The Marshall by Fischer Homes is one of ten custom homes available for viewing during the Home Builders Association of Greater Cincinnati Homearama 2019 in the Kensington neighborhood in Deerfield Township in Warren County. The show runs June 8-23. This is a seating area within the master suite. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

What do custom home buyers want? Larger and smarter living spaces, builders say

Those seeking custom-built homes are increasingly seeking spaces designed to give them more time with family and friends without the headache of a home that’s too large.

That’s according to the custom home builders of this year’s Homearama, the nation’s oldest luxury home show, which runs from Saturday until June 23 at Kensington, a premier luxury new home community at 5780 Fields Ertel Road in Deerfield Twp.

“One of the biggest trends I see in the home building industry is right-sizing the space … rather than being focused on square footage,” said Mathew Walker, president of WP Land Company, who has more than 20 years of home building experience.

“They want the key appointments that they see in the design magazines at the right square footages that they can afford.”

Features that are more prevalent now than is past years include large kitchen islands and roomy master showers, plus soaking tubs to be used periodically rather than for day-to-day use, Walker said.

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In terms of design, home buyers and home builders, are starting to eschew tile-based shower walls and moving toward more flat surfaces, he said.

Michelle Moran, co-founder and partner of West Chester-based J&K Custom Homes, said home buyers are increasingly focusing on the spaces where their families actually live.

“They also want to have smart spaces,” she said. “Families are so busy nowadays that they want to have a place for everything.

That includes space for mudrooms, cubbies and, in the case of J&K’s Homearama entry, a kitchen annex, which is a small functioning kitchen off of the main kitchen.

“You can make the lunches back there and the smoothies and keep the toaster back there and keep it out of sight, so it’s very functional and yet you still have the beauty in the main kitchen,” Moran said.

Home also are including living room-dining room-kitchen areas that not only flow together, but also flow outside to expansive outdoor living spaces, which Walker said is “a huge draw.”

Outdoor living, in some cases, means areas with fireplaces, TV sets, retractable screening, means reconfiguring garage space to an entertaining area. It can also mean finishing garage spaces as “man caves” or other non-traditional uses.

Hannah Worth, assistant marketing manager for Fischer Homes, said clients are increasingly expressing a need for open concept living to allow for large family gatherings.

Homes also are putting flexible function above overall size. An example is Fischer Homes’ Paxton home, where a butler’s pantry connects the dining room to the kitchen, Worth said.

“You’re having those extra spaces that you can kind of furnish the way you want them to and that way you have a more cohesive design,” she said. “Oversize laundry rooms are definitely a must and so are mudrooms, which at Fischer we call ‘family foyers’ and it’s all about storage and really making it family oriented.”

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Buyers of custom-built homes also are asking for downstairs areas that can be tricked out with everything from pool tables and bar to movie-viewing areas and glassed-off exercise rooms, according to TC Rogers, president of Mason-based John Candle Homes.

“They want something that they can entertain their friends and then also keep their children home,” Rogers said.

There’s also been a call for more homes that allow for multi-generational living.

“Either they have kids moving back or they have parents living with them,” he said.

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