Parade of Homes reflects our changing lifestyles

Fewer formal dining rooms, more mudrooms in today’s new homes

When visitors tour the 31 stops on this year’s Parade of Homes, they’ll notice a host of popular design trends, whether it’s sliding barn doors, see-through fireplaces or stone accent walls.
But the homes on this year’s Parade, which begins Saturday and runs through June 24, also reflect an evolution in the way we live, says Jared Erb, designer with Custom Home Group.
In the nearly 30 years since the Parade of Homes began, some rooms of the home have grown in prominence, while others have all but disappeared.
And still other rooms have only come into existence over the last decade or so.
A case in point, Erb says, is the mudroom.
“Most houses from the ’50s to the ’90s really didn’t have a mudroom at all,” he says. “If the home had a garage, you walked straight from the garage into the kitchen.”
Mudrooms are often part of a larger “family service space,” Erb says, connecting the garage to the main residence. These spaces might include cabinetry, a tech area for charging electronics, and a place for sitting groceries. Often the space has a separate powder room and even a walk-in pantry.
So how important is a mudroom and a walk-in pantry to today’s homebuyers?
“Most people are moving just for that reason,” Erb says.
While some mudrooms can incorporate laundry space, Erb says most homebuyers still prefer a defined laundry room — and that room is also getting bigger, with cabinets for storage and space for hanging, drying and ironing clothes.
“Some people do want a second-floor laundry room, but it seems like more active families still like it on the first floor,” he says.
While a second-floor laundry puts you closer to where you typically take off your dirty clothes and store your clean clothes, a first-floor laundry makes it more convenient to do wash while cooking or watching TV.
“It just depends on how you live,” he says.
Another room that reflects how we live is the bathroom. We may not have time to relax in the soaking tubs of the ’90s anymore, but that doesn’t mean we want to give up luxury.
“A lot of people are going for that spa retreat,” Erb says of the master bath. “It’s not just a matter of function and use anymore. People just want to feel relaxed. They don’t want to feel cramped.”
To that end, showers are getting larger and larger, with many walk-in models designed to accommodate more than one person.
In terms of secondary bathrooms, the Jack and Jill design is making a huge comeback, he says. Part of the appeal is privacy, because they allow one person to use a vanity, for instance, while another is showering behind closed doors.
One place where today’s homeowners seem to want less privacy is in the main living area, where open floor plans still rule the day. Today’s homes often forgo a formal dining room in favor of a large living space that incorporates the kitchen, a dining area and the great room, making interaction easier — especially when entertaining.
Erb notes that people seem to require a larger, formal dining space only a few times a year, so they don’t want to waste that square footage on such limited use.
Also, with the open floor plan, there is ample room to extend a dining table when company does come. Plus, homeowners can take advantage of another popular trend: the large kitchen island.
“They just keep getting bigger and bigger,” Erb says. “It makes a nice serving area if you’re having a dinner party.”
A trend toward larger islands — and kitchens — simply acknowledges one aspect of our lifestyle that really hasn’t changed all that much over the years: When we’re entertaining, people gravitate toward the kitchen.
“Everyone’s going to end up there anyway,” Erb says. “You might as well make the space for it.”
To see the latest in home design, check out the Parade of Homes tour from June 16-24. Hours are 5 to 8 p.m. weekdays and noon to 6 p.m. weekends. For more information, including details and directions for all 31 homes, visit or download the free ParadeSmart app.