Andy Warren
Submitted photo

Remember when bathtubs in the master bathroom were considered a luxury, sunken living rooms were hip, and small closets were standard?

Those classic home-design trends had their heydays during the 1950s through the 1980s. But, like the changing times, homebuyers’ preferences also have evolved to match the “new normal” of their lifestyles.

The shift presents an opportunity for builders and developers to become even more sophisticated in creating home plans and communities that meet the next generation of buyers where they live — literally.

Today’s buyers, according to separate consumer studies sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Better Homes and Gardens, want home-design features that save on energy, space and effort. Here’s a sampling of the trends dominating 2013.

Improved energy efficiency

Going green is on just about everybody’s mind these days. Buyers are concerned with saving money on their energy bills, reducing their carbon footprint, and doing right by Mother Earth — and they want a home that can help them reach these ideals.

Nine out of 10 buyers in the NAHB “What Home Buyers Really Want” study indicated they would rather purchase a home with energy-efficient features and permanently lower utility bills than one without those features that costs 2 to 3 percent less.

More elbow room

Larger rooms and outdoor living spaces garnered top votes from respondents in the Better Homes and Gardens survey.

Multiple master suites, large kitchens that open into spacious family rooms, and floor-to-ceiling, stackable sliding glass doors that invite the outdoors inside are just a few examples of how homebuyers are seeking new ways to maximize their living areas.

Organization and comfort

A home can provide refuge from the busy schedules of everyday life, so it’s no surprise that organization and comfort are top buyer priorities.

Linen closets in the bathroom, storage in the garage, walk-in closets in the master bedroom and a laundry room located off the master closet — closer to the dirty clothes — are now considered necessities.

While it’s true home design trends have changed dramatically over the years, we’re convinced consumers, at their core, really haven’t changed all that much. Wherever they live, most people really only want one thing: choices.

• Andy Warren is president of Maracay Homes, the Arizona subsidiary of Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Company. He serves on the board of directors for the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona and the Greater Phoenix Leadership, as well as on the board of directors and as an executive committee member with the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. He is also an active member of the Urban Land Institute.

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