House Trends Over the Past 50 Years: 1960s to the 2000s

Taking a Look at Home Architecture Styles & Trends from to the 1960s to the Present

1960s split level houseThe past 50 years of residential architecture and construction have been witness to a variety of trends, changes and improvements. It only makes sense since the nature of the family has changed, which would require change in the way one’s home is utilized. Let’s take a look back, decade by decade, to see how home design has evolved into what we see today.

The 1960s – Ranch Homes Still Very Much in Style

Continuing a trend from the 1950’s, most new homes built during this decade were of the single-floor, ranch style. However, as the years went by residential home building started to see some changes.

  • Different Levels: The split-level or multi-level home began to gain popularity. Homeowners realized that it was nice to have bedrooms on a different floor from where they lived their daily lives and entertained guest.
  • Residential Living for an Aging Population: It was during the 1960s the first residential development dedicated entirely for retirees was built. Homeowners of a certain age realized they didn’t need the big home in which they raised their family, and also enjoyed living in a community geared toward meeting the needs of their age group.

During the 1960’s the “nuclear family” was still very much a common trend, with family members living together until going away to college, getting a job and a place of their own or some other life milestone. Grandparents often lived in the family home as the concept of retirement communities only just started to gain popularity.

The 1970s – Homes with Different Levels Gain in Popularity

home trends over 50 yearsDuring this decade, it was still very common for families to continue living together. This, perhaps, prompted home builders to begin offering a variety of home styles with layouts that featured separations between living space, entertainment areas, and sleeping quarters.

  • Levels, Levels and More Levels: The split-level, multi-level and split-entryway became more and more popular as the 1970’s progressed.
  • The Raised Ranch: A combination of styles that featured an entry foyer with a choice … up to the bedrooms and living area, down to the basement/rec room or entertaining area. Some builders included kitchen areas on both levels and the lower are frequently became in-law living.
  • Designated Areas in the Home: The concept of multi-use rooms had not yet really taken hold in with the American homeowners. The kitchen was still for cooking, the living room for TV and the dining room for, well, dining.
  • Housing and Urban Development: HUD began issuing rules and regulations governing not only building safety codes, but also standards of affordable housing.
  • Building Up: Individuals seeking more independence increased demand for apartments and condominiums.

As the 70’s turned into the 80’s the trend for smaller homes for singles and couples who didn’t need all the space a family home had to offer began impacting residential design and construction trends.

The 1980s – Varying Needs Resulted in Variety

The 80’s were definitely a time of change. Society, the family and even the family home went through change during this decade. Designers and builders began offering different styles for both exterior construction and interior layout to suite the changing needs of the homeowner.

  • One Room, Many Uses: The 80’s ushered in the era of the multi-purpose room in homes. Perhaps known previously as a den or rec room, the “Family Room” gained popularity as both a hangout for kids, entertainment area for adult and just an everyday area for relaxing.
  • The Condo Craze: Individuals and couples who wanted home ownership without the responsibility of home or yard maintenance created demand for Condominiums. One and two-bedroom condos in both high-rise buildings and spread out in Townhouse or Duplex style settings became a large section of the home construction sector.
  • Big Homes on Small Lots: New wealth allowed many homeowners to either “tear down” the older home in which they were living or buy a small home on a small lot, and build a new, much larger home. This era of the tear down paved the way for the “McMansion” as owners pushed lot line limits with the construction of new, bigger homes.

The tear-down crazed forced many municipalities to re-examine building and zoning regulations to try and provide some relief to residents who felt the new, bigger two-story home being built were encroaching on their lives.

The 1990s – The Bigger the Better

1990s house trendsAs far as the 1990’s were concerned, the bigger the house the better. New houses were designed and built with skylights, vaulted ceilings, and two-story foyers.

  • Bigger and Bigger: As we mentioned, construction of new homes was geared toward building bigger homes with open concepts.
  • The Island: The Kitchen island was in huge demand during this decade, and has remained popular even to this day.
  • Rooms that were Great: The 1990’s and its bigger houses introduced the Great Room, a big and comfortable gathering place for family and friends.
  • Bigger Homes Equals Bigger Master Suites: The Master Suite really gained in popularity during this decade. Few new homes were built without the master bedroom and connecting bathroom with dual sinks and separate toilet area.

The housing boom was really taking off during the 1990’s. Big, two-story homes with full basements were going up to meet the demands of buyers. Entire residential communities were being designed with these big homes with open concepts.

The 2000s – Doing More with Less

bathroom remodeling exampleAs the new millennium arrived new home construction was geared toward smaller homes, but still with the open concept and versatility introduced in the previous decade.

  • Smaller Rooms Sizes: Homeowners still wanted (and needed) space for families, but the large houses built the previous 2 decades proved to be too expensive.
  • Bathrooms Still a Priority: Despite a demand for smaller homes, designs and construction of homes with at least 2.5 baths remained the norm.
  • Going Green: Energy efficient water heaters, lighting and other utilities were making the scene.
  • Making Improvements: Rather than tearing down homes to build new ones, owners turned more toward home improvement projects to enhance the comfort and value of their home.

There’s no doubt the past 50 years in home design and construction have witnessed supplied us with many changes. What the next 50 years will bring is anyone’s guess.

What you can count on is the professional expertise of Reliable Home Improvement to help you accomplish any home renovation or new home construction project.

For more recent trends, visit our Home Remodeling Gallery.

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