KBB - March 2012 - (Page 20)
On the Mend
Can you say the word“recovery”?
The numbers may not be as high or the trend as smooth as we would like but a recovery seems underway in home construction and remodeling. According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), research confirms the remodeling trend is for smaller upgrades that improve lifestyle vs. larger renovation projects. It’s about spending less but achieving more as we adapt our expectations to staying in our homes longer but with greater comfort. MAKING ADJUSTMENTS Each generation is adjusting their home remodeling needs as a result of post-recessionary factors. With a significant percentage of Gen X (ages 37-46) underwater on their homes, Baby Boomers (ages 47-66, 80 million in number) are limited in audience for their McMansion-style abodes and thus realize they may be in these homes for quite a while. In fact, a 2011 Associated Press-LifeGoesStrong.com poll finds a staggering 48 percent of older Baby Boomers say it’s extremely or very likely they’ll stay put in their current home throughout retirement. Consequently, older Boomers are beginning to reinvent space for their new empty-nester life stage. Specialty rooms, no longer lilmited to the basement and/or a laundry room corner, are taking center stage on the main or second floor as, for example, a rockand-roll haven for the music lover, a craft room for the home entrepreneur or a potting enclave for the gardener. There is also significant remodeling for practicality among Boomers. Many are installing in-law suites as they think about long-term care possibilities for their elderly parents, as well as Universal Design enhancements for safe aging-in-place for themselves. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), 62 percent of builders surveyed were working on a home modification related to aging in 2010. Gen X has also adopted a practical approach to remodeling projects, as they, too, will be in their current home for significantly longer than anticipated.The new news is they’re remodeling for comfort and enjoyment rather than resale value. One key project is a kitchen that lives large, opening to the family room and encompassing eating spaces, pantries and cabinets loaded with storage space. In addition, the home’s exterior has become critical extended living space for Gen X, who want their front porches to interact with the community and are driving the transition from ”living backside to living streetside.” A great example is the new Sarah Susanka-designed home in Libertyville, IL, which moves the kitchen from the back of the home to the front for the first time since the 1950s. This doesn’t mean backyard living is being abandoned. Instead, all exterior space is being used to create the “backyard home”—not just a room—that breaks into eating, living and dining space. Our youngest adult generation, Gen Now (ages 16-36 and 84 million strong) comes into remodeling with a set of unique expectations. Think of
The kitchen in this home by Sarah Susanka is located in the front of the house.
the fluidity of their lives, and you can see how they expect this same easy transformation from their home. Space is not defined by function but can multitask and change as needed, and WiFi allows them to work anywhere inside or outside the home. Rooms that have minimal usage—dining and formal living rooms—disappear to make way for open-space living that brings both “me” and “we” enclaves together. Privacy is pretty much limited to the bathroom, and walls come down to create new landscapes of living. Extremely smart and design-savvy, Gen Now expects to bring their footprint into how living space is defined. As a result, they are engendering new design visions that not only are exciting in possibilities but will also influence older generations with unique solutions. LOOKING AHEAD As mobility decreases and Americans stay longer in their homes, investment in payback projects becomes more appealing. Across all generations, energy-efficient retrofits will continue to be a strong part of the remodeling industry, and an aging housing stock bodes well for the continuation of exterior maintenance projects. In the coming years, real spending on homeowner improvements is expected to grow at a 3.5-percent average annual pace, ensuring the industry captures a large share of the residential investment market (source: Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies). Understanding generational differences as well as similarities can help your firm capture market share as the rebound continues to gain strength. n —Maxine Lauer is CEO and president of Sphere Trending (www. spheretrending.com; www.spheretrending.blogspot.com), a consulting firm that specializes in trends affecting our environments through an understanding of consumer needs and desires, societal changes, technological innovations and retail landscapes. The firm then combines these macro trends with indepth design trends to bring innovative strategies to market.
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of KBB - March 2012
KBB - March 2012
Show Director’s Note
Road to KBIS
KBB - March 2012