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How the economic times impact modern American home design

Less drama and less waste mark the blueprints for residential design in the US.
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Written by Sun Kim, Contributing Editor on

One positive effect of the leaner economic times is the decline of 'McMansions', those oversized, homogeneous symbols of the boom years of American housing. In an article for the Wall Street Journal, S. Mitra Kalita outlines how US homes are moving towards more practical features and away from the aspirational.

Whether new construction or renovations, the overall size of American houses remains the same, a median of 2200 square feet. What's changed is how that space is allotted into rooms and how those rooms are used. Residential architects and builders cite fewer places for display (e.g. grand foyers, formal living rooms) and more space for storage.

Other major changes in housing designs include:
- multifunctional rooms replacing separate, formal spaces like dens and offices
- adapting rooms for multi-generational families and aging in place (moving bedrooms downstairs, replacing second set of stairs with closets that can later be replaced with an elevator)
- major bathroom renovations (replacing jacuzzis and soaker tubs with steam shower stalls or tubs with a removable wall for accessibility)

The recession left a population with shifted priorities, reflected in the design shifts of our homes.

Stephen Melman, an economist for the National Association of Home Builders, sums it up: "Value and need are driving the home purchase decisions, not the potential investment value."

Blueprint for a New American Home [The Wall Street Journal]
Image: Lineal, Inc.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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