A clear sign that the housing market is in recovery mode , households are iStock_000001509559Smallplacing greater emphasis on kitchens and baths. A sizeable share of residential architects report both the number and size of kitchens and baths are increasing. Even more indicative of an improving market is that upscale features and products used in these areas of the home are growing in popularity. These findings are from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey for the fourth quarter of 2013, which focused specifically on kitchens and bathrooms.

Residential architects are reporting much stronger market conditions. Design billings at residential architecture firms, as well as inquiries for new design projects, have steadily improved over the past two years. Likewise, the level of project backlogs–the amount of work currently in-house for these firms–has increased.

“Now that home prices have hit bottom and are beginning to recover, households are more willing to invest in their homes, looking for more features in new homes that they are purchasing, and willing to undertake higher-end home improvement projects,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “Kitchens and baths tend to be the areas that households first look to when they want to upscale their home as markets improve, just as they remained a high priority even during the depths of the downturn.”

Popular kitchen products and features*

2013

2012

LED lighting:

87%

N/A

Integration with family space:

44%

43%

Larger pantry space:

42%

31%

Computer area / recharging stations:

37%

47%

Wine refrigeration/storage:

35%

24%

Upper-end appliances:

35%

16%

Adaptability / universal design:

32%

35%

Drinking water filtration systems:

25%

19%

* Index score computed as % of respondents reporting increasing minus those reporting decreasing popularity

Baker added, “In contrast to emerging trends in kitchen design, the features increasing the most in popularity in bath design deal with growing desires for accessibility.”

Popular bathroom products and features*

2013

2012

LED lighting

80%

68%

Large walk-in showers

62%

N/A

Stall shower without tub

61%

49%

Adaptability/universal design

60%

54%

Doorless showers

58%

57%

Water saving toilets

44%

43%

Hand shower

36%

33%

Radiant heated floors

32%

33%

Upscale shower

31%

21%

* Index score computed as % of respondents reporting increasing minus those reporting decreasing popularity

Housing market business conditions

AIA Home Design Survey Index for Q4 2013 (any score above 50 is positive)

• Billings: 62

• Inquiries for new projects: 66

Specific construction segments

2013

2012

Additions / alterations:

65%

59%

Kitchen and bath remodeling:

64%

57%

Custom / luxury home market:

37%

14%

Move-up home market:

33%

19%

First-time buyer / affordable home market:

13%

16%

Townhouse / condo market:

13%

-4%

Second / vacation home market

-5%

-27%

* Index score computed as % of respondents reporting increasing minus those reporting decreasing popularity