The Most Popular Bonus Rooms
By Richard Campen –
Almost all homes have a set of basic rooms; a living room, a kitchen, bedrooms, at least one bathroom and most commonly, a dining room. However, extra rooms such as a home-office, family room, mud room and a media room are now less common. Depending on the housing market, some bonus rooms can be a selling point for a home, while others have become less popular. As of the American Institute of Architect’s 2012 survey, these days the most popular bonus rooms include the ones listed below. Let’s take a look at what makes these rooms so popular and functional.
The number one spot that belonged to a special function room in the AIA’s Home Design Trends Survey was the home office. The AIA attributes this to several changes in the modern job market, such as:
- More and more jobs are employing telecommuting;
- A majority of people prefer working from home or working on weekends;
- More people opting for contract jobs based out of their homes;
- Increase in the number of self-employed population.
Home offices provide an enclosed space where someone can work with minimal disturbance while being at home. They are especially popular with parents who have to stay at home to look after their young kids as they get an opportunity to work in an office like environment while still being there for their children. They also provide a psychological separation from the rest of at-home life for individuals who work out of the home.
The second most popular special function room is the mud room. This category is combined with a “drop zone,” or area where people can leave:
- and other items when they come home.
Mud rooms are functional during bad weather, when wet and muddy shoes and clothing must be shed before entering the house, as well as during the rest of the year. It only makes sense to store items such as keys and outdoor gear near the door, since they are usually only needed for trips outside.
Outdoor living spaces have always been popular and will remain so. Just as with indoor spaces, buyers are often attracted to well-used “bonus spaces” outside the house while looking for a property. Some creative builders use upstairs decks that can be accessed through the second-floor bedrooms, and then convert the shaded area under the deck into a relaxing outdoor space. This area is shaded and sheltered, thus protecting from the weather but allows the residents to get fresh air and sunlight, while sunbathers can enjoy the deck up top.
Media rooms have declined in their popularity rate, but they are still the fourth most common bonus room option. Home theater spaces and media rooms allow a separation of television and gaming from the communal living room or family room space, which may be popular with households where one or two members are more interested in these things than others. Large television sets can also easily become the focal point of a room, something that may be detrimental to the ambiance of a living room or family room space, so the idea of having a media room is perfect for a family where each member gets his/ her space without any fuss.
Au pair/In-law room
An extra space for a nanny or an elderly relative continues to be a common home addition. A lot of families are interested in homes with spaces that could be used as an in-law room even if their parents/ relatives are still living on their own. The idea is to have a separate comfortable place for their needs in the event of parents/ in-laws shifting to their children’s house. In the meantime, the space can be efficiently utilized as a home office, gym or media room.
Most people are now very cautious of where their food comes from and what it has been exposed to. So maybe this is what explains the growing interest in indoor greenhouses. Growing food outdoors, even in ideal environments, exposes it to bugs and animal pests. Organic plants that are grown without pesticides are even more vulnerable. Since greenhouses allow year-round cultivation as well as protection from the pests that outdoor plants are exposed to, it has become a popular choice with families today.
All other spaces
The above bonus rooms make up 93 percent of all special function rooms in the AIA survey. The remaining seven percent is filled with other types of bonus spaces that are less popular. One surprising find for many people is that fitness rooms and home gyms are nowhere to be found on the list of top choices.
So, if you are a builder who assumes that adding a fitness room will make your offering more attractive may be unintentionally bucking current trends and limiting the appeal of your products.
Ms. Jensen is a leading advocate for families and children and was the founder and president of ACES, The Association for Children for Enforcement of Support.
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