Media rooms lose out to home offices and sustainability in popularity stakes

October 12, 2009

A US report shows specialist media rooms are now less important to homeowners than home offices and energy efficiency.

A study by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has discovered that homeowners are losing interest in media rooms, and instead looking for homes that offer a home office space.

The economic downturn, which has been affecting the US residential market since 2006, has meant that homeowners are choosing to live in smaller houses with fewer specialist features, while still prioritising energy efficiency.

The findings are from the American Institute of Architects’ Home Design Trends Survey, for the second quarter of 2009. Around 500 residential architects were surveyed on emerging design preferences of households, covering new homes and improvements on existing residential properties.

The study found that, when it comes to ‘special features’, home offices are the most popular choice, with homeowners losing interest in home theatres, guest wings and large three-car garages. The average house size has dropped, and the decreasing popularity of these specialist rooms is likely to be connected to this fall.

The growing popularity of home offices is tied in with the number of people opting to work from home rather than commuting to work, and those who are self-employed. Forty six percent of architects said that home offices are a popular option for homeowners.

The AIA report explains that households are ‘not merely down-scaling their housing choices, but seeking features that they desire in the evolving economic environment’. With fewer requests for specialist rooms, architects will have more flexibility when it comes to designing living spaces.

The report also found a continued overall interest in energy efficient products and systems, despite the economic downturn. The AIA believes this shows that homeowners place a higher value on sustainability compared with upscale, specialist rooms – saying that the most requested feature is energy efficiency. Two-thirds of architects said that alternative home insulation techniques and extra insulation in the attic is increasing in popularity.

The lower end of the market for residential properties was likely to be the first to recover, the report said, with affordable housing scores still negative but recovering the fastest compared with luxury homes, holiday houses and second homes.

For the full report, go to the ["AIA website":]
Image courtesy Terretta

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