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Opulent is Out; Small and Green is In

3/4/2011 12:00:00 AM

Tags: California, Illinois, Alabama, off grid living, smaller homes

Robyn Griggs Lawrence thumbnailOver the past year or so, since the economy crashed, we’ve been encouraged by Americans’ disenchantment with inefficient, unsatisfying McMansions and evidence that they’re seeking smaller, greener homes and home features instead. A National Association of Home Builders survey found that after 30 years of continual growth, average single-family home size had declined from 2,520 square feet in 2008 to 2,480 square feet in 2009. An American Institute of Architects’ Home Design Trends Survey showed more homeowners eschewing upscale amenities in favor of flexible, open and informal spaces that allow for easy movement and family living. The not-so-big and tiny house movements are exploding.

In this morning’s Allentown Morning Call, reporter Dawn Klingensmith offers more good local anecdotes that illustrate this trend. Opulence is out, she reports, and mini-castles aren’t selling. “People don’t like to display evidence of wealth in their houses anymore,” San Diego real estate broker Marian Anthony said.

“Granite countertops and stainless steel appliances were very popular in the past,” Chicago realtor Eileen Casey said. “But now more eco-friendly countertops and energy-saving appliances and fixtures are in, along with other eco-friendly choices.”

Dana Wolter, an interior designer in Birmingham, Alabama, reports that most of her clients “would rather have a smaller home with better-quality finishes than a large house with spec home amenities.”

We may not be getting richer these days, but we’re certainly getting smarter.


Richlite Company's paper-composite countertop made of Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper is a solid alternative to overused granite. Photo courtesy Richlite 



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