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Building on Trends

The BIA Parade of Homes, which opens this week in southeastern Union County, showcases 13 houses that mimic Craftsman, Colonial, Italianate and other traditional architectural exteriors.Behind the variety of facades and exterior colors, however, lies what has become the standard blueprint of the modern American home: an entryway flanked by an office on one side and a dining or “flex” room on the other; a master suite, a guest suite and “Jack-and-Jill” bedrooms on the second floor; a finished lower level; and a great room/kitchen in the rear of the house.

Anchoring it all is the new American hearth — the kitchen island.

“The island is the new kitchen table, where people serve breakfast, do homework, everything. It’s the new focus of the home,” said Jeff Memmer of Memmer Homes, one of two builders new to the parade.

The parade, which will run from Saturday through June 30 in Jerome Village, offers homes ranging from $450,000 to $850,000 and from 3,255 square feet to 5,654 square feet.

It also offers a sneak peek at a community that is likely to dominate central Ohio building for the next decade. Jerome Village, developed by Nationwide Realty Investors, includes 1,435 acres and is eventually expected to include schools, shops, offices, parks and 2,200 homes.

So far, only about 100 homes have been built, but when Jerome Village is completed, only Muirfield Village and New Albany will rival it in size.

Although layouts of the parade homes may be similar, the details provide a snapshot of what’s in and what’s out in contemporary home design.

Some features that are in:

• Master showers. While a few master suites in parade homes still have a whirlpool tub, most builders have put the emphasis squarely on the shower, with enormous walk-ins featuring multiple shower heads, steam functions and electronic controls. Check out the double master shower in the Truberry Homes model.

“Seventy-five percent of our buyers opt against a soaking tub in the master suite in favor of an elaborate shower,” said Pamela Cinelli, marketing director with Compass Homes, whose model skips the tub.

Outside storage. Garages have been supersized for several years, but now builders are adding areas specifically designed to store lawn equipment, bicycles, furniture and other outdoor clutter. Check out the “garden garage” behind the Prism home.

• Wall textures and surfaces. Instead of dramatic faux painting that dominated recent parade homes, designers have opted for unusual wall surfaces such as stone, horizontal wood planks and painted foundation walls. Check out the “stacked wood” wall in the Romanelli & Hughes model.

• Granite alternatives. Granite remains plentiful in kitchens, but it no longer rules the roost. Builders are opting for a greater variety of countertop surfaces, including marble, soapstone, quartz and wood. Check out the translucent quartzite and reclaimed chestnut countertop in the Prism home.

“Granite is still popular, but it’s becoming a bit blah,” said Brian Pol, marketing director with Rockford Homes, whose model features a sage green quartz kitchen counter. “There are so many different options out there now.”

• Concrete lower-level floors. Carpet is still found in the basement, but more builders are staining and polishing concrete for an industrial look. Check out the glasslike finish of the Truberry Homes basement floor.

• Outdoor rooms. The parade offers plenty of patios and decks, but some builders are finding a niche between a porch and a patio with a semi-enclosed outdoor space. Check out the breezeway with a fireplace at Compass Homes.

• Hidden garages. With some garages in parade homes able to accommodate up to five cars, builders are seeking ways to avoid a wall of garage doors overwhelming the house. They are staggering the garage doors, splitting up garage bays and making some garages double depth. (A subdivision requirement that garages be set back from the front of the house helps.) Check out the two-deep garage in the Manor Homes model.

“We’re trying to avoid having a look of all garage in front of the house,” said Jeff Yates, a project manager with Manor Homes.

• Computer space. Builders are still figuring out how to incorporate computers into the house with built-in desks off the kitchen, mudroom or hallway. Check out the second-floor computer room in the Prism home.

A few features that are out:

• Two-story interiors. Continuing a trend that began years ago — and accelerated as 10-foot-high first-floor ceilings became common — two-story great rooms and foyers are largely a thing of the past. Only two of the 13 homes have two-story great rooms and only one has a two-story foyer.

• First-floor master suites. Once routine in new homes, a first-floor master suite is found in only one of the homes. This is a function of design trends and as well as the community’s tight lots and anticipated buyers: young families, whose parents want to be on the same floor as the children.

“First-floor masters were huge four or five years ago,” said Yates, with Manor Homes. “We couldn’t build them fast enough. Now, we don’t get much demand for them. People find they want to be closer to their kids and the economy of it isn’t great. You lose so much space on the first floor, and the second floor doesn’t work as well.”

• Dining rooms. The formal dining room in the front of the home is slipping away in many designs, even those with more than 3,000 square feet. Instead, builders have opted for dining space between the kitchen island and the living space in the great room or in an enlarged breakfast nook off the kitchen.

“About 35 percent of our buyers want dining rooms,” said Tim Shear, vice president of Coppertree Homes. “But they don’t want to lose that space, so we add the space in the back, where it’s integrated into the house.”

• Master suite lounge areas. Briefly the rage, these living areas in master suites have fallen by the wayside. None of the homes in this year’s parade includes the feature.

“That seemed such a quick trend, but now it’s gone,” Yates said. “Who hangs out in their bedroom like that?”

But, Yates added, summing up the appeal of the parade, “Next year, it will be something different.”

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