Top three special function rooms homeowners prefer

Business conditions weaken but remain positive at residential firms

Washington, D.C. – September 27, 2016 – Outdoor living space, mud rooms, and home offices top the list of special function rooms in the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey covering activity during the second quarter of 2016 that focused on emerging home features, systems and technologies.

“Heavy investment in outdoor living spaces, mud rooms, and home offices indicate that consumers are placing a premium on practicality and functionality,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA.  “Things have changed a lot from a decade ago when home theaters and exercise rooms were some of the most popular special function rooms in homes.” 

All of the data from this survey can be access in this infographic.

Special function Rooms



Outdoor living rooms 58 62
Mud rooms 43 45
Home offices 37 34
Dedicated guest rooms (Au pair / in-law suites) 31 33
Home auto management / mechanical room 24 19
Sun room/ 3-season porch 10 N/A

(% reporting popularity of room “increasing” minus % reporting “decreasing”; Q2)

“Although accessibility features remain an important issue to homeowners, demand for some of these features has leveled off in the custom residential arena,” Baker said.  “As more homes become equipped to handle an aging population of homeowners, less custom work needs to be done to address specific accessibility issues.”




First floor master bedroom 54 51
Ramps/Elevators 42 45
On-grade entry 36 37
East-to-use features (e.g. handles) 26 32
Multiple laundry rooms 25 21

(% reporting popularity of room “increasing” minus % reporting “decreasing”; Q2)

Utility Efficient Features/Products



Energy management 63 62
Smart thermostats 59 59
Energy Efficient 47 50
Super insulation 44 56
Solar Panels 42 41
Water saving 38 40
Tankless water heater 35 36

(% reporting popularity of product “increasing” minus % reporting “decreasing”; Q2)

“As more automation products become available, homeowners continue to explore new ways to maintain their spaces with greater ease,” said Baker. 

Low Maintenance and Home Automation
Products Top List of Popular Home Products



Low maintenance 59 60
Wireless systems 48 53
Electrical car docking station 48 42
Home automation controls 43 42
Backup power generation 40 43
Security systems 35 34
Air purification 34 33
Automated lighting controls 26 30

(% reporting popularity of system “increasing” minus % reporting “decreasing”; Q2)

Housing market business conditions

“Though billings remain positive, demand for design services has leveled off to figures not seen since the early months of recovery from the Great Recession,” Baker said. “The same can be said for inquiries, which usually track several points higher than billings.”

AIA Home Design Survey Index for Q2 2016 (any score above 50 is positive)

  • Billings: 54
  • Inquiries for new projects: 56
  • Regional averages: Midwest (62.5), South (47.9), West (56.3) Northeast (50)

“Activity in the additions and remodeling segments are leveling off as well, but remain positive.  Conditions in these sectors in the coming months will serve as a barometer for the housing market in 2017,” Baker concluded. 

Specific construction segments



Additions / alterations 55% 64%
Kitchen / bath remodeling 51% 59%
Custom / luxury home market 24% 34%
Move-up homes 23% 29%
Townhouse / condo market 2% 18%
First-time buyer / affordable home market -2% 17%
Second home -6% 3%

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