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Lifestyle trends shape ‘must-haves’ in new homes

Home design is constantly evolving as our society changes. In today’s plugged-in world, homeowners are looking for a place to unwind and spend time with family and friends. And an increasingly aging population is also influencing how homes are designed.

Here are some trends in new homes today:

KITCHEN CENTRAL: Today’s home designs are all about casual living. Gone are formal living rooms. Instead, the kitchen has become the heart of the home. Kitchens and their surrounding gathering spaces are being given maximum real estate by home designers. Dining rooms have become nonessential, as kitchens expand and absorb family seating areas.

GETTING OUTSIDE: The other increasingly popular place for the family to hang out is outside. Outdoor living areas – often with fireplaces or fire pits, sofas and televisions – are becoming more and more essential in home design. The line between indoors and outdoors is becoming more blurred through the use of stacking or accordion-style glass doors that can turn a wall into an open space.

FLEXIBLE SPACE: Look for more areas in the home that don’t have a dedicated purpose. That extra room could become a suite for an aging relative or a quiet office for a family member working from home. Flex rooms can be easily transformed from one purpose or another without costly renovations.

HEALTHY LIVING: Green building is going mainstream. As homebuyers are becoming more aware of indoor environmental hazards, the trend is toward healthy paints, high-efficiency heating and air-conditioning units and the use of natural materials. Natural materials are also becoming popular as an antidote to technology.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY: Government mandates as well as homeowner demands are spurring the increase of a new home’s efficiency. Solar power, better insulation and windows with increased thermal performance will continue to become features.

Water conservation is also becoming more and more important, and gray-water technologies are emerging that allow for some recycled water to be used for irrigation.

AGING IN PLACE: America’s aging population is also influencing home design. Older residents are looking for smaller, single-story homes that are easily navigable. As more and more baby boomers are turning 65, universal design is becoming increasingly important.

Homes continue to evolve with high-tech innovations. And homebuilders continue to find a balance between our desire to be plugged in and our need to unplug.