Now trending: Flexible storage, seamless space

Project designed by Deborah Pierce AIA, CAPS, Pierce Lamb Architects; Photo: Kathy Tarantola Photography.

What’s important to owners building homes today?

Get the architect’s perspective in a survey of residential design trends. Read what Ellen Perko AIA, co-chair of the BSA Residential Design Committee; Mark Hutker FAIA, principal and founder of Hutker Architects; and Josh Safdie AIA, co-chair of the BSA Access Committee, have to say about what they’re seeing in home renovations, additions, and new construction.

This article is part of a series.

  1. Now trending: Flexible storage, seamless space
  2. Now trending: A balanced, meaningful approach
  3. Now trending: The ease of universal design

This content first appeared in the Domicile issue of ArchitectureBoston magazine, winter 2016, volume 19, issue no. 4. All rights reserved. For more on Domicile, visit

Flexible storage, seamless space

By Ellen Perko AIA

In the design of custom homes, less is more. The old expectation of formal living and dining rooms has given way to open, informal spaces that flow from one area to the next. These spaces are intended to have multiple uses from day to day, and in order to allow for this flexibility, customized storage in a variety of sizes and configurations becomes key. There needs to be a lot of storage located in the right places.

Sometimes it can seem like a splurge to have cabinetry custom designed for a space and specific needs. If there is adequate space to store children’s toys and other items, then a room can seamlessly transform from a play area to an adult space for entertaining. Then, when a family downsizes a home into fewer rooms, the added storage allows for more open, less cluttered space.

This attention to quality of storage goes hand in hand with a noticeable focus on aging. In other areas of the world, it’s culturally typical for several generations to live together under the same roof. However, in the United States, the benefits of multi­generational living are just starting to be realized.

Now, when designing a home, some clients will request an area that initially may be a first-floor guest room with an en-suite bathroom. As the family evolves, an older parent may move into this room for a visit or even an extended stay. As the years continue, this same room may transform into a master suite for the homeowners so that they do not have to climb stairs in their elder years. In one case, our firm transformed a portion of an existing home into a sitting room and bedroom with an accessible bath as well as a small galley kitchen. This space can be used as a guest suite, as a first-floor bedroom for the homeowners, or for live-in help, enabling the couple to remain in their home for many years to come. It does not take an extraordinary amount of added equipment or hardware to make a space accessible. Providing an adequate area to move around among fixtures, along with well-placed blocking located within walls, will allow a space to accommodate changing future needs.

We are seeing this trend more and more—houses designed to age and adapt with homeowners’ changing needs.