Most Wanted Amenities by Age

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Americans of almost all ages desire the same key features in the home of their dreams, and luxury home builders have vastly enhanced those amenities in recent years to attract high-profit sales.
A state-of-the-art kitchen, walk-in closets and whirlpool tubs rank as the three most-coveted elements Americans over 25 want in their dream home, according to a recent survey by market-research firm GFK Roper. Younger “Gen Y” members long for several, more active

Americans of almost all ages desire the same key features in the home of their dreams, and luxury home builders have vastly enhanced those amenities in recent years to attract high-profit sales.

A state-of-the-art kitchen, walk-in closets and whirlpool tubs rank as the three most-coveted elements Americans over 25 want in their dream home, according to a recent survey by market-research firm GFK Roper. Younger “Gen Y” members long for several, more active features such as in-ground pools and game rooms, but builders say that reflects their young age not their ultimate desires.

“There are things that one generation or another pays a little more or less attention to,” said Kira McCarron, chief marketing officer for Toll Bros., the largest U.S. luxury-home builder. “You’ll see a divergence beyond the top five (features) in what pre-Boomers, Baby Boomers and Gen Xers (born 1965-1980) want, but the heart of their dream’s the same.”

Our dream home also isn’t necessarily the Taj Mahal, McCarron noted. Rather, it’s something we can see ourselves actually attaining one day.

“People aspire to well beyond their current reach and into where they’d hope to be in 10 or 15 years,” she said. “Boomers may look at their dream-home purchase as a reward, while Xers see it from a more practical standpoint as investors. But on a features-analysis basis, they want largely the same thing.”

The components of our dream home aren’t lost on high-end home builders, who’ve spared no expense in lavishly dressing them up:

State-of-the-art kitchens

Luxurious kitchens go far beyond the niceties of granite countertops and Sub-Zero refrigerators these days, starting with simple design enhancements such as raised dishwashers to make loading and unloading easier.

In the $4 million to $11 million properties of Scottsdale, Arizona-based Calvis Wyant Luxury Homes, you’ll find built-in coffee-making systems, pizza ovens and walk-in coolers.

“The newest trend is to have a separate prep kitchen, so the main kitchen doesn’t get dirty; you just do all the cooking there,” said Lissa Hickman, Calvis Wyant’s interior designer.

In its $1 million to $8 million offerings, Newport Beach, Calif.-based Laing Luxury Homes includes warming drawers, dual dishwashers and combo refrigerator-ovens, in which a seasoned roast can be placed in the morning and begin cooking via Internet prompt, to accommodate the home-chef entrepreneur who may be running late that evening.

Walk-in closets

As if their sheer size weren’t enough – up to 250 square feet in many cases – today’s luxury walk-ins have taken on the appearance of regal dressing rooms. Small chandeliers have replaced standard overhead fixtures, and marble-top center islands loaded with storage drawers serve as dressing tables.

Hardwood cabinetry along the walls also may be ornate, with leaded glass inserts and lockable, virtually impenetrable jewelry drawers. Many contain three-way mirrors for the female CEO on the go to make sure she looks marvelous before hopping into her Mercedes to race off to work.

“It’s a given. If a house doesn’t have a walk-in closet, it doesn’t exist in our portfolio anymore,” said Jeff Reeder, design manager for Bethesda, Maryland-based Winchester Homes, whose properties sell for up to $3 million. “It’s not only the master bedroom. They’re also going in princess suites for the daughters.”

Whirlpool tubs

Most luxury homes have at least two whirlpool tubs – one in the master bathroom and a large, in-ground hot-tub at poolside. All the full bathrooms in Calvis Wyant’s homes contain whirlpools, even the young children’s baths, unless the buyer requests otherwise, Hickman said.

More Laing home buyers are foregoing a whirlpool in their master suite in favor of free-standing tubs made of cooper, granite and other exotic materials costing up to tens of thousands of dollars, said Kari Deol, Laing’s design-studio operations manager. Those homes will still have a group hot tub outdoors and whirlpool baths in other bedrooms.

Additional features

As McCarron noted, the Top 10 most-desired features differ somewhat among the generations beyond the key elements. Among pre-Boomers, a garden tied for third with whirlpool tubs and greenhouses ranked seventh, whereas gardens ranked eighth and greenhouses didn’t appear on both Boomers’ and Gen Xers’ Top 10.

Since many don’t yet have children, Gen Yers visualize other uses for the many spare rooms in their dream home. A sauna and steam room and a gymnasium/fitness room tied for seventh on their wish list, and a room with a built-in, high-tech entertainment center ranked eighth.

Of course, there are features unique to many people’s dream homes. Winchester’s Reeder had accommodated buyers on requests such as showers that dispense water from the ceiling and a doggie room off the reared mud room featuring a tiled area with a hand-held showerhead.

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