KIM COOPER: The changing landscape of real estate wants

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Just a short time ago, it seemed everyone wanted an open floor plan. Now, it seems that some segregated areas are desired over that trend. Open floor plans, which typically combine the kitchen, living room and dining room in one large, open area, have dominated home design trends in recent years. But now, buyers may be starting to shun this type of layout. According to a recent article in the The Wall Street Journal:

“While [the open floor plan] was successful in allowing multiple generations to congregate, it also led to consolidated visual chaos,” New York-based designer Phillip Thomas told the Journal. Some designers say the “helicopter” parenting style — parents seeking to keep a more watchful eye over their children — may have led to the open floor plan’s popularity. But some parents may find they need more personal space. In the 1960s and ’70s, long before helicoptering emerged as a parenting style, adults had far less interest in looming over their children, frequently urging them to go play outside or downstairs. The netherworld to which these parents pointed was

usually a recreation room or finished basement, clad insipidly in wood-veneer paneling. More people are opting for floor plans that offer an escape from busy family life and some are designing special living spaces on a second story.”

The Journal reports in another story that living rooms are moving upstairs; “Upper-level living rooms — sometimes labeled “pajama lounges” — are usually located right off bedrooms. They may include comfy sofas, a kitchenette, a television, and even a nook to work from. Architects are removing long hallway spaces upstairs to make room for these central living spaces upstairs. The lounge area is intended for “the bedrooms [to] spill out, and the family can have a space to assemble,” says Kobi Karp, an architect in Miami who recently designed an upper-level living room in one of his projects. “It’s where you go on a Sunday morning and wait for the rest of the house to wake up.”

Upper-level living rooms tend to be more casual than their lower counterparts. They also tend to have recessed lighting instead of chandeliers and favor cozier seating areas over larger sectionals, Donna Mondi, a Chicago-based interior designer, told The Wall Street Journal. Mondi also says it’s not as important for the style of these spaces to match the rest of the home, either. “Because it’s not part of the main area, all bets are off — you can do what you want with it,” says Mondi.

“After living in [an open floor] situation, [owners] realized that it’s nice to have the big open spaces, but also a little bit annoying,” Hildebrand says. “Now there’s a bit more compartmentalizing.”

In the last decade we saw a movement of buyers into urban areas. Although this trend continues, buyers are now wanting more yard, not less. With modern conveniences available out of doors, some buyers are attracted to outdoor kitchens and living rooms complete with fireplaces and televisions. Many say that a buffer between neighbors is important to them and they are willing to spend $10,000-15,000 for the extra room. More than half of 1,000 buyers recently surveyed — or 56 percent — said they’d be willing to sacrifice square footage in a home for a great outdoor space. The survey was conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of Taylor Morrison, a national home builder.

Tell your Realtor up front what appeals to you in a home. You’ll save a lot of time and frustration when you lay out your criteria early.

Trust an expert…call a Realtor. Call your Realtor or visit www.cdarealtors.com to search properties on the Multiple Listing Service or to find a Realtor member who will represent your best interests.

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Kim Cooper is a real estate broker and the spokesman for the Coeur d’Alene Association of Realtors. Kim and the association invite your feedback and input for this column. You may contact them by writing to the Coeur d’Alene Association of Realtors, 409 W. Neider, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83815 or by calling (208) 667-0664.

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