AIA: Interest in kitchens, baths points way to recovery
An increasing proportion of homebuyers want more out of their kitchens, with computer areas and recharging stations, better integration with family space, and recycling centers ranking at the top of the list, the American Institute of Architects says.
Reporting on results of a fourth-quarter Home Design Trends Survey, AIA chief economist Kermit Baker writes that both kitchens and bathrooms are getting more attention from buyers, which he called “one of the first tangible expressions” of a turnaround in the building industry.
The” index score” of architects reporting an increase in interest in computer work areas and recharging stations for electronic devices rose from 43% in the fourth quarter of last year to 47% in the same period in 2012. The AIA defines the “index score” as the percentage of respondents reporting popularity is increasing minus the percentage reporting interest decreasing.
There also was greater interest in adapability and universal design, and upper-end appliances, but less interest in renewable countertop materials, drinking water filtration and larger pantries when compared with 2011 numbers.
“Kitchens have reclaimed their place as the true focal point of the home,” Baker writes, “with a growing emphasis on utilizing more technology. There has also been renewed interest in integrating more household activities into this space.”
Top bathroom feature: Lighting
In the bathroom, LED lighting was the most popular feature with an index score of 68%, followed by doorless showers, and accessibility and universal design. Water-saving toilets, dual-flush toilets, radiant-heated floor, and upscale specialty showers all showed declines in interest between 2011 and 2012.
Overall, firms in the South and West report the healthiest business conditions. “These regions were generally the most overbuilt during the last upturn,” Baker says, “and therefore often saw the steepest declines after the market crash. However, as the national economy continues to recover, a disproportionare share of building acitivty is located in these Sunbelt regions.”
The AIA Home Design Trend Survey is conducted quarterly with a panel of more than 500 architectural firms that concentrate on residential projects, the AIA said.
View the kitchens and bath projects submitted for our annual Kitchen & Baths issue.