Smaller homes, smarter design

Illinois REALTOR® Magazine talked with several Illinois homebuilders about home design trends going forward as the economy recovers from a slump that essentially stalled the new-home market over the last few years. There was consensus among builders that consumers are asking for smaller homes but do not want to scrimp on storage or the finer details such as crown molding, granite countertops, stainless appliances and high-end fixtures.

In the April digital edition of Illinois REALTOR® Magazine you can link to a photo show of some of the design features mentioned by these REALTOR®-recommended builders. And here are a few comments that didn’t make the cut for the one-page story due to space limitations.

  • “Designs are smaller but nicely detailed with woodwork, chair rails at a minimum, wainscoting in the dining room, bigger millwork around windows, solid-core doors, and fancy cabinets to the ceiling, using all the space available. We are incorporating well thought-out storage places: rooms that serve more than one function such as a study that is converted to a bedroom, larger walk-in pantries so that people can store all the good deals they get at Sam’s Club and Costco.” – Jeff Mitchell of Mitchell Development, Lindenhurst.
  • “The green movement is renewing interest in using reclaimed flooring and cabinets, using old materials in a new house or a remodeling project so the overall feel of the home is older with newer amenities. One project used 100-year-old barn wood for the cabinets and reused panes of glass to make the doors. If I get the product from a barn in Wisconsin, in theory, it is more green than buying flooring from Texas and shipping it all this way.” – REALTOR® Michael Malham, Vintage Visions, Ltd., Barrington
  • “The new construction projects are much smaller square footage with smartly designed spaces that are personal to occupants. In the past we’ve seen enormous bathroom spaces with a lot of amenities along the walls where now we are seeing smaller spaces with design trends towards aging in place such as curbless showers (no separation between the floor and the shower) to allow for a chair.”  –REALTOR® Kristen Brogan, Prudential Starck REALTORS® in Mt. Prospect, and president of Brogan Development
  • “People still want a high-end designer look and amenities while they are downsizing. For years I have been building 3,500- to 4,500-square-foot, two-story homes with the master suite and closet and people will still want these features but they will be down-sized to fit on one floor in 2,800 square feet.” – Steve Mueller, Mark I Construction, Crystal Lake

According to the National Association of Home Builders, the average size of a new home that was completed in 2009 fell to 2,480 square feet from 2,520 square feet in 2008. The last time the average completed-home size fell by a statistically significant amount was 1982.

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