4 Home Trend-Part 2-2011 and Beyond

4 Home Trend-Part 2-2011 and Beyond

We are entering a time where collaboration, innovation and inspiration are key in creating our future lifestyle.  It’s time to take a look at how we really live and begin to change the housing industry to support us.   Part 1 of this report dealt with soft trends, or trends for decorating our interiors.  This part takes a look at the larger view of trends in the way we will be living as we move forward in this 21st century.

Here are the top 4 trends as I see them:

1. Rightsizing: The buzz word is downsizing, I prefer to call it right sizing.  For some, in fact, it is going smaller.  The baby boomers are now empty nesters who are getting older and want to live  an easier quality of life.  They are in fact down sizing, whether it’s a smaller home or fewer of them; along with a core group of young first time homebuyers who’s sensibility is to live a simpler way of life.

For others, there is a desire to create a space that flows the way they really live their life and truly fits their needs, not some cookie cutter McMansion created by a developer as a business investment.  I call this right sizing and it is part of the Slow Home movement. Some signs of this are:   

  • Square footage is down in home purchases
  • children are being home schooled so need a study space
  • more people are working out of their home and need a work space
  • retirement communities are on the rise.
  • the vrbo business is growing as people sell off second or third homes
  • Grown children are moving home once again, along with aging parents (see more on this below)

2. Re-Purposing: As part of repurposing we will see old industrial parts being used in interiors as a design element (see Part 1), as well as in architecture.  One architect who has come to my attention in the last few years is Tom Kundig from Olson Kundig Architect firm up in Spokane, Washington.  His use of old industrial parts is pure genius.  From old metal tubes to pulley systems that do everything from open up walls to lower and then hide away lighting fixtures and even TV’s.

Softer examples of re-purposing are:

  • to take rooms that are no longer used as titled and use them for something you really need. For example-formal dining rooms turn into libraries or craft rooms; master bedrooms where you spend 90% of your time sleeping and which are often the second largest room in the house and the lightest are turn it into a home office where you spend 80% of your waking time.
  • turning a pool house into a mother-in-law’s apartment
  • turning the 4th bedroom into a master bath and walk in closet to the master bedroom
  • re-upholtering antique furniture or family heirlooms to make them part of your tradition

Remodeling or Renovation in general is a way to re-purpose a space

  • renovation of an existing home so that it flows and works to support the way you really live
  • renovation of kitchens and bathrooms to update and yes, they still can add value to your home
  • renovation of large buildings for the good of a community is another form of repurposing…such as the renovation of some of the pier buildings here in San Francisco for the Americas Cup, or the rehab of an old insane asylum in Göteborg, Sweden, turning it into a full fledged community with living space, retail and entertainment space, and complete gym.  All positive repurposing projects.

3. Renewed interest in Urban Living and Community: There has been a resurgence in urban living in general, but economic realities like high foreclosure rates, increased commuting time and overall living costs are key drivers in altering our housing needs.  There is also more interest in things like front porches and town squares, as people look to connect with their neighbors and become more involved with the people in their community.  And lastly, urban living supports lower-maintenance homes which feed into the elderly’s wish for ease as they age. While American’s in general do not live well together, there is an increase in, and desire for planned communities such as the fabulous Serenbe Community in Georgia, along with several co-housing models, some of which are built by the owners and are aimed at low income households.

Multigenerational housing is also becoming more popular.  This is reflective of the growing numbers of immigrant households where multigenerational living is the norm. Additionally, the housing and economic downturn has created the need for more multigenerational households due to-many college grads unable to find jobs, and therefore returning home, and elderly parents who can no longer afford nursing or assisted living and who are moving in with their children.  This is spawning an interest in multiple master bedroom suites which offer a feeling of privacy for family members.

4. Design enters the field of Sustainability: From young people to old, and in our personal environment to our natural one, we continue to look for ways to sustain our selves and our environment. This affects our living style in several ways including the advent of  design in the field of sustainability.  The Future Evolution House, located in Austria, is a prime example of this concept:

  • well designed form
  • the idea of several modules that comprise our home
  • communal living space is the hub of the house with the kitchen as the center; providing a place for family and friends to share meals as a social and community experience, not just as a nutritional need.
  • the office/work/creative space
  • the sleeping module
  • Kitchens as media hubs, bathrooms as lounges
  • combine energy efficiency with smart modern design
  • the trend is moving away from passive houses to active houses (i.e. producing more energy than they use)
  • Smart NOT complicated technology

Environmentally friendly technology should be both practical and attractive, giving it it’s own aesthetic form.  We must bring fun, pleasure and sensuality to environmental issues.  If it’s only about doing without, people won’t join in. Matthias Horx

What changes are you experiencing in your lives that would substantiate these trends?  Are there any other major areas of change that you can see affecting the housing industry?  Leave a comment below, I’d love to know what you think!




  1. Judy Stone-Goldman 11 years ago

    These are all really interesting and relevant to me. At some point we definitely will leave our house for something smaller–we needed this originally to accommodate different kids potentially living here. That is no longer the case, but there’s so much we like about our house, we are staying put. But at some point the maintenance (and maybe the stairs) will be too much. We also have spaces that can be repurposed. We talk about remodeling the kitchen, but we dread the thought!

    Judy Stone-Goldman
    The Reflective Writer

    • Author
      Irene Turner 11 years ago

      Judy, if you get the right contractor and some help with design, plus fast track the project…meaning everything is in and stored before you start, it can be much easier! Promise

  2. Darcie Newton 11 years ago

    Great points. As someone who is very interested in real estate trends this is incredibly important to keep in mind. I light the term ‘right-sizing’ too…it illuminates the negative connotation that ‘down-sizing’ carries.

    Darcie Newton
    Wine, not whine. Nature not Nurture. Disciplined for profit, none for cheese.

  3. KathyAlice 11 years ago

    One thing to consider is the impact of the cost of transport will have on housing trends. Will the cost of oil go up as it gets more scarce? Many people think so. Will this lead to abandonment of the suburbs and more urban infill as you touched on? Here in the Bay Area one interesting trend is that in inner Bay Area did not suffer as much in the downturn as the out lying areas. Co-opt housing is another interesting trend – like the Austria project. Interesting read.

  4. Jennifer Duchene 11 years ago

    I love reading trends Irene, and enjoyed your share. Being in the design business, we are constantly seeing shifts, in how people behave. All the trends you mention are definitely on the rise, but more than that I see a society moving to change the way they live. Smaller tighter more localized living, mimicking the “old days”the old ways. The human element has been scaled down, to meet all the needs we have pretended for so long did not exist. Real life happens on the town square. Finally we see people appreciating the European model, again. Eating what is grown in our own communities. Taking care of people in our own areas. Building places that support and inspire our neighbors. Artists and artisans are getting their due.
    These are not just interesting times, they are life giving moments. Lets celebrate with a slow feast!

    Jennifer Duchene
    Home Makeover Mixtress blending lifestyle and laughter

    • Author
      Irene Turner 11 years ago

      Absolutely Jen! Hence the book on designing Slow Home! I’m always so excited to talk to a contemporary who “get’s it”!

  5. Rachel Blaufeld 11 years ago

    I like the way you take something like downsizing which can be mundane and make it interesting.
    My mom is trying to downsize to single floor living, but cannot make the leap yet. She would like an old apartment building which I think would be isolated. I am urging her to do a pod type place in a community. We will see…I am going to share this with her.
    I also love the photos of mixing old industrial items into decor! Rachel

    • Author
      Irene Turner 11 years ago

      Actually Rachel, old buildings or high rises can be very easy to live in as an elderly person. Having lived in NYC and Chicago, I knew many more neighbors, and I mean neighbors, then I do here in the country. Plus, if it has an elevator, it’s easy to get in and out of. Everything you need can be within easy walking distance, taxi’s are available and there are many more hospitals. So, city living can be very easy for our elderly. Of course, as a designer I love the pod community living more, but I do get the city thing.

  6. Bill Browning 11 years ago

    Wow! I want one of each. Each of those concepts would play out really well in our lives and businesses as well as our home.

    I really like the sustainable model concept.

  7. Louise Edington 11 years ago

    Lovely post Irene. Right now we are in a huge house but it suits our lifestyle right now. We have turned the dining room into a music room though as we never use it as a dining room. I am, however, very interested in sustainable housing and when my children are grown and we ‘rightsize’ (love that rewording) I would love to move into a home that creates more energy than it uses. I also love to repurpose items and find the industrial repurposing very interesting. Very interesting – but so much in it, it would have made a great series!
    Louise Edington
    Facing Fears For Freedom

    • Author
      Irene Turner 11 years ago

      thanks Louise…it will be a series…of books! This is just the trend overview! and Part 2 at that.

  8. Debbie Goldberg 11 years ago

    Beautiful pictures. I love the idea of repurposing items/rooms to make them work for you. I am fascinated by the idea of these planned communities like the one you mentioned. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Tracey Fisher 11 years ago

    My mother just retired and purchased her dream home in South Carolina. Being an apartment dweller for most of her life, getting used to owning a home with all of the square footage that comes with it has been a challenge but one she has been more that willing to meet. My sister is the design person of the family and I am going to foward this to her. Thanks!


    • Author
      Irene Turner 11 years ago

      Thanks for sharing the info Tracey. I love that more people can see, obviously. Glad to hear that your mother is happy in her new space

  10. Brandy Mychals 11 years ago

    Hi Irene,
    Wow! I would say most of this wasn’t even on my radar…very interesting and way more knowledge on this topic than I was expecting. I like the picture of the guy rolling up his wall (way cool!) and the term “right sizing”…MUCH preferred to down sizing 🙂
    Brandy Mychals
    Communications Coach
    Creator of Split Second Perceptions

  11. Julie Labes 11 years ago

    Some super ideas and insights. Our kids will be leaving us soon, my son goes off to college in the fall and my daughter follow in 4 years. Right now we have an acre of land which was great when the kids were little. we will probably move to smaller quarters perhaps later in life. Not sure as we love where we love, so quiet and peaceful but a lot of upkeep. Perhaps we will just remodel what we have and stay put?

    Julie Labes the…Fierce over 50 feels much younger, point and click junkie, loves to travel, does not use a jogging stroller, and before you ask, this is NOT my granddaughter..Woman

  12. Rob Wallis 11 years ago

    Irene, your pics are always beautiful! I find it interesting that first time home buyers often complain about homes being too small, esp with the current trend of 3- and 4-bedroom homes on smaller lots.

    I’m guessing that they will right size as the kids grow up and out. 🙂

    Rob Wallis is The Marketing Outsider, a speaker, author, and consultant who helps business owners increase their profitability by improving their visibility. Contact him at The Wallis Group

    • Author
      Irene Turner 11 years ago

      Actually Rob, a lot of younger people are looking for a simpler way to live, as well as the cost of homes these days is a major factor in their decision. Those big homes (3-4 bedroom homes) are from the old McMasion trend from the 80’s and what we are going to do with all of them will be interesting to see for sure .

  13. Robbie Schlosser 11 years ago

    Hi Irene,

    What a fascinating post! I’ll keep a copy handy and re-read it frequently. So many trends and ideas meshing — great exercise for the wandering mind.

    Before moving to California, I’d lived in modest little nondescript boxes of homes and apartments. Now for the past 30+ years I’m living in a 50-year-old Eichler house, which when built was considered the home of the future. Now, perhaps, its time has come.

    My home resembles the last photo in your post, just before the video. You labeled it “Ansicht-03”. Please tell me about the house.

    • Author
      Irene Turner 11 years ago

      Hi Robbie, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Yes, Eichler was ahead of his time, although any renovation of his houses can make them more energy efficient etc.
      the house you are referring to is the same one that’s part of the p”pod” module that the Matthias Horx is talking about in the video. It’s an experimental project in Austria and the video has all the details. Enjoy!

  14. Fiona Stolze 11 years ago

    I really enjoyed reading this and loved the idea of right sizing. It so makes sense to give your living space a new purpose. I use the attic bedroom as a painting workshop and that works brilliantly as there’s loads of light.

    Fiona Stolze

  15. Merlyn Sanchez 11 years ago

    Wow this post really hits home for me. I’m in the midst of considering my future “home” situation as my son is going off to college and I’m not sure how much longer my elderly father can be cared for in my home (he has advanced Alzheimer’s). So rightsizing is a big consideration and I’m also considering moving away from the suburbs and closer to the city. This is something I never envisioned doing!

    • Author
      Irene Turner 11 years ago

      Good luck to you Merlyn, Hopefully this post will help you feel like your instincts are right. Rightsizing is truly a big trend and for many reasons

  16. Gena 11 years ago

    I just thoroughly enjoyed this post and for that matter the insightful comments of your readers. Before we radically simplified and made an overseas move my husband owned a Real Estate Brokerage and I a niche market design firm. We have been discussing for years the future blight the McMansions (we thought we coined this phrase ten+ years ago 😉 would be to the housing market. We have been counseling clients for years to really consider their goals in owning and designing their home as we could anticipate a serious needs change coming up from our outside looking in perspective. We love to see people slow down and really mentally & emotionally think and feel their way through their housing & design choices. We agree this is a trend that is going to have “strong legs” moving forward. Thanks for bringing attention to this trend! By the way; I’d love to see your ideal right sized house! (Also loved the great pics of mixed material use, a fav)

  17. Fredia Yoshimoto 11 years ago

    What would we do devoid of the brilliant concepts you discuss on this site? Who else comes with the tolerance to deal with important topics in the interests of common visitors like me? My spouse and i and my pals are very lucky to have your web site among the types we generally visit. We hope you know how a great deal we take pleasure in your work! Best wishes from us all.

  18. Bob Michny 11 years ago

    Just wanted to say, amazing read

    Much appreciated! Enjoyed reading it. : )


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