It’s not a matter for speculation, or even informed opinion: 21st century consumers know what they’re looking for in a new home, and researchers have uncovered what their criteria are. It’s an exigent market, and taking note of what it wants will help realtors and architects as well as new home buyers seeking the ideal 21st century living space. In this article, we’ll be summing up the trends and research findings as briefly and succinctly as we can. It’s a quick read. Feel free to dig deeper if you’d like more information on any of the points we’ll be covering.
1. Natural Light, a Sense of Airy Spaciousness Often Perceived as “Old-Fashioned”
Think of some of the homes, both old and new, that you’ve seen. There seems to have been a sudden cutoff between homes with big rooms and high ceilings, and the typically eighties homes with bedrooms just big enough for a bed and lounges big enough for a sofa. Somewhere along the line, designers realized that people were craving for “period features,” specifically, spaciousness. So, nowadays, the newest designer homes are giving people what they want – even though consumers may still be (rather suspiciously) viewing “modern” and :cramed” as being two sides of the same coin.
What old homes did often lack, and what 21st century designer homes offer, is lots of natural light. A look at new South Jordan Utah homes for sale, for example, illustrates the point. There’s plenty of indoor space; more windows than barriers on outdoor-facing walls; and sites offering sweeping vistas are the order of the day.
2. Lots of Space in Social and Family Activity Areas
In the old plan for interiors, there were separate rooms for eating and relaxing, and quite often, a formal lounge separate from the family room. Then everything went open-plan – sometimes too open-plan for comfort. The 21st century sees a compromise that allows for cosiness without feeling cramped.
In a way, it harks back to the “great hall” of medieval castles, where a large, open interior space was adapted to suit all social activities. The living / activity area is centrally located with easy access to outdoor spaces, and it’s flexible enough to match both formal entertaining and family relaxation needs. While the activities it will host depends on the family who lives there, the common point is spaciousness and flexibility.
3. Outdoor Privacy
Private outdoor areas are especially important to families with kids. It’s good to let kids play outdoors, but people are increasingly aware of the need to keep kids safe, and private outdoor space helps to do just that. Kids can let off steam, and parents can feel comfortable that their children can make a mess and play without outside interference.
Access to public green spaces comes second if a private garden isn’t on the cards – but parents feel a greater need for supervision and security when kids play in public spaces.
4. Lots of Storage Space
A famous comedian once pointed out that we spend all day at work earning money to buy stuff, which gets stored in the home that we also work and pay for. He wasn’t all that far off. Material goods do accumulate, and finding enough storage space for clothes, toys, sporting equipment, and more can become an issue quite quickly.
The storage space that householers need can be divided into long and short-term storage. Some things should be accessible on a daily basis. Others are only needed in season or on special occasions.
At the same time, home buyers don’t want storage space to be obtrusive – a trick that’s quite possible to achieve with a little design forethought.
5. Dedicated Utility Areas Out of General View
While it’s possible to be pleased with a washing machine, having it on public display isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. And while kitchens and sculleries once housed ironing boards, vacuum cleaners, and the like, people would prefer them to be kept in a dedicated utility area.
Outdoor spaces also need functional areas that, while necessary, aren’t exactly showcased. Every home needs garbage bins, washing lines, and areas for accumulating recyclables. Keeping them unobtrusive yet convenient is key to indoor and outdoor design in the 21st century.
6. Location-Specific Home Designs Tailored to Life-Stages
First-time home buyers are often newly-married couples with no children. As their families grow, the things that are important to them in home design also change. In the course of time, they become empty-nesters, and later, seniors, and again, their needs will change based on their life stage.
For example, while a young couple or even a growing family, may be quite happy with features like steep staircases, elders will be less inclined to like them, even if they have the mobility to navigate them.
Location choices may also change with life-stages. A couple might be perfectly satisfied with a relatively long commute to reach amenities, but once kids need to be ferried to schools and activities, a more central location would be preferred. On the whole, elders would like convenience – easy shopping, access to public transport, and nearby social and healthcare facilities.
The ideal home, cannot be generic to all life-stages. Spaces that are tailored to the needs of residents in areas that will suit their practical and social needs are what 21st century home buyers want to see.
7. A Sense of Community
Although modern cities mean that we may have no more than a nodding acquaintance with our neighbors – if that – most people feel the need for a sense of community. People are sociable creatures with social needs, and an impersonal setting detracts from quality of life.
That is why, even in the largest cities, we see community-oriented housing developments and apartment buildings with an emphasis on shared amenities and social spaces. It’s what people want, and smart design involves considering this need along with the technicalities and the basics.
The need for a sense of community may even see residents overlooking other “basics” like private gardens or lots of storage space. This need spans all the life-stages of homeowners, from couples to families and elders. Community-based living – even in large cities or suburbs is on the rise. Some may say it gives them an improved sense of security, while others say it’s about social contact. Whatever the reasons, it’s one of the factors related to home design that spans all demographics.
The More We Change, the More we Stay the Same
From centuries ago to modern times, our basic needs have remained the same. What the modern age does offer us, is a greater range of opportunities and home designs that will help us to express those wants. They’re also accessible to a greater number of people than ever before. In a sense, nothing that the research has turned up is “new,” although our lifestyles will have altered the way in which they are expressed.
In the interim, a few trends have come and gone, leaving us with a 21st-century home design template that can be tweaked according to our family status and life stage. We always liked space, privacy, and hidden utility areas, for example. But while the 19th century meant homes designed for an army of servants to maintain and few who could afford the “ideal” lifestyle, and the twentieth century may have been too utilitarian for our tastes, the 21st century is all about independence, convenience, and low maintenance with a dash of comfort, friendliness and ambiance thrown in. It’s a good balance. Look out for it when finding the right home for your clients – or when choosing a new home of your own.