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Special Section - Spring Home: What makes a dwelling a home? The answer is changing
Mar 10

Associated Press

What makes a house or an apartment a home?

For some of us, home is a walk-up apartment that we share with a roommate or two. For others, it might be a center-hall house on a leafy suburban street, or a modern glass box overlooking the sea. The variations are endless. The only real universal feature is a roof over your head; everything else that distinguishes a home from mere shelter is different for each of us.

And evolving technology and lifestyles are changing what we want our homes to be.

``With so many entertainment and smart technology options at our fingertips, we find homeowners are spending more time at home. People are focusing on how they truly use a space to reflect how they live, versus what the room is `supposed to be,''' says Kerrie Kelly, an interior design expert for the online real-estate marketplace Zillow.

For instance, she notes, dining rooms are no longer just a place to eat. ``Adults work from this space and kids do homework here, making a single-use room more multi-purpose,'' Kelly says. ``We also see `library rooms' in lieu of formal dining rooms, with more attention to comfortable seating for taking in a variety of media. And lastly, the laundry room isn't just for washing clothes any more. Pet-washing stations are popping up more frequently instead of laundry tubs.''

For city dwellers, she's noticed an increase in conversions of loft-like work spaces into living spaces.

``People are interested in living in an urban environment in order to enjoy culture without getting in the car,'' she says. ``Easily accessible restaurants, entertainment and shopping appeals to all age groups.''

The retailer IKEA surveyed people across the globe for its 2018 ``Life at Home'' report, and found that 1 in 4 respondents said they work more from home than ever before. Nearly 2 in 3 said they'd rather live in a small home in a great location than in a big home in a less ideal spot.

Jeffrey Dungan, an international architect based in Mountain Brook, Alabama, reports that more clients want to use their homes for creative pursuits.

``There's this idea that with the increasing popularity of the Maker movement, and people turning hobbies into successful businesses _ whether it's a side hustle or primary income _ the home is more and more becoming a place of business,'' he says. ``Home is the place where you can do what you love unapologetically, and as more people turn what they love to do into a business, then in a way their business becomes home.''

Dungan worked on a home in Texas where the client wanted a sewing room placed right off the master suite. Other clients are also asking for dedicated spaces such as yoga and art studios.

In IKEA's report, Alison Blunt, co-director of the Centre for Studies of Home at Queen Mary University of London, says there are essentially five things that matter to people when they consider the ideal home: ``Comfort, security, a sense of autonomy and ownership, and the capacity for privacy. Home at its core goes back to a sense of belonging.''

A survey by the home-furnishings retailer Article in 2018 asked people what it took for them to finally call a dwelling a home. Many responders said it takes a couple of holidays, barbecues, family visits, big sporting events and game nights before they really feel ``at home.'' So feather the proverbial nest however you like, and have fun while you do it. Then invite somebody over.

By The Associated Press, Copyright 2019