Monday, May 25

Changing Times, Changing Home Improvement Wish Lists

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Remember when the living room was a shrine to plastic-wrapped furniture in a land where no one was allowed, especially the kids? That’s a concept that’s gone the way of the Tiffany lamp, boxy rooms and matchy-matchy window valances.

In the past 20 years, it’s been all about the open-concept floor plan, entertaining in the roomier and more casual environs of the kitchen and installing built-in ceiling lights.

“More recently, for about the last 10 to 15 years, people have really wanted two things with their homes: They want it to keep up with HGTV and be as nice as the vacation resorts they go to,” says master certified remodeler Dennis Gehman, owner and founder of Harleysville, Pennsylvania-based Gehman Design Remodeling and treasurer of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

One factor that may be driving these twin aspirations is that, in general, people are staying in the home longer.

“People have to reinvent their home,” says Jessica Lautz, vice president of demographics and behavioral insights at the National Association of Realtors. “They’re living in it in a different way. They’ve had kids; now they’re empty-nesters or have aging parents moving in with them.

“As family dynamics change, people aren’t necessarily moving but changing their own space to accommodate how they’re living.”

Reinforcing this theme is a growing demand for floor plans that have dual owner suites for multigenerational living, replacement tubs with the biggest shower possible (and one with multiple jets), attic conversions to create livable space as opposed to just storage and nice bars added to finished basements.

Outdoor living also has become popular. Tim Ellis, president of T.W. Ellis Design/Build/Remodel in Forest Hills, Maryland, and the 2019 remodelers chair for the National Association of Home Builders, calls it the “staycation factor.”

“In the 1980s, it was a 16-by-12-foot deck with a grill,” he says. “Now there is a lot more focus on the outdoor space and how it’s used because people are using it more often. People want a big deck or patio with an outdoor kitchen and nice grill area, and we’re seeing these projects get a lot bigger.”


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About Author

Kathy Witt

Kathryn Witt is an award-winning travel and lifestyle writer whose travels take her all over the world to share its stories. Favorite sights include the glaciers of Alaska; fjords of Norway; castles of Russia; and the small towns of America.

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