Eco-Friendly Kitchens Among Top 10 Architectural Trends

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) recently issued a press release identifying and predicting the 10 Major Residential Design Trends for the Next 10 Years with a detailed analysis published in the organization’s official journal: Architect Magazine. Among these trends are healthier homes and with sustainable design elements, kitchens becoming a focal point of homes and the emergence of outdoor kitchens.

“Homeowners have indicated a strong preference for functionality, accessibility and sustainability over the last 10 years, and architects expect that to accelerate with increasing demand for healthy building materials and furnishings,” said Kermit Baker, chief economist for the AIA.

Healthy, Sustainable Homes

Although technological integration was at the top of the list, environmental health issues came in a close second. According to the AIA, consumer awareness about environmental health issues has greatly increased, prompting the widespread use of materials containing little-to-no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Composite wood flooring and paneling containing VOCs will increasingly become out of favor, and carpets with polyvinyl chloride will be replaced with eco-friendly carpeting or bare floors.

A recent survey cited by the AIA shows that 25 percent of homeowners are, at the very least, suspicious that their homes contain health hazards, and 20 percent are not sure whether they should be concerned.

In addition, architectural firms are reporting that homeowners are focusing on sustainability and conservation of natural resources, which could push the trend to use recycled materials in countertops, floors and other surfaces.

Architectural firms also say that new and innovative materials are expanding possible design options. While efficiency in design is ranked slightly higher, new and sustainable construction products are becoming extremely important in contributing to efficient homes. Twenty-eight percent of the survey respondents stated that they anticipate a significant increase in in renewable building materials over the next five to 10 years.

Kitchens the New Focal Point of Homes

During the recent economic recession, features in new homes were scaled back in every room except the kitchen. With families increasingly on the go, kitchens have become a central meeting point for household members, and new homes are placing an emphasis on kitchen space. Large islands, nooks, bars and seating areas are being incorporated into kitchens not only for the preparation, serving and eating of meals but also for relaxing, conversing and work activities.

As kitchen space increasingly becomes synonymous with family space, kitchens will continue to expand as centers of household operations, and other sources tell us that tables are being replaced by permanent, integrated countertops, which are used for dining, home offices and planning centers.

Outdoor Kitchens

Another new trend is an expansion in outdoor-living facilities. In the past, the focus in outdoor space has been on decks, patios and outdoor grills, but this has expanded to full-blown outdoor kitchens, which is expected to increase the demand for sustainable countertops, flooring and other surfaces.

Before signing off on this report, the AIA stated that nonresidential buildings are expected to follow similar trends.

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