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The latest Home Design Trends survey from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) finds homeowners seek renewed features such as special function rooms and automated technologies for their homes, a sign of the housing market’s continuing upturn. The survey covers residential architecture firm activity during the second quarter of 2014, and indicates a resurgence of interest in home design that disappeared during the downturn several years ago.

“Special home features that were often eliminated during the housing downturn are now increasingly returning to home designs,” said Kermit Baker, Ph.D., Hon. AIA, AIA chief economist. “Home automation features, as well as products that promote sustainability, are also showing up with increasing frequency in both new and remodeled homes.”

Many of the findings reflect changing lifestyles of many households. As telecommuting becomes more common in the corporate arena, homeowners desire to work from the comfort of their own home, upping the demand for special home offices. For employees who need to leave the house, au pair/in-law suites have become increasingly popular, as more in-home caregivers for children may be required. And households continue to add separate living suites for aging relatives they may be providing care for, signaling the growing trend of multiple generations living together in one home.

The aging population is also reflected in the higher demand for accessibility in homes. Popular features near the top of the list include ramps and elevators, first-floor master bedrooms, and on-grade home entry.

Other special function rooms in demand include outdoor living rooms and exercise spaces. Smart technologies and sustainability features also show a steady rise, with the survey citing smart thermostats, tankless water heaters, and electrical car stations as more popular this year than in 2013.

Baker also noted the second quarter’s billings score calculated from the survey was above 60, the sixth consecutive score above such a number. “Business conditions at residential architecture firms began to accelerate in early 2013 and have remained at this elevated pace,” he said.

For more on this survey, visit

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