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Children’s fantasies become home design reality

'Secret spaces' top list of sought-after options

When asked to design a house for a family, most architects and home builders tend to focus on pleasing the folks who are footing the bill -- the parents. But when the kids are asked to contribute their ideas, the end result is often enriched, several architects and a production builder said in recent interviews. When Los Angeles-based Pardee Homes took on the challenge of the "Ultimate Family Home" show house for the International Builders Show in 2004, the firm took the unprecedented step of holding focus groups for kids. Not knowing what to expect, they found the kids to be both practical and imaginative, offering ideas that enhanced the design of the house, said Pardee executive Joyce Mason. Realizing that older and younger kids would likely have quite different things to say, Pardee arranged for two groups, one for kids 12 and under, and one for teenagers, Mason said. To inject some "terra firma thinking," the firm arranged for a third focus group of parents While the parents w...

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