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16 I By THYDA DUONG Long Beach Business Journal T he four walls of a building often make a house but some may argue that its the space and place that makes the house a home. And increasingly buyers are looking for homes where space is fluid and flexibility is key. Given the trend toward shrinking home sizes however the challenge lies in how to best optimize space.Alan Scales Principal at KTGY GroupArchitecture Planning observed that home sizes for newer developments generally range between 1100 and 1500 square feet for a three-story home and between 2000 and 2500 square feet for a two-story home while the home itself averages 1200 square feet for a two bedroom 1500 square feet for a three bedroom and roughly 1700 for a three- or four-bedroom home. The design response Scales said is open floor planning and an increased connection between indoor and outdoor spaces that creates fluidity for the buyer. Were seeing much less compartmentalization he said. Privatized open space is huge and thats true at both the lower end of density and at the higher end. . . . While the spaces might be smaller when you create connectivity between the indoor and outdoor spaces it contributes to the livability of the space for years to come. Bill Hezmalhalch founder and President of William Hezmalhalch Architects agreed noting that yards courtyards and decks offer important opportunities to capture open-air spaces for buyers many of whom are also increasingly seeking out progressive design features that create individual identity to their home. I think the majority of people are looking for something thats new and fresh espe- cially within a younger demographic theyre not looking to buy into something that feels like their parentshome or where they grew up Hezmalhalch ex- plained. They want something thats con- temporary and more personalized. . . .Theyre looking for a nice sense of arrival. Still the kitchen remains the heart of the home for many buyers who often gravitate to- ward anchoring islands. The kitchen is really growing in some cases and the dining spaces are less formalized less important especially when you have that outdoor connectivity Scales said. Were finding a large desire to create islands and designs that allow for a bit more flow in and around the kitchen . . . so that youre starting to create more buzz around that island space. As the island gains prominence as the gathering and serving space there is also an increasing trend toward secondary kitchen spaces a butlers or prep kitchen for instance that are more utilitarian in nature said Allison Kunz The Olson Companys Senior Vice President of Design. The main kitchen ends up still being the gathering space but its not the prep area she explained. Now a secondary space is provided that you can really use as your working-horse kitchen. Secondary kitchens arent the only trend however. So are secondary suites which respond to changing demographics and the rise of multi-generational living. As a result bedrooms dont just become secondary spaces but also offer stand- alone living amenities such as an en suite bathroom kitchenette or private entry. Flexible spaces also top the priority list for many buyers. Weve seen in many cases a bedroom going away and becoming more of a loft space or a flex space that can change in time and can grow with the owner Scales said. So where do sustainable features such as solar panels land on the list of buyer priorities The jury may still be out. Its difficult for people to want to spend extra money in this area because theyre fighting affordability issues all the time Hezmalhalch said. But on the flip side of it I think that developers like The Olson Company are providing a lot of sustainable elements as part of the design so that the design is progressive authentic and its right with the environment. So I think sustainability is mainstreaming into projects. With California energy and building codes moving toward net zero standards in which a building must produce as much energy on site as it consumes on an annual basis the design of homes will continue to evolve along with buyer awareness. I think that sustainable features propel buyers forward to be more socially conscious but Im not sure if its a decision-making point like school districts may be Kunz said. But I think its definitely moving in that direction. And while specific features may draw buyers to a home its the design of the overall living environment that keeps them there according to Hezmalhalch. Its not just the unit itself or the home itself he explained. Its the community the neighborhood its that third place that creates opportunities for people to live out- side their home and in their community. . . .These are intangibles that create a lot of value for the homeowner more so than just opening a door and coming into a home. They create a true sense of place. I The kitchen remains the heart of the home for many buyers who often gravitate toward anchoring islands as pictured here at The Olson Companys Coastal Walk community in Huntington Beach. Home Designs For Todays Buyers Its not just the unit itself or the home itself. Its the community the neighborhood its that third place that creates opportunities for people to live outside their home and in their community Bill Hezmalhalch Founder and President William Hezmalhalch Architects Outdoor living at Oakgrove Walk in La Verne. 2015_OlsonCompanyInTownLiving_PortAnniversary 8815 117 PM Page 16