Curious about which home improvement projects most appeal to homeowners now? The American Institute of Architects’ quarterly survey of 500 residential architects offers some insights.

The Home Design Trends Survey for Q1 2010 shows homeowner interest in accessibility and open spaces — “more flexible, open, and informal layouts that allow for both ease of movement and fostering a space more conducive to family living,” said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, in a press release.

Respondents report an increase in open space layout compared with 2009, as well as increases in informal spaces, finished basements and attics, and single-floor plans.

The survey also shows improving conditions for kitchen and bath remodeling as well as additions and alterations. “The home improvement market, including both additions and structural alterations as well as remodeling projects, continues to be the healthiest sector of the market,” Baker said.

Low-maintenance landscaping and outdoor living spaces are among the top trends in outdoor living, but architects say that clients are moving away from upscale landscaping and outdoor amenities.

Respondents say there is greater interest in smaller homes and lot sizes and more demand for practicality in the home. Homeowners are shying away from buying second homes and, instead, are improving their existing residences.

—Kim Lofgren, REMODELING intern.