Trends in floor plan design tend to change more slowly than trends in other areas. However, tweaks to better meet buyers’ needs often take hold over time. For example, formal dining rooms have become less popular in new homes, while in-home offices remain sought after as working from home continues to flourish.
Floor plan design trends can occur in response to economic situations. Scarcity of land makes a compact footprint more desirable in some markets, and the changing makeup of families has made flexible layouts more appealing than ever. Floor plans are increasingly geared toward multigenerational households, offering main-level bedroom suites and/or in-law units that provide privacy for relatives.
The movement toward informality and relaxed living is signified via the open concept floor plan; a longtime trend that doesn’t seem to be waning, and exterior design, which has also seen change. Ornate styles – a broad category that typically involves a lot of stone arches and stucco – and the McMansion have largely fallen out of favor, while rugged-yet-elegant Craftsman designs continue to be extremely popular. The streamlined modern farmhouse style is stealing some of the spotlight, however, as it has become the plan with staying power.
The Modern Farmhouse
To understand the immense popularity of this architectural style, look no further than how much American consumers love home renovation shows like those on HGTV. It’s hard to overstate the impact of Chip and Joanna Gaines and their fresh farmhouse aesthetic in both interior and exterior designs. A relaxed modern look with soothing color schemes now reigns supreme among new-home designs.
The modern farmhouse style seems to have struck a chord with the American home buyer because it relates back to a more bucolic era while also embracing all the needs of modern life. The defining characteristics of this exterior style include lap siding, large windows, and simple rooflines, typically with one or more gables. Bright white siding usually is paired with dark windows and a farmer’s porch. In a departure from historic farmhouse layouts, some of today’s designs feature only one level of finished space, which is appealing to those who intend to age in place.
Kitchen as Social Space
Open floor plan design has been the standard among layouts, but now they’re going one step further by combining the formal dining room with the breakfast nook. While a luxury plan may still include a set-apart dining room, mid-size plans increasingly include only one dedicated eating space: an enlarged breakfast nook adjacent to the kitchen.
This change reflects not only Americans’ growing informality at mealtime, but also the continued prominence of the kitchen as the center of the home. Even when square footage is tight, the social kitchen design has taken hold so thoroughly that even modest homes typically feature a large island with seating.
Current house plan trends reveal a growing movement toward flexibility. A layout that works for a variety of living arrangements means it will appeal to a wider demographic. This is important as a growing number of households are expanding beyond the typical nuclear family.
Floor plans need to respond to and accommodate the shift toward multigenerational living, meaning adaptability is key. A client may not need room for grandparents now but planning ahead is part of the floor plan when designing a new home. Alternatively, debt-saddled young adults who don’t establish independent households right after college might need some privacy while living with family. Flexible, adaptable spaces easily can help meet these needs.
While in-law suites have been around for a long time, the trend today makes them much more accessible by placing the bedroom (typically with an ensuite or adjacent full bathroom) on the first floor. When not in use for guests or relatives, this room, which often is in the front of the home, can be outfitted as an office or study.
Innovations in Storage
A move toward practicality in floor plan design -making the most of what you have – is evident when looking at the amenities in today’s homes. Storage has become more than just a walk-in closet (though you’ll find plenty of them, increasingly in secondary bedrooms as well as in master suites).
Mudrooms and laundry areas provide areas to keep the clutter of everyday living organized. This is especially important in a home with an open layout, where there’s little room to hide footwear, backpacks, and coats. Mudrooms with hooks, lockers, and benches greet homeowners with a place to sit down, take off shoes, and store gym bags and schoolbooks. Meanwhile, smarter storage for laundry necessities—such as detergents and drying racks—is also accompanied by smarter placement in the home. This simple change makes it easy to throw in a load of laundry without lugging a basket through the house.
For furry members of the family, pet amenities have become more common in new house designs. There are creative solutions for the discreet placement of a pet’s food and water dishes or a cat’s litter box. Incorporating “pet centers” in layouts, which include dog-washing stations and other storage, are now common occurrences.
A home office can be viewed as a storage solution if it’s able to also serve as a guest suite. This provides a multi-purpose room in the truest sense of the word.
Bathroom as Home Spa
In current floor plan designs, creating larger showers has become the norm. Many layouts from recent years include a standalone shower in the master suite. If you haven’t already, now is a good time to say goodbye to the tub/shower combo. Current trends involve two sinks, and a freestanding tub. In smaller plans, the tub gets nixed, but the shower always remains. Why? While a bath sounds relaxing, it can be hard to fit into a busy schedule. And forget those ornate tubs of yore, with their elaborate steps and big surrounds. When included, today’s tubs typically provide a spacious but simple place to unwind.
However, in the case of today’s shower, more is more. Walk-in showers, especially those without a curb, look elegant and work well for aging in place by adding a well-anchored grab bar and a bench. A few particularly upscale plans even arrange the shower so that it can be entered from two sides. But a massive amount of square footage is not required to have a chic, contemporary bathroom. Many plans keep it simple and streamlined with the two must-haves: double sinks and a spacious shower.