Now is the time for almost every homeowner.
Story by Tracy Dickinson
Featured in February/March 2020
In the 1950s every home had a formal living room and dining room. By the 1970s the family room had made its appearance. As the 1990s wound down, the popularity of formal living and dining spaces began to decline as well. So what can we expect in home plans in the roaring ’20s we’ve just entered?
According to Kevin Riesberg of Plum Design Services and Amy Larsen of Beisser, home plans are a reflection of larger trends. Here are a few examples.
A New Twist on Traditional
“Home plans are a mix of styles,” says Riesberg. “Exterior elevations tend to be Craftsman style or more traditional, but interiors are more modern.”
Larsen describes exteriors as “modern Farmhouse.” “The open concept is still a huge demand” for interiors, she says. Instead of a traditional Farmhouse or Craftsman floor plan, layouts are open, with kitchens and living areas flowing seamlessly from one space to the next.
“We still see clients who want a dining area, but rarely a formal dining room. Offices are also rare, unless it’s a pocket office,” Riesberg says.
As families’ lives have grown busier, formal occasions are less common. But casual entertaining is a frequent activity, and the open layout suits that lifestyle. Technology has made telecommuting a growing trend. That same technology makes it possible to work from any room in the house—or outside it, eliminating the need for a separate home office.
Convenience with Style
Changes in floor plans may be motivated by convenience, but homeowners don’t want to sacrifice style to get it.
Because the kitchen has truly become the gathering place for families, kitchen design has changed as well. Appliances with the capacity to feed and cook for a crowd, space for everyone to mingle, and a clean, uncluttered space to do it are features of the modern kitchen.
“Another feature, especially in custom homes, is walk-in pantries. Another trend is open shelving instead of upper cabinets, and that’s easier to do when you have a walk-in pantry to store everything,” Riesberg says.
Master suites are also benefiting from this new attitude toward design. “They’re not just functional,” says Larsen. “Master bathrooms are more of a retreat, and master suites are often set apart from the other bedrooms.”
Even laundry rooms have undergone a transformation, she says. “They’re not just utilitarian. Laundry rooms in today’s plans are multifaceted and often function as a complete organizational area. Sometimes they are combined with the mudroom. Sometimes homeowners want two separate rooms, but they’re fully designed spaces, not just an afterthought.”
The vertical design of the home has changed in recent years, as well.
“Ranches are the still main focus that we are seeing, although there’s some interest for two-story homes. With either one, the focus is well-designed, efficient plans that have a good use of space. And most have huge garages,” Larsen says.
Riesberg says, “Ranches are certainly more common. When we do have a two-story plan, it’s usually to add square footage without expanding the footprint. So we go vertical instead.”
Quality over Quantity
Large or small, ranch or two-story, today’s homes are less about total square footage and more about useful square footage and about the details that go into it.
“We’re seeing stylistic details that weren’t available a few years ago, from black windows that add a different character to a home to clean lines in every element for a sleek, modern look,” says Riesberg.
For example, built-ins, like large fireplace surrounds, are much less common. Today’s plans offer a simple mantel and typically a gas fireplace that doesn’t dominate the wall.
“Lot prices may have some influence on the size of homes being built today,” Riesberg notes. “In order to stay within budget, homeowners are having to cut back on the square footage. But they don’t want to cut back on amenities.”
“We also get a lot of requests for designs that will allow our clients to stay in their homes longer,” says Larsen. “Clients are looking for adaptable designs that allow aging in place. And even smaller homes are being designed with larger gathering spaces so homeowners can entertain easily and have family get-togethers.”
A new decade always brings changes, and that’s also true of home plans. But the design principles behind those plans remain the same: creating a space that looks, and feels, like home for the family that will live in it. •
- Kevin Riesberg Plum Design Services
- Amy Larsen Beisser