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When It Comes To Floor Plans, Flexibility Is Key

Flexibilty Is Key

Traditionally, Americans have lived in their houses as the plan was laid out from the beginning. The dining room was always the dining room, the living room was always the living room and so on. But recently, sweeping changes in lifestyle and demographics have put pressure on Architects to rethink this static model. The result is a movement towards flexible plans. Flexible plans are homes designed to adapt to changing lifestyles, accommodate multi-generational living options, allow for fluctuations in family size, and/or health issues and allow clients to “age in place.”

That kind of flexibility makes sense when you see the data. According to AARP: “The U.S. 65+ population is expected to more than double to 92 million by 2060. And, sixty-one percent of Americans ages 25-54 have friends or family who have moved back in with parents or relatives.”

Flexible home designs might include multiple master bedrooms, incorporating space for an elevator, or including rooms that do double-duty – music/media rooms, craft or hobby rooms, or even dining rooms that can become home offices or guest rooms.

Building flexibility into a home isn’t a new idea by any means. We need only look to the Japanese, who for hundreds of years, used sliding rice paper and wooden screens to partition off rooms for multi-purposes in modest sized home.

Regardless of the size of the home, a flexible floor plan can greatly increase its livability, usability and sale-ability

One trend that we see in flexible designs is the elimination of both the formal dining and formal living rooms. A vestige of a centuries old formal lifestyle, the Living and Dining Rooms had routinely become the space where expensive, uncomfortable furniture gathered dust but for the once a year visit from Aunt Millie. With the bulk of modern daily living concentrated around the open plan kitchen, breakfast and family rooms, these rooms are now routinely eliminated. Yet, we find this open plan living still requires some place to retreat to. Hence the creation of a chameleon like space on the first floor we call the Flex Room or Everyday Room. This space can become whatever a family needs - needs which may change from family to family or from year to year. This room can be formal or not, can be an occasional bedroom, media room, office, or dining room; it can be craft or homework or X-Box or sewing or billiards. The simple option of locating this room near the powder room and then optioning a full bath there makes the flex room into a full fledged first floor in-law suite. Then when grandma goes home, the bed folds back into a sofa, the doors slide into their pockets and desk slides out – the room becomes the office again.

But these days, flexibility takes on much greater meaning when it is combined with ideas such as “sustainability”, “green living” and “kinetic architecture.” It means looking at every aspect of a home’s design with fresh eyes. According to Houzz.com, “Kinetic architecture includes features that move or change to adapt to seasonal, functional or daylight requirements.” Examples are planted living walls, windows that change based on the amount of light they receive, and pivoting panels, doors and walls.

Recently, OMNIA Group Architects designed several new models for a developer, each of which feature the Flex Room concept – giving both builder and buyer more options to give the people what they want and let them live how they want.

The OMNIA Group Architects bring talent, experience and exceptional customer service to every residential and commercial project. We call it Creativity Delivered. Our clients – in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and throughout the country – call it the perfect solution to their architectural needs. Our goal is to create home and work environments that make your life easier, more productive and more enjoyable.

This newsletter is yet another variation of Creativity Delivered – keeping you up to date on the latest architectural trends and on our newest projects.