Home Trends are Moving Toward Upsized Homes on Downsized Lots

Back Yard Patio PhotoHome trends are moving toward upsized homes on downsized lots. With more Americans showing preferences for bigger homes once again, even if it means squeezing the home on a small lot, according to the first quarter Institute of Architects’ Home Design Trends Survey. The most recent survey focused on home layout and the use of interior and exterior spaces.

During the recession, more Americans showed a preference for smaller homes, setting off speculation that the downsizing trend could be a lasting one as more Americans searched for less upkeep and lower utility bills. But since 2010, the number of Americans showing a preference for larger homes has gradually been on the rise, architects report. Home volumes are increasing, with ceiling heights and two-story entryways making a comeback, according to the AIA survey.

Despite strained lot sizes, more Americans are wanting to invest in larger homes and in more outdoor amenities in trying to blend their indoor and outdoor spaces.

Kermit Baker, AIA chief economist, speculates that lot sizes haven’t increased along with the desire for larger homes because Americans are still looking for ways to keep homes affordable. The trend may also be a reflection of location preferences too (with home owners opting for smaller developments in more desirable locations).

“Because lot sizes don’t show any signs of increasing, it’s clear that home owners want to maximize their current square footage to its highest potential. … Smaller lots have not kept households from investing heavily in [outdoor] space,” Baker writes. “Creating outdoor living space — outdoor rooms, covered outdoor space, as well as more traditional decks, patios, and porches — continue to be the property enhancement growing the most in popularity.”

More households are looking to add space inside their homes too, with an increase this year in more home owners finishing attics and basements for added living space, the survey notes. More Americans are continuing to show a stronger demand for flexible layouts, with open space plans. Designs are gravitating toward more open space layouts, with partial wall divisions that allow more flexible use of space, Baker notes, as well as a trend for greater sense of informality in the home.

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