Last year Better Homes and Gardens magazine received survey responses from nearly 60,000 Americans describing home improvement projects and future home-building aspirations. Based on those findings, BHG, along with design experts, is building the “Better Home Better Living House” in Cumming, Ga., outside Atlanta, which will be given away in a nationwide sweepstakes. “Affordability and flexibility top America's wish list when it comes to their homes,” said Karol DeWulf Nickell, BHG's editor in chief, on the BHG Web site.

The Better Home Better Living House in Cumming, Ga., is being built in response to a Better Homes and Gardens magazine survey on what Americans want in their homes. Nearly 60,000 people responded.
Better Homes and Gardens The Better Home Better Living House in Cumming, Ga., is being built in response to a Better Homes and Gardens magazine survey on what Americans want in their homes. Nearly 60,000 people responded.

Specifically, BHG found that people want indoor/outdoor livability, technological innovations, flexibility (design should easily adapt to changing family needs), and a kitchen-centric focus. BHG's home, valued at $500,000, will be built with structurally insulated panels and other technologies to save money over time.

In June, the American Institute of Architects released its first home design trends survey, which relayed similar findings. The AIA reported that clients want wider hallways, fewer steps, and single-floor design; an open space layout; finished basements and attics to increase living space; and upscale landscaping, decks, porches, and patios. Many of the surveyed firms also said that the square footage of homes continues to increase. “We're seeing the same trends in our remodeling projects that we see in our custom home plans,” says Rita Peterson, a designer and principal at Associates in Building & Design, Fort Collins, Colo. Families with young children, as well as older clients, want flexibility in designs, and family-oriented areas such as computer work centers in the kitchen. They're also looking to “bring the outdoors indoors” she says.

Ben Morey, owner of Morey Construction, Signal Hill, Calif., sees the same trends on the West Coast. “Much of the housing was built here in the '30s to late '50s. The kitchen was segregated into a small corner with a small dining area off it. Many [of these houses] have a living room with no kitchen access except through a small doorway. The biggest change is to take all those wall sections out of that space. People now want a larger kitchen and the ability to see one another.”

But although the open design and family-oriented rooms are important, Morey and Peter-son are also finding that adults are seeking quiet refuge in private master suites.