The American Institute of Architects' (AIA) 2011 second quarter Home Design Trends survey shows stability in the residential market, but not the recovery predicted after an encouraging first quarter. High-end and custom homes are still faring best among new construction projects, while first-time home buyers remain timid. What has changed in the luxury and high-end sector is that specialty rooms and additions, as well as high-end features within a home, are mostly declining. The exception to that trend is a strong rise in home offices and an equally impressive number of requests for outdoor living. Remodeling and additions, a persistently strong segment of the residential market, continues to show moderate gains thanks to clients looking for accessible spaces, energy efficiency, and home technology upgrades.
"Demand for home offices for telecommuting remains strong," says Baker, adding that "trends toward informal lifestyles, as well as more home-centered activities, have helped maintain interest in outdoor living areas and mudrooms." Other requests still on the rise focus on accessibility and energy efficiency. Backing up those trends, the most requested products include those promoting energy-savings and management, as well as wireless communication systems. Seventy percent of respondents saw requests for simple green upgrades such as alternative or additional insulation grow over the past three months. With regard to accessibility, the most desired items include first-floor master suites, open showers with no floor level changes, ADA-compliant faucets and door handles, and ramps or elevators.