Reflecting on the Evolution of Housing Style Preferences

Real Estate Agent with Blake Rickels Group, Realty Executives 302690

First, please understand that these ponderings are in the spirit of generalities, observations, conversations, requests, and my perceptions. There are exceptions to every rule and there are buyers for every home…. I really believe that.  It is also true that price points affect selections and requests and necessity – yes, check, given.  What I’m talking about is just a subtle shift in demand, and wish lists, and dreams, NONE of this is scientific, nor do I have data or evidence to substantiate it…. I was really just thinking – so read on in that spirit and share, if you want, what you THINK about it, you know like a conversation. 

     Have you noticed that “Ranch Style” or single level homes are increasing in popularity…. again?  It has definitely been a slow descent away from the popular, suburban McMansions….. - THE aspiration of most of the middle class throughout past decades to more subtle choices and seemingly small details taking precedence over general “square feet”.  There was also the explosive popularity of what we locally refer to as the “Knox Box” home, a colonial type home. You know, a traditional style home featuring levels stacked symmetrically on top of one another to maximize the square feet of living space in the most economical way – building up rather than out.  When it comes to it, these are quite nice and typically great for young families offering multiple upstairs bedrooms and plenty of family functionality, but many of these homes were built sacrificing the appeal of architectural style and the aesthetic interest of details that didn’t really offer strict “functional” necessity. Though still wonderful homes, their placement on perceived list of…. for lack of a better term: wow factor or “envy-ability” by others has become rather lower and reaction to finally acquiring or owning one may be more blasé.   

     When HGTV introduced everyone to the vocabulary of the “open concept” and tore down all the walls to create cohesion and flow between living spaces, consumers’ wish lists changed. Suddenly the traditional separation of functional spaces felt stifling and people rebelled from being boxed into one room or another.  Whether it was caused by our societal focus on aging Baby Boomers, or simply a natural course of style evolution, people began to question how a home would serve them through different phases of their lives.  Seeing aging parents’ need to sell forever homes due to the inability to navigate stairs taught lessons through heartbreak and with these lessons the desire to avoid being “forced” to make such decisions themselves.  This was one big factor that brought demand for at least a “master on main”. 

     The drought of creative architecture coupled with increasing appreciation of charming “character creating” details, was certain kindling for an explosion in appreciation for homes of the Craftsman style architecture.  There has even been a shift away from the traditional stately and standard red brick with white trim and black shutters to neighborhoods filled with shades of natural colors on exteriors made to blend in and accent surroundings rather that stand at abrupt attention.  It seems that now, many people have embraced a less is more mentality, many are downsizing in space, however, demand for superb architecture and homes accented with exquisite details raises the value of the price per square foot.  Quality and the appearance of quality and craftsmanship bring a premium.  

     People are going nuts for Ranch style homes again but….not exactly, NOR an arc toward the 1970s split-levels of the impressive Brady Bunch days.  They may want single story living BUT they also want features to which they have become accustomed retrofitted, or newly designed into these spaces.  So? Higher ceilings, as when there is a central great room with soaring angled ceiling lines connected to an open kitchen and a general increase in the number of windows or amount of natural light. The home may feature a dining room but just as easily may not as the formality of the concept has become considered a waste of space.  Luxurious master bedrooms and baths with guest rooms on the opposite wing complete the wish list. Baseboards, crown moldings, built-ins, and niches or nooks all make the home more attractive to buyers.  


Styles evolve and that is natural whether it’s in clothes or architecture.  Sometimes it’s just interesting to contemplate the impetus behind our preferences and what makes them change. It has certainly been interesting to watch and I look forward to seeing what features or styles become the next “most wanted” features for Knoxville home buyers.

Posted by

Blake Rickels, Realtor

The Blake Rickels Group

Knoxville Realtor Blake Rickels 


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Comments (3)

David Gibson CNE, 719-304-4684 ~ Colorado Springs Relocation
Colorado Real Estate Advisers LLC - Colorado Springs, CO
Relocation, Luxury & Lifestyle residential



We boomers got tired of climbing stairs. We are buying ranches. BTW, it also helps when we have aging parents visit or live with us.

Aug 16, 2015 07:30 AM
Mike Rock
Complete Design - Granite Bay, CA
Granite Bay Luxury New Construction...For Less

great post young man, and soooo true. we have found in the last couple of years such a change. we cud go back and forth with this for days...a fav topic of mine being a builder... here is a pic (3d) of a theoretical bathroom we are designing.. this is only the "hers" half

Aug 16, 2015 08:00 AM
Mike Rock
Complete Design - Granite Bay, CA
Granite Bay Luxury New Construction...For Less

btw.... that blog made me have to follow you!!! keep them coming

Aug 16, 2015 08:01 AM