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This article first appeared in the September 2016 issue of Pro Builder.

The kitchen, followed by the bathroom, ranked as the most important space for homebuyers and more than half of builders and architects (56.2 percent), responding to Professional Builder’s Design Innovation survey. They also indicated that their projects included bigger kitchens compared with two years ago. Larger kitchens, particularly ones connected to a great room through open floor plans, with oversize counters and high-end finishes and appliances are coveted by Generation X and younger Baby Boomer buyers, currently the sweet spot for new residential construction. A builder/remodeler in Minnesota wrote that among the design changes he plans to make is incorporating more than one space for food preparation. Others mentioned including more breakfast nooks and breakfast bars.

LED lighting and home automation (although not smart appliances) were features that cracked the survey’s top 10 lists for the first time. Universal design was frequently mentioned either as a design element being delivered to older buyer groups via wider doorways, minimal stairs, and large, roll-in showers, or as a feature that would be incorporated in future house plans. Predictably, respondents reported that Millennials favor more tech and computer space along with open floor plans and outdoor living space, but affordability is a barrier for these buyers. An Illinois custom home builder wrote that he’ll try reaching younger buyers with families by minimizing the standard features he offers. See the charts that follow for more Design Innovation survey results.