New Home Remodeling Trends for 2012 and Beyond

The economic cold has shifted the home remodeling market from the extravagant and excessive to the practical and moderate. Homeowners used to demand grand foyer entrances and niches for displaying sculptural artwork. Now they are settling for spaces designed to accommodate sports equipment, schoolwork, or computers. Value and need are now driving the housing market and can be seen in the following home remodeling trends.

Drop Zones/ Mud Rooms - Most families enter and exit their homes through the garage so a mud room serves as a drop zone for "decluttering". These rooms are often small, sometimes only 10'x10' and can be combined with the laundry room. A drop zone contains cubbies for mail, hooks for backpacks, or a closet for winter clothing. This makes it easy for a family to keep organized during times of the days when kids are getting ready for school, when it's time to do homework, or a place to keep bills in line.

Open Family Rooms - A popular home trend for many years was the formal living room. This was often a room that was used very little, maybe just for the holidays if at all. Now homeowners view the formal living room as wasted space. The functional response is to create an open family room. An open family room will typically combine the kitchen, living room, and dining room. Spaces are often separated with furniture instead of walls. One room instead of many also has a positive effect on energy consumption, requiring less heat or A/C.

Lifestyle Center - Computers have become a household item, and it's not uncommon to place one in the kitchen. A lifestyle center is a place for kids to do homework, while mom or dad can make sure they aren't playing on the internet. It can also be used as a place to work from home and pay bills. Combing these functions into one area adjacent the kitchen, reduces the need for a formal office.

Large/Steam Showers - Soaking tubs used to be a must have for homeowners remodeling their bathroom. However, this was mainly a decorative piece for show and rarely used. Homeowners remodeling their bathroom now focus their budget on a larger and more comfortable shower. Steam showers have risen in popularity because they can be justified for their therapeutic effects. In addition to making a shower more comfortable, it's also common to see a shower with large benches and handle grip bars, making it easier for elderly to shower. This is a sign that more families are moving in together and may need to make accommodations for grandparents.

Outdoor Living Spaces - Builders are increasingly adding patio sliding doors with access to an outdoor patio. This creates an indoor/outdoor space that can make the house feel larger and serve as a secondary dining room. This can come in handy if the house is feeling a bit over crowded, especially in the great room where everyone congregates during peak hours.

At face value, these trends seem like a downgrade from the lavish lifestyles during the economic boom of the mid 2000s, but the recent downturn has forced all of us to reassess what is necessary and what is not.

A reassessment of values have created energy efficient homes that use less heat in the winter and A/C in the summer; open family rooms with enough space for generations of family to congregate; rooms that accommodate grandparents that might otherwise only visit during the holidays. Homes may appear to be downgrading in response to a harsh economic climate, but the recent remodeling trends show homes with an emphasis on family. Value and need have been driving the housing market, and would seem homeowners are finding value and need in family.

Rob Pankow is the owner of Pankow Construction, a leading Phoenix Home Remodeling Contractor. Pankow Construction has completed over 100 home remodeling projects around the Phoenix Valley since its inception in 2000.