Despite the conventional wisdom on the popularity of larger houses, the survey showed the average dream-size home was a spacious, but not excessive 2,500 square feet. And almost half the respondents—49 percent—characterized their dream houses as safe, comfortable havens instead of designer showhouses. But that cozy abode is no log cabin, either. When it comes to building materials, consumers don’t want to hold back. The finest authentic materials, including marble, granite and real hardwoods such as maple and cherry, ranked high on the list of luxury elements for a dream house. In fact, only 25 percent of the respondents would be willing to substitute less expensive look-alikes if they couldn’t afford the real thing. They’d rather postpone or redesign their projects or trade off on home size to afford the best.
The American Dream House Survey was conducted by Taylor Nelson Sofres Intersearch, Princeton, NJ, for the Hardwood Information Center, an industry trade group (www.hard woodinfo.com). A national sampling of 1,029 Americans found that only one out of three people—35 percent—felt their current home measured up to the one in their dreams.
The high-end home improvements that consumers felt would bring their current digs closer to ideal, or impress friends and family, centered on the kitchen and bathroom, which most housing experts say offer the best payback on investment.
An impressive 50 percent of the respondents wanted a custom kitchen with real hardwood cabinets and marble bathrooms with a whirlpool tub. Other luxury designer elements, such as a professional stove and appliances, granite kitchen countertops, genuine hardwood floors and paneling, and a state-of-the-art home entertainment center scored high marks with more than 40 percent of the consumers contemplating their ideal living quarters.
THE SIMPLE LIFE
Predictably, 50 percent of the respondents opted for a brand new house built to their specifications, but 20 percent dreamed of a charming old restored period house. Where to live out the dream? Half of all those asked opted for a house in the country, with the beach running a distant second at 19 percent.
When asked how their lifestyles would change with a move into their dream houses respondents were split with half planning to do more home entertaining, cooking and gardening or pursue hobbies and interests such as woodworking or photography. Half believe it would make little or no difference. A third of those asked to envision their dream houses—32.5 percent—yearned for a low-maintenance home they could enjoy in retirement.
The survey, executed by an independent market research firm, found that while the consumer wish list grows longer, so does the wait. Not surprisingly, money and time stand between the majority of the respondents and their perfect dreams homes. A sobering 64 percent cite finances as an issue, and 61 percent feel it would take 10 years or more to save enough to buy or build. FUTURE FURNITURE DEMANDS
More Homes, More Income, More Spending
As the number of households in the United States and real
disposal income per household grows over the next decade,
household furniture spending will grow by 23 percent from
2001 to 2011, or from $64.1 billion a year to $78.8 billion
a year (in constant 2001 dollars). Those findings, along with
several predictions regarding U.S. furniture demands and trends,
are found in “The American Demand for Household Furniture
and Trends” (seventh edition), a book that analyzes
economic and demographic forces impacting the future course
of the U.S. furniture market. The report was prepared by Aktrin
Americas, High Point, NC, a report writing and international
consulting firm dedicated to the furniture industry.
The report finds that as the result of faster growth in the population among those over 40 years of age, the number of households is expected to grow by close to 11 percent, a pace slightly faster than the 8.4 percent expected for the total population as a whole. Likewise, real disposal income per household will increase by about one percent per year over the same period.
Some of the predictions the reports makes based on these assumptions include:
• The highest growth rates in household furniture spending will occur in Nevada (47.2 percent), Arizona (39.6 percent), Utah (37.8 percent), Florida (32 percent), Colorado (31.1 percent) and Idaho (30.1 percent). These states are expected to be major attractions for the migrating U.S. population.
• The lowest growth rates in household furniture spending are projected for the District of Columbia (7.2 percent), Connecticut (14.1 percent), and New York (13.1 percent). These low rates reflect the effects of federal cutbacks in Washington and net migration from the New York and Connecticut areas.
• The California household furniture market, the largest in the United States at this time, will remain No. 1 in 10 years’ time.