even in 50-degree weather with the addition of heaters."

Immigrants account for an increasing share of the housing market, and catering to them will become increasingly important.

"At the Greenwood Meadows subdivision in New Jersey, we've had a 45 percent increase in Asian and Indian buyers, a dramatic shift," said Lisa Macchi, vice president of sales and marketing at Millennium Homes in Livingston, N.J. She said these groups know what they want and the builder has made changes to accommodate them.

"Both groups want an eastern exposure. Asians won't buy a house with a front staircase in line with the front door. Indians want baths as far from the kitchen as possible, and they want a lower shower head for foot washing. Indians also want an upstairs prayer room," Macchi said.

Selling to Asians requires a knowledge of feng shui, the ancient Eastern philosophy that prescribes how homes should be arranged for optimum benefits.

"Feng shui is well known in California, particularly San Francisco, and it will spread to the rest of the country in five years," predicted Pane, the ergonomic design consultant.

Retirement housing continues to be popular.

"Before, everyone wanted to live in the Sun Belt," Balsamo said. "Now many retirees want to live near their families and friends."

Those empty-nesters will also want two of everything, said Ellicott City's Derick, who attended the builders show. "They want his and her offices, his and her bedrooms and his and her baths," Derick said. "They've shared before and they've decided its not worth the aggravation in a new house."

Sun staff writer James Gallo contributed to this article. The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper

What buyers want in a house

Forty-five percent of buyers want environmentally friendly homes but are reluctant to pay more for them.

Kitchen/family room arrangements that are completely open were desired by 33 percent last year, compared with 9 percent in 1980.

Forty percent said they are willing to buy a home without a living room.

In the kitchen, 85 percent said, it is essential to have a walk-in pantry, and 77 percent said they must have an island work area.

Based on a survey of 2,200 households in October by the National Association of Home Builders. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.

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