Home design in the age of Transformers
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
In homes large or small, homeowners are looking to do more with the space they have. That's the message coming out of the latest round of industry news on home building trends.
Whether to maximize available space, get rid of clutter or increase functionality, today's consumers want their homes to be easily adaptable and multifunctional. Builders and designers are responding with ingenious solutions, creating spaces that shift and morph — like Transformers.
According to an article on the hottest green home trends for 2015 in Landings, a magazine that serves the real estate and building community in the Greater Kansas City Area, the most popular home transformer is the flex room — a space designed to easily convert from one functional purpose to another.
This could be a home office with a Murphy bed that converts into a guest room or a living area with an adjoining bathroom that later serves as a first-floor bedroom for an aging parent. Or, states the article, "it might mean that a magnificent tiled entryway is also the formal dining room, or a cozy sitting area."
Unlike more traditional rooms that are later remodeled to suit another purpose, flex rooms are designed from the start to function in different ways as needs change over time.
Allied with the flex room is the outdoor living area. Residential architects responding to the most recent AIA Home Design Trends Survey report a growing interest in outdoor living spaces. Among special-function rooms, which increasingly are designed to be multifunctional, outdoor living areas top the list of the most popular, ahead of home offices.
In reviewing entries for this year's Builder's Choice and Custom Home Design Awards, jurors noted an increase in projects featuring outdoor living areas, even in cold climates. Homeowners want to bring the outdoors indoors and to expand their living area.
Transformer solutions include pool areas that second as entertainment centers after dark and using retractable walls to open up the back of the home completely to the outside. The jurors also saw more instances of rooftop use, especially in smaller projects where the trend is to compensate for a smaller footprint by making more use of vertical space.
Some of the most creative transformer solutions address the need to maximize available space. According to the Landings article, "Consumers don't just want a quirky shaped storage space under the stairs, they want that space to convert into something really usable and able to be showed off ... like drawers in stairs, usable landings, and computer stations that pull out from small, unused spaces, and storage lofts in garages."
In its forecast of 2015 residential architectural design trends, paint manufacturer Dunn Edwards notes that consumers, especially those in smaller spaces, want to maintain a clean, uncluttered look and are searching for ways to reinvent storage.
Among the more innovative Transformer solutions they cite are a pulley system that allows the family's bicycles to be stored between the two upper bathrooms in an area that also serves as a light-diffusing atrium and a staircase that functions as a library, with bookcases, reading nooks and cinema seating oriented toward a projection area.
Transformer solutions are not new, but they have taken on new importance in today's gadget-obsessed culture. The high-tech industry has accustomed consumers to expect products that combine innovative engineering with elegant design to address multiple needs. Now they want their homes to follow suit.
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