Building Trends, Part 2

So I think we’ve moved on from talking about the culture to really talking about the lifestyle, and people are enjoying being outdoors more, so that’s what you’re talking about this glass and just feeling a little bit more connected to nature and the outdoors. What are some of the other aspects of the lifestyle that’s driving these trains today? What about – what about hospitality?

I mean, that’s a huge trip, but that’s just been ongoing. I think how we express it is a bit different today. You know, there’s, there’s a very good reason why there’s somewhere around 135 cooking shows on television today; people are just hugely into cooking. But, of course, that’s the focal point of hospitality for most people. So, kitchens have become bigger, they’re more, they’re more thought out in terms of accommodating a variety of different functions. It’s no longer that magic triangle of, of kitchen sink, stove, and refrigerator. It’s just totally morphed into a much more inclusive kind of area.

So you have pantries; pantries have become huge again. People are not just keeping a week or two’s worth of food in their pantries today; they’re, they’re going to the, the big warehouse stores like Sam’s, Costco, and others and buying in bulk, and what they need is a place to store food in bulk. So we’re seeing that with dry goods, and we’re seeing it also with frozen foods, so it’s very common today to see an additional refrigerator, or certainly a freezer, in the pantry as well as just storage with your dry goods. So, pantries are a big deal. 

Another aspect of pantries is being used as a second food prep area. So there’s, we’re seeing a lot of sinks in these pantries, we’re seeing a number of people are moving those, those small appliances into that pantry that they use infrequently, but they want to go ahead and have counter space for it, they want to be able to plug it in. So, you know, these air fryers, which is hugely popular now, a lot more slow cookers are being used to prepare meals. So you can, you can have a place for these appliances that’s not in the main kitchen, taking up counter space. So there’s a lot going on with that.

It’s very interesting that you bring all that up because I just saw a television show the other day that, and it was saying how in the colonial days, there wasn’t actually a kitchen in the house. There was actually a separate building that they used, because we didn’t have stoves; they used wood to build fires, and they had to haul the water, so it was in a completely separate building. It’s kind of ironic that we’re, we’re almost like we’re training back to this – we have separate food prep periods we have separate.

It’s interesting you mentioned the kitchens being separate, a separate building. I didn’t understand that until I went to Monticello to see Jefferson, down there in Virginia. That was, what impressed me about that was of course the purpose of the kitchen being separate, as a separate building, is because they had a tendency to catch on fire. So, in order not to burn down their main house, they would keep that building separate. But that’s where the expression keeping room came from. The keeping room, and you see that in a lot of home floor plans. And it’s just that small space that’s adjacent to the kitchen. In today’s houses, but, you know, hundreds of years ago, 300 years ago, and we were seeing keeping rooms in houses and it’s where they brought the food into the house to keep it warm before they served it, hence the expression keeping room. But today, my keeping room is where my wife and I will have our coffee in the morning and watch the news on television. So it’s part of the kitchen, but kind of set aside.

We’ve talked about the aesthetics, culture, and lifestyle. What are some other parts of the functionality that’s driving these trends? How has function become a main contributing factor in today’s trends. 

Well we talked about function with, with the kitchen, and it’s sort of its companion room, the pantry. Just a little bit more about that. A pantry, a well outfitted pantry will also be used for, in terms of hospitality, that’s where you will stage your food as it’s being prepped; you can set it aside and then when it’s ready to be served, you bring it out and you serve it.

If you’ve ever had a large gathering of people, that’s a great way to be able to, to keep your kitchen a little bit more organized. Because you do have those, those platters of food stored out of sight, so to speak, and you can bring them, bring them out as you are ready to serve them. And then you can also bring all the soul dishes into that as well. So, in addition to the sink in the pantry, we’re also seeing dishwashers. So, another way to do that. But, I think I mentioned pantry, pantries as being a very big deal. The other thing that we’re seeing as almost as often as a separate pantry, we’re distinguishing a food pantry, and a dish and small appliance pantry. That, you know, over the years, my wife and I have inherited our parents china, so we now have five sets of china in our house, and we needed a place to store it, but also a place where we can get to it conveniently. And that’s true for the platters that we use seasonally and other serving pieces that you want to organize, you want a place for everything, and you want everything in its place. And a well organized dish and small implies pantry is – that’s a wonderful way to do that. So pantry is again, huge comeback, we’ve seen a lot more large walk in pantries from people. That pantry is obviously adjacent to the kitchen, but it’s also convenient for… to where you bring your food and so forth into the house and the garage. So it’s between the garage of the main – and the main kitchen.

We’ve talked about, as far as the functional aspect goes, we’ve talked about hobbies and family dynamics needing separate rooms, work, workouts, for health reasons, and we’ve even talked about hygienic surfaces, you moved into new materials. You mentioned aging, aging in place. Talk to us a little bit more about what how that?

Well, that’s more of a functional trend. You know, as we think through the design of our houses today, the one thing that we’re all consistently doing is aging. And our mobility is – is hugely important to how we design a house and our ability to do just that: to age in place and not have to change our homes because of either age or incapacity. I mean, we’re all one intersection away from the necessity of rolling around. So, we need to think through how we lay out our homes to make that convenient. 

It’s easy to design in 36 inch wide door openings so that you’re meeting that ADA requirement to be able to navigate through your house, should you have to be in a wheelchair, so it doesn’t look clinical; it just- it just has a larger opening for your door. So, that’s an easy one, but it’s also easy to design a bathroom so that we can accommodate a wheelchair if we need to, to roll around our bathrooms as well, so that, you know, to design a 60 inch diameter turning area for a wheelchair, which is code compliant for ADA. Again, that’s easy to do. We can make our showers larger so again, those are more accommodating. Do the things like blocking in our wall, so we can now grab bars and, should we need to do that, but there’s a number of things we can do as we design a house, so that, should you have that need, you can adapt your house to that requirement. 

So I think, from a functional standpoint, that’s very much a trend. Ranch plans is another consequence of that; we’re seeing a resurgence in single level living, instead of the McMansion, which was pretty much I think the trend for McMansions, or multilevel houses, was a trend created to allow higher density within a development, you see the footprint. Say you have a 4000 square foot house, a pretty good size home, the main level may be 2000 square feet, so that leaves 2000 square feet more. So, you can push that all up another 2000 square feet up, or maybe you split it, where you got 12 or 1800. She said 1200 square feet down and maybe another 800 square feet up to make up that total square footage. But you have an overall smaller footprint to the house, it’s not as big – if we had 4000 square feet spread out over a ranch plan – that’s a big home; it takes up a lot of real estate. If it’s 4000 square feet shared on two, three or four levels, then you have a smaller footprint, you have a smaller foundation and you have a smaller roof area, so there’s some economy to that. But purely from a functional standpoint, single level plan is going to be much easier to navigate and get around. Back to the McMansion, the smaller footprint, huge trend towards residential elevators. They’re gonna run anywhere from maybe 23 to 28,000, depending on how you outfit it. So, what we do is, we will design the elevator shaft into the overall floorplan, so it’s already there, ready to be retrofitted with an elevator in the event that you need that to be able to live in your house. So, it’s an easy accommodation, it’s one that we want to use consistently. Remember designing the house and, until such point you need it, you can use it as a closet. It’s easy to do. So, I think elevators are another huge trend that we’re seeing. 

I’m gonna back up to what we talked about earlier, in terms of some of the trends as to lifestyle. You’re gonna see that also, with more attention being paid to outdoor living. We alluded to it a little bit, but outdoor living has become huge, particularly here in the southeast where we have good weather, we have four distinct seasons. I don’t particularly think summer or winter are severe, to the point where you’re just not going to have any opportunity during those, those, those different seasons to go outdoors, but we do a lot of outdoor fireplaces, outdoor kitchens have become a very big trend. That, what we were talking about earlier with larger doors that open, provide you larger openings. We recently installed a folding door in a house that gave you an opening that was 20 feet wide and 10 feet tall. That’s a huge opening. But the product is readily available and the client wanted it and what they do, what the result of that was, you have that blending of indoor and outdoor. And you may know this, but the Japanese called that the engawa. That’s where, that’s that transition from inside to outside. It’s, it’s very purposeful, but it makes that, gives you that opportunity for that, that marriage of and indoor outdoor living which I think is really a wonderful way to do it.

We’ve talked about the four different aspects, you know, the aesthetic, cultural, lifestyle and functional all of these things that are driving the trends for creating shelter? What is the lasting impact that these trends will have on creating shelter?

That’s a good question. And I think that’s, that really depends on the actual, individual consumer. I think some of these trends, particularly what we’ve learned over the last three years, as a result of the pandemic, we’ve learned we have to be prepared. And the necessity of having to stay in your homes, you’re going to need that home to be much more multifunctional than it has ever been. We talked about working from home; now these are not, none of this is new, but the pandemic gave it a much greater emphasis, if you will, where we recognize the need for these things. I think multi story houses make that a little bit easier, give you some separation, when you need to be able to work from home without interruption. Or your, your teenage kids can go down to the game room and hang out there, give you the privacy that you need. I think the, some of the other things that we’re dealing with in our culture today; we’re seeing shortages of things that we haven’t experienced in decades. A very good example of that as some of the things that we’re beginning to see, that are difficult to buy. Some of the food items that are just no longer as plentiful as they used to be, so people are beginning to hoard food items, grains and other things that they, that have a long shelf life, but they want them nonetheless – all that requires space, you got to plan for it. So, that’s another significant trend, in my, in my estimation. 

Something that, you know, we’re seeing people that have more blended cultures. And that’s just the nature of our country, really, we’re very much a melting pot of people still, but you will have families, and I’ve met a couple recently or the husband was Muslim, the wife was Catholic, and that was very much a blended culture in that household. And, and they, they had some very specific needs as a consequence of their faith. So I think that that’s something that, as we become more accepting and appreciative of different faiths, different cultures in our country, we’re gonna see a little bit more of that. 

I think you need to think of your home as your universe. And you really do, it’s got to be able to accommodate who you are and how you choose to live. We didn’t talk about hobbies or sports to any extent, but I had a very good dose of that over the weekend, when we watched football, we were watching some playoffs and it was all about the football that weekend.

Well, in this case, it was football. But, we were seeing Washington playoff games, and it dominated the conversation and, as it should, that’s perfectly fine, but for the sports enthusiast, you know, their, their aesthetic may just be their favorite game. I have a great client who’s hugely into the Vikings, so that room was dedicated to purple and Viking memorabilia. It was just fun to be there. But that’s the, these are things that are just a personal choice, perhaps more than more than trends. Those interests that we have, whether it’s sports, or it’s a hobby; we want to accommodate them in our houses, and it’s easier to do today than it’s ever been.

So, we’ve got a lot of things that we need to consider when we start looking at the trends that are impacting how we live. I mentioned earlier that the aesthetic trends are the ones that are a bit easier. It’s easy to paint a wall, certainly easier to paint a wall than to add on a room, but I think the ones that people are really going to pay attention to more are trends for lifestyle our and how, how we have to function in our homes. And I think the past three years have given us a good dose of that. It does become more and more important. But this is part of what we do is we create shelter; we have to think about these things and look at how we can take care of our families.

I have personally experienced many of the things that you’ve talked about today. I just recently had some medical issues my house was not ready for; we had to take the door off the bathroom to get the wheelchair in. The bathroom wasn’t ready, you know, as far as the rails and other things, and there was so many parts that was extremely frustrating when you’re relatively healthy, and then all of a sudden, you can’t maneuver around your home. And there was definitely a negative impact on the functionality of my home. But also something positive that my wife has picked up on, is that, you know, she’s learned that you got to have so many plants per square feet, make your home healthier, which is probably possible to meet those requirements. But, but plants are something that helps keep the air clean, you know, so these are the things that are, directly impacted me. And I want to know, have any of these things personally happened to you? And who else do you think that this is impacting?

Well, since you mentioned how you were inconvenienced with your, with your ailment recently, you know, five years ago, I had a terrible accident. And I had no use of my hands with my arms. And I live in a three story house; I have had trouble navigating all three floors of that house. And so that was a very humbling experience, and it also made me really think, from a very personal standpoint, what do we have to do here? And then my wife and I discussed, what do we have to do if one of us were really immobilized permanently? Thank goodness, I had a very caring wife and daughter, that, to help me get through that, but it was an eye opener for me. So, I think we do have to be much more intentional about how we design our homes, and just give them that flexibility to be accommodating. And you know, we each have had aging parents that needed that little bit of care. So we need to think through that as well; that’s certainly part of that multi generational concern that we have as, as we live in our house is very, very real, and I think it’s becoming more so in today’s culture, as well. I think some of the things that we’re having to deal with, and we’ll talk about this in another podcast, but it’s really about the impact that we have in our communities as created by restrictions, building restrictions, and how that’s impacted the types of homes that we’re building, the density of housing, and all of that relates to the cost of housing. So that’s a great segue into talking about that in another podcast. Okay. So David, thank you very much.

Well, thank you, Michael. You’ve been listening to Michael Grant from Modern Rustic Homes. And myself, I am the owner of Shepherds Loft. We are the host of creating shelter, and how it shapes, defines, and inspires us. If you’ve been personally impacted by any of these trends, please let us know in the comments below. Be sure to follow us and add us to your podcast. You can listen more on the Apple podcast and Spotify. So, we look forward to your comments and we’ll join you next time. Thank you.

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