Three generations of home buyers with very different lifestyles, preferences and values are driving four distinctive trends in today’s new home design. Baby boomers, Generation Xers and millennials each have very specific objectives for how their living space should function based on what period they’re at in their lives.
Right-sized floor plans appeal to all three generations for simple, easy living.
Baby boomers, Gen Xers and millennials do agree on one major design trend: smaller homes with less maintenance. They desire an open floor plan where one space flows naturally into another, from living to dining to entertaining, and even outdoor living space. Baby boomers seek to downsize with all of their living space on one level as an age-in-place option. Millenials also want a simple, open floor plan – and are very attracted to the notion of a “tiny home” – while not sacrificing any modern amenities.
According to a recent study conducted by HousingEconomics.com, millennials are increasingly placing an emphasis on having amenities that make a statement in their home, such as wine and coffee bars, large central kitchen islands with ranges, built-in kitchen seating, exercise rooms and smart technology.
All three generations agree on ensuring that their new homes are designed to be environmentally friendly and energy efficient.
Generational electronic media preference influences the entertainment space.
“There are noticeable generational differences when it comes to entertaining spaces and electronics,” said Paul Foresman, head of business development for Design Basics of Omaha, Nebraska. “Baby boomers may be less likely to focus their entertaining around electronic media with separate space designated as media rooms. In many home designs of Gen X, you often see the floor plan revolves around a large-screen TV that can be viewed from any seat in the house. Finally, millennials tend to design their entertaining and living spaces around media and electronics along with incorporating smart technology in the home,” he explained.
For millennials, technology friendly spaces are critical with easily accessible outlets and charging stations. They also prefer a smart-automated home where they can control all of their electronics, heat, electricity and lights with one swipe on their mobile phone.
Dual owner’s suites surge in popularity, for different reasons. “While baby boomers are fueling the surge in home designs with dual owner’s suites for elderly parents or caretakers, millennials are seeking the same configuration to accommodate parents, roommates or a home-based business,” explained Foresman.
He also acknowledged that for millennials, considerable thought is being given to where the dual owner’s suite is located to provide privacy from the rest of the home when clients and colleagues visit. The second owner’s suite may be located, for example, on the opposite side of the main floor from the master suite and main living space or in a walk-out basement for easy access.
Well-planned storage space is non-negotiable across all three generations.
According to Foresman, they’ve never designed a home with too much storage space. “It’s a ‘must-have’ across all three generations of home buyers,” he said. “Larger walk-in pantries, for example, address storage needs more cost-effectively than expensive kitchen cabinetry. Garages too have increased in size in recent years to help solve long-term storage needs.”
The House Plan Company, a residential plan marketing company based in Oregon, features a wide selection of house plans designed with all of these generational trends in mind. The modern farmhouse plan Telluride Gable (#80041), for example, is a compact home with an open floor plan at just under 1,600 square feet. The main living area features a spacious kitchen, dining area and great room – all three spaces flowing seamlessly one into another. Designed for gathering and entertaining, the kitchen offers a central island with modern appliances and a walk-in pantry for plenty of storage. A “drop zone” in the combined mud room/laundry room offers additional storage. On the upper level, a second master suite with a private bathroom and walk-in closet can be used as office space or for elderly parents or a caretaker.