Home Design and House Plan Trends in Southern California

by joshe on August 28, 2012

For many people in the housing industry, design trends follow the prevailing winds from west to east, which would make California an engine of new ideas in the areas of home design and house plans. Assuming the weather vane is still pointing in the same direction, let’s take a look at how Southern California homes are currently being designed and built to get a sense of emerging housing trends in new home markets around the country.

Defined Outdoor Spaces

We’re not talking about simple front porches or back patios here, but rather, clearly articulated outdoor rooms that are extensions of indoor living spaces. At Shea Homes Veranda in Orange County, California, they are called “outdoor living rooms”, where folding glass doors, aka “disappearing walls,” create seamless, wide-open connections between indoor and outdoor spaces. This dynamic expansion of a floor plan can be further distinguished be amenities like cooking appliances, an outdoor bar, and a fireplace.

Goodbye to Formal Dining Rooms

Formal living rooms have been on the decline for years, but now it looks like formal dining rooms are also falling out of favor. A compartmented dining room, which often links to the kitchen via a butler’s pantry, or small hallway, is now commonly regarded as an isolated space that’s too disconnected from the more dynamic areas of the home. An increasing number of California house plans are featuring large great rooms – big, casual, social arenas where dining, lounge, and kitchen are joined. The extra square footage dedicated to great rooms means goodbye to the formal dining room of yesteryear.

Flex Spaces

Speaking of great rooms, they are increasingly becoming blank canvases upon which homeowners can generate a variety of flexible room configurations. The room arrangements may vary dramatically with the demographics of the residents, from large families who want more play space to boomer couples that may envision a variety of functions. The main point is that these adaptable rooms, like those at Shea SPACES can become creative expressions of the homeowners’ lifestyles, and that the floor plans adjust to people who live there rather than people adjusting to the floor plans.

Multigenerational House Plans/Universal Design

With the rise of multigenerational households (different generations of one family living together), universal design is increasingly becoming an area of focus for architects and builders. The idea is to create house plans that comfortably accommodate a wide variety of ages and physical abilities – from toddlers to elders. These adaptations might include no-step entries, wider hallways, and super “in-law units” or “granny suites” that have entire living spaces (bedroom, lounge, kitchenette, full bath) situated on the first level.

Energy Efficiency on the Rise

California isn’t the only new home marketplace focused on energy-efficient home design, but it’s one of the states leading the charge in terms of legislating resource efficiency. For example, starting in 2014, all newly built homes in California will be required to be “solar-ready,” which refers to south-facing roofs that can optimally accommodate solar panel installation.

If California is on the green building forefront, Shea Homes is one of the new home builders on the front lines. Shea designs energy-efficient houses built with eco-friendly materials that result in greater comfort, reduced utility bills, high-quality indoor air. Shea Homes Active Lifestyle division has even created a line of Net Zero homes, SheaXero, at its communities, where the houses generate enough renewable energy on site to equal or exceed its energy needs. That means zero paid on electrical bills every month. Now there’s a housing trend that could sweep the nation.

Discover more California home design and house plan trends at Sheahomes.com




{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda Maddox September 21, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Agree with all your ideas! The one thing that concerns me is when the builders are putting solar panels on top of the roofs. They look terrible and destroys the look of the neighborhood. Not saying you are doing it. You are always are ahead in your thinking!


Meridith Doucette September 26, 2013 at 9:31 am

Thanks for your comment Linda. We try to reach a balance on our homes of maximum energy efficiency and minimum impact to the look of the home so we use lower roof racks for the solar when possible. There are also integrated solar panels, that are built in to the roof, but those are very expensive.


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