Evolution of the Family Home in Kent

New build homes have undergone an architectural evolution in the last thirty years due to a fundamental shift in expectation from prospective purchasers. Separate reception rooms once epitomised the more formal lifestyles families led and layouts were structured around areas specifically designated as kitchens, living or dining rooms. Upstairs, floor plans were designed to include as many bedrooms and bathrooms as possible, with en suites regarded as the ultimate in luxury.

Annette Cole, Sales and Marketing Director, Crest Nicholson Eastern, explains: “Such traditional architectural styles have been transformed in the last decade to reflect the demand for more flexible living accommodation.

“In order to maximise space and light, house hunters now favour open plan living where the ground floor accommodation, such as the kitchen, living room and dining room, form a natural sequence to accommodate the ever-changing demands of daily life. At The Hollies in Harrietsham for example, family homes feature either an open-plan kitchen / dining room, or a living / dining room, ensuring that rooms blend effortlessly and space is maximised. Equally, in dispensing with dividing walls, houses are less segregated and psychologically families are inclined to spend more time together.

“Equally, while kitchens were once slotted in at the back of a property, they are now regarded as the central hub of a home and, as such, are placed at the centre of an open plan layout. As an area in which homeowners tend to multitask, it is essential that all members of the household can be accommodated in the kitchen, whether children are doing homework and mums are cooking, or whether extended family are dining round the table.

“With moving house an expensive enterprise, and many first time buyers putting their plans to start a family on hold due to a lack of space, it is more important than ever that first and second houses have the floor space to evolve into family homes. Occupants expect to grow into their properties rather than out of them, resulting in fewer steps to securing a forever family home.

“Upstairs, feedback has also shown that new home buyers are now prepared to sacrifice a bath in their en suite in return for fitted wardrobes or a dedicated dressing area – features traditionally considered the exclusive preserve of the more affluent purchaser. This transition in requirements reflects how comfort and spaciousness are no longer aspirations but prerequisites for contemporary living.

“Hotel style bathrooms are also the order of the day, regardless of scale and size of property. Practical and stylish, top-to-bottom tiles offer both a clean-lined aesthetic and minimal maintenance. Equally, if there isn’t a shower in the main family bathroom, purchasers expect a separate shower unit in the master bedroom’s en suite,” Annette adds.

While family homes were traditionally laid out over two storeys, architects are increasingly incorporating a third storey, maximising a home’s footprint and facilitating space for a second or third reception room as well as additional bedrooms.

Multi-storey homes are proving popular with young couples and established families alike. With Help to Buy leveraging what first-time buyers can afford, many are now able to secure a home for the long term, rather than a small apartment to fulfil their immediate needs.

Some house designs now incorporate a nursery room on the same level as the master bedroom suite, meaning that younger children can sleep within close proximity to their parents and then move onto a different floor as they become teenagers and demand privacy away from the family. In essence, this enables families to grow into their homes, and for the homes to adapt to differing family needs. Living accommodation benefits in a similar manner as it is often divided across the ground and first floors, enabling families to have an open-plan family space and a more formal ‘adult’ space on separate floors.

First floor private terraces and balconies are often included as standard while bi-fold doors are fitted more frequently on ground floors, opening living areas directly onto private gardens, amplifying ‘outdoor living’, and bringing the outside in.

“Irrespective of budget, house buyers repeatedly place flexible living, open plan layouts, space and light at the top of their list of what they look for in a new property. Open plan designs undoubtedly lend themselves most successfully to flexible living, and ensure that a property can be as comfortably occupied by a couple as a family. Whilst features such as dressing rooms, outside space, and garden rooms were once seen as luxuries, they are becoming the norm. Purchasers of today’s new build properties can rest assured they are making a sound and long term investment for their future,” Annette concludes.

Currently available at The Hollies are two-bedroom houses priced from £241,500 or £193,200 with Help to Buy; three-bedroom houses are priced from £270,500 or £216,400; four-bedroom houses are priced from £350,000 or £280,000 with Help to Buy. Please call 01622 235 593 for further details or visit www.crestnicholson.com/thehollies

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