Casual is the New Smart in Housing | John Burns Real Estate Consulting

Casual is the New Smart in Housing


Good design and the right price is the recipe for success today. Here are several trends we see among consumers, based on a survey we conducted of nearly 10,000 potential home buyers:

  • Casual Living. Our survey shows a significant preference for “casual and comfortable” styles, versus more “formal styles” in home designs. Consider the clever Apple advertisement that compared the “old IBM Guy” in a suit to the “younger Apple Guy” in a t-shirt: casual has become the new “smart” today in many forms – including interior living.
  • Great Living. This trend toward casual living is further underscored by the high preference for great rooms throughout the country. According to our survey, all regions prefer great room living, with the highest percentage in the Northwest region.
  • Outdoor Living. Casual living extends to the outdoors as well. The relationship between indoor and outdoor living is growing in popularity in many new home designs throughout the country. From the Northeast to the Southwest, consumers want the great outdoors! Why? To meet their needs and desires to connect aesthetically to natural outdoor spaces. In addition, these are spaces that provide an extension to their home for entertainment and connectivity with their friends and family. The best home designs revolve around great entertainment spaces where holiday meals, an afternoon barbecue, or a simple Sunday night dinner take place. The most common spaces we think of for entertainment include the kitchen and family room. It is no surprise that kitchen and family room ranked among the most important rooms when looking for or buying their next home. However, the design of private outdoor spaces and the home’s orientation to these spaces are often overlooked. Outdoor living rooms are now showing up in townhome living as well as luxury homes.


Take a look at these success stories that embrace the desire for “casual and comfortable,” as well as the desire for great indoor and outdoor living. These ideas are achieving higher profits and greater absorption despite today’s market conditions. While both examples are from California, buyers all over the country told us that this is what they want.
Sandalwood by Colrich Homes – This builder stepped out and took indoor and outdoor living to a new level in this community in the La Costa masterplan located in Carlsbad, California. The exterior architecture is simple and the interiors sizzle! That is what consumers want. The community offers mostly great room plans, fantastic outdoor spaces, and casual interiors. The results: traffic of several thousand people in the first weekend. The community has sold extremely well at premium prices. And the direct construction costs rival those of competing communities.

The interior design and architecture are both excellent – Design Lines Interiors and Woodley Architects. The execution and results were among the best in more than a decade. This community is a must-see!

Woodbury East, The Irvine Ranch – Another great example of great room living and strong indoor and outdoor relationships was created at Woodbury East on The Irvine Ranch. The community includes a series of products from stacked flats, townhomes, and small-lot detached homes that all offer casual living, outdoor rooms, and great room floorplans. The results: The community was the second-best-selling masterplan in the country in 2010.

Please let us know if you would like to be better by design and more profitable in the future by understanding what consumers want and are willing to pay for in both masterplan and home design. We would enjoy helping you with your future strategies. Ask to purchase a copy of our 2011 survey or to participate in the 2012 consumer survey, “What Do You Call Home?,” which is currently planned to launch this Fall.


John Burns If you have any questions, please contact John Burns at (949) 870-1210 or by email.

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