A group of Chicago-area builders, developers, architects, designers and brokers put their collective heads together to concoct this list of residential real estate trends for the year ahead. Trends include mindfulness, smaller spaces, minimalist design and catering to both millennials and baby boomers.

  • A group of Chicago-area professionals in residential real estate went trend-spotting for 2016.
  • They identified eight key areas of amenities for buyers and renters.
  • Predictions include a focus on wellness, less expensive master baths, and upscale secondary spaces.

Everyone loves a list at the end of a year.

A group of Chicago-area builders, developers, architects, designers and brokers put their collective heads together to concoct this list of residential real estate trends for the year ahead.

Developers consider mind-body alignment

According to principal at the Chicago/Midwest KTGY Architecture + Planning, David Kennedy, as a holistic approach to health becomes more mainstream, features dedicated to the well-being of both the body and soul are becoming a must-have for renters and buyers alike. Developers are also focusing on mental wellness, with amenities such as meditation rooms or gardens, which can be used for a variety of purposes that promote mental clarity. Adjacent outdoor parks are also highly desired.

Down-to-earth living gains popularity

As farm-to-table increases in popularity, real estate pros say people will be looking to bring that trend closer to home in 2016, according to Shane Halleman, broker at john greene Realtor. At Prairie Crossing, a conservation community located in Grayslake, residents have access to a 100-acre working organic farm.

The trend is also taking root in rental communities, where herb gardens for residents are sprouting as an amenity. New homes are starting to feature potting rooms, extensive storage and shelving for the gardening set, and greenhouses.

Empty nesters don’t stray far from home

Have snowbirds decided to stay grounded close to home? The Midwest experts, including Jerry S. James, president of Edward R. James; Brain Brunhofer, president of Meritus Homes; and Tammy Barry, director of sales and marketing for Heritage Harbor Ottawa Resort, seem to think so. Predictions are that growing number of empty nesters will downsize within the same state rather than move to warmer locales.

Many baby boomers, while empty nesters, continue to work close by, yet want smaller spaces with upscale finishes. For those who are seeking a second home, this crowd is choosing closer-to-home options, including those with access to marinas.

Secondary spaces become more important 

As the median size of new homes has decreased in 2015, buyers in 2016 will look for ways to showcase their personal style within a smaller footprint and likely turn to secondary spaces as an outlet. Buyers are playing up secondary spaces like kitchen pantries and walk-in closets by adding furniture-quality shelving, designer lighting or other functional upgrades, according to Andy Kiener, director of project sales at Kinzie Brokerage.

Game rooms take on new shape

The year ahead will see a revamping of the traditional game room as developers look for new ways to differentiate their projects. Kennedy said this trend has it’s genesis in the college experience of Millennial renters, who became accustomed to amenity-rich student housing.  Trending amenities also include vintage arcade-style gaming space, pool tables and bocce courts, as well as tricked-out space for that garage band.

Master baths are simple and sleek

While bathrooms are popular remodels, they are notorious for not offering a good return on the owner’s investment. Look for 2016 to bring less emphasis on master baths with supersized showers and tubs.

Email Kimberley Sirk.

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