At-Home Architecture

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Front porches are back, garages — or at least huge, elevation-dominating ones — are out. Colors other than beige and sand are showing up here and there, architectural details are garnering more attention, and living spaces, although growing, are geared...

June 30, 2001

Front porches are back, garages - or at least huge, elevation-dominating ones -are out. Colors other than beige and sand are showing up here and there, architectural details are garnering more attention, and living spaces, although growing, are geared more toward "living" and less toward merely "space." These aren’t the trappings of revolution by any means, but there is nevertheless a movement afoot toward more detailed, homey and innovative design.

Tracy Cross is a Chicago-based consultant who has tracked the nation’s home building trends for more than 30 years. He says good architecture evolves when the competitive market forces it to evolve as a matter of differentiation.

"In most markets, especially as strong as this [national] market has been and continues to be, the level of competition has forced builders into thinking a little bit differently, and focusing first on segmentation and second on design." With the most obvious approach to differentiation, the price game, knocked out in a strong market, Cross says, "you’ve got to identify what market segments you’re appealing to and then design effectively to them."

What his research and anecdotal evidence suggest is that good design is not limited to very expensive homes. In each market and in almost every price point, builders are using design to draw buyers. Their way to differentiate is to promise - and deliver - not just a house, but what looks, feels and lives like a home.

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