By Charles Richardson and Echo Dempsey
The home plans buyers of today have more options than ever before.
With the advances in building materials over the past decade, it’s possible to customize a living experience that fits your lifestyle and preferences. And though the actual design, style, and theme may vary from homeowner to homeowner, there are a few key features that virtually everyone wants.
Open floor plans
Selecting the right floor plan for your dream home is critical. After all, the flow and arrangement of rooms will determine the feel of your home and must take into account every member of your family. Open floor plans have become increasingly popular as they connect “separate” rooms by minimizing the use of walls and small, enclosed areas. Not only do open floor plans encourage social interaction, they are great for families with small children. Mom or Dad can cook dinner in the kitchen and still keep one eye on the little ones in den.
Outdoor living spaces
This has become a priority with many homeowners in recent years. After all, one’s living experience shouldn’t be confined to the inside of the house. Depending on climate–especially areas that have warm to mild year-round temperatures—outdoor spaces present a way to extend the living experience. “The outside has truly become a gathering place for friends and families who like to entertain,” says Chuck Tripp of Donald A. Gardner Architects. “Outdoor spaces are also ideal for individuals who simply want to enjoy a good book, a sunset, or a little quiet time.”
Maximizing square footage
Families today are getting creative doing more with the space they have. It’s no longer necessary to buy bigger home plans if you follow a few fundamental rules that allow you to free up space. For instance, losing long hallways and walls between rooms creates a more open floor plan that breathes and feels larger. Also, building vertically—not just horizontally—is a creative ways to “add space” between the furniture and the ceiling, especially by adding book cases or hanging objects.
Consumers and builders alike are becoming more energy efficient. Not only is it more beneficial to the environment, it saves homeowners money each month on the energy bill. Some options to consider are: tankless water heaters, low-flow toilets, using reclaimed wood and building materials, solar heating panels, and CFL smart lighting.
A few decades ago, traditional wood fireplaces were a purely functional feature that provided heat and comfort for homes. Today, though they still provide heat and comfort, they have become a distinctive design feature that elevates the ambiance of a room, both inside and out. Homeowners are now creating great rooms, dens, dining rooms, and even bedrooms, in which the fireplace is the centerpiece. Outside fireplaces are also quite popular, as homeowners are extending their living experience beyond their home’s interior.
Again, like the traditional fireplace, kitchens once served a purely functional purpose. That’s a far cry from what the modern kitchen has evolved into. Kitchens nowadays are often the social hub of the home, where friends, family, and guests gather to share stories, drink wine, and socialize. Homeowners have seemingly limitless options to choose from today, including a wide spectrum of materials for customizing countertops, floors, cabinets/shelves, windows, doors, and cooking stations.