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  The Herman Trend Alert

March 21, 2001

New Home Design Will Reflect Changing Lifestyles

Some interesting changes are underway in the design of upscale homes. Similar changes will be seen in lower-priced homes as lifestyles influence design. Practical aspects of modified living patterns will cause some of these designs; others will be guided by a desire for something different, something special.

With increasing emphasis on learning, more homes will include libraries. In many cases, the libraries will be better described as learning rooms, with plenty of media features. In addition to shelves for books, furnishings will include computers and printers, video monitors (flat screens on walls), DVD players, and surround sound. Living rooms and sitting rooms will disappear, as people prefer more active interpersonal communication.

Large kitchens and bathrooms will be popular as homes become more like secure resort environments. The large kitchens will be used for entertainment, as well as a sort of family gathering place, a family activity place. Eating areas will be part of this space, along with some facilities for playing games as a family. Larger bathrooms will accommodate showers, tubs, saunas, and exercise areas-with media equipment.

With more homes being built for people in their fifties, who intend to grow older gracefully, we will see bedrooms on ground floors, ramps built into designs, elevators, and doorways wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs. Low maintenance materials such as stainless steel and natural stone will be popular.

High ceilings and larger windows will contribute to a sense of spaciousness, with architectural designs taking security into consideration. Windows and doors will be designed to be functional, but to limit access by unwanted intruders.

Extra space, commonly known as a mother-in-law apartment, will be more popular. In some cases, older relatives will occupy the space. In other situations, the space will be used for an office for a home-based business or for telecommuting. Some homes will be built with more than one home office or mini-apartment, recognizing the need for simultaneous multiple uses.

Technology will be important, including solar panels to help manage energy. Fiber optic cables, local area networks for computers, and other systems to support modern living will be more common.

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