Whether it’s poring over spreadsheets or snoring the night away, to each new room its own specific task

Rough day at the office? Head home to the meditation room to depressurize. Husband sawing logs at 50 decibels at 2 a.m.? Send him next door to the snoring room. Say you never heard of such rooms? Well, the way things are going, you will soon.

A survey of 923 real estate agents rated a lineup of “special function rooms”– specifically, rejuvenation rooms, snoring rooms, second home offices and “caves” – as hot housing trends for 2007.

A cave is a “personal, dedicated space for one person in a household [where he or she] can go and work on projects or ‘chill’ without being disturbed,” says Mark Nash, the Chicago-based real estate broker who conducted the poll and author of 1001 Tips for Buying and Selling a Home (South-Western Educational, 2005).

Rejuvenation rooms are a “one-stop space” for exercising, meditation or yoga, and usually include a sauna or fancy steam shower, he says. A snoring room, a smaller bedroom attached to the master bedroom, is exactly what its name implies.

“I totally see a trend,” says Lori McGuire, a RE/MAX real estate agent in Orange County, Calif. A lot of upper-end builders, specifically, offer optional meditation rooms in upgraded packages for their clients, she says.

“Stress levels are higher and higher, and people are hibernating in their homes. They’re using their homes more and finding a lot of comfort there. So they’re figuring out what is most important in their lives and creating spaces that offer a better quality of life – creating a sense of escape inside their houses,” McGuire says.

Other factors also are at play as special function rooms proliferate: More people are working from home, more extended families are popping up (with in-laws or adult children returning to the nest) and parents are taking action to encourage children to play in the friendly confines of their own residences.

Judith Wilson, owner of Los Angeles-based Judith Wilson Interior Design Group, dressed up a room for one client to resemble a ’50s diner, complete with black-and-white checkerboard floor and soda fountain.

“The more fun things the better,” says Wilson. “People with families want to have their kids’ friends hang out at their house. That’s a big thing. Then they always know where their kids are.”
McGuire worked with clients who not only had a separate family room for their three children but a computer room just for kids with three stations where they could do homework.

You name it, McGuire has seen it: Yoga rooms, spa rooms, meditation rooms, cigar rooms, pet rooms, safe rooms, hobby rooms, gift-wrapping rooms and others. One very high-end home in Newport Beach, Calif., had a jewelry display room, another a beauty salon. These spaces range from small and plain to looking to big, ornate and obviously tailor-made for their purpose.

Almost every upper-end house has a media room, she says. Media rooms vary from cozy family dens to what are in essence home theaters “with movie screens and equipment, popcorn machines and theater seats – the whole thing,” says Wilson.

Wilson has designed a number of the home media oases, usually with soundproofing (insulation in the floors, walls and ceilings – “When you go in and shut the door, you can crank up the music and no one will hear you,” she says), tiered seating and “all different sorts of equipment – surround sound and all the components.” Everything is controlled by a remote.

“I try to make those rooms fit a certain feeling, depending on whether it’s for a movie producer or a family,” Wilson says. That could mean everything from Las Vegas-style glitz or dark walls, sconces and mood lighting.

On the other side of the coin, meditation rooms (usually around 10 feet-by-10 feet) are gaining popularity.

“I just recently did a prayer room in someone’s house. The clients wanted very specific things and wanted them because they held prayer services in the room everyday,” says Wilson.

Just what does a prayer room look like? It depends. “Colors play an important role and furniture and kneeling space,” says Wilson, but specifics vary by ethnicity and religion. A meditation room may have minimalist surroundings, while other prayer rooms may contain alters, arches and raised sections on which to place candles gifts.
“Each one is a very personal thing,’ says Wilson.

Which of these “new” rooms will become de rigueur for the average American home is unknown, with one notable exception: the home office. According to the second quarter 2006 American Institute of Architects Home Design Trends Survey, home offices topped the list of most popular special-function room in the house today, with 51 percent of respondents rating home offices as increasing in popularity.

That’s a significant jump from the 47 percent who rated them as rising in popularity in 2005, says Kermit Baker, AIA chief economist. Baker goes on to say the jump likely has two causes: The continued long-term trend of more people working at home and the significant hike in energy costs over the last two years.

“That may have changed some of the fundamental dynamics – not in terms of who is self-employed or working at home but in the number of people working at home one to two days a week … or not going in on weekends,” says Baker.

But today’s homeowner is tweaking even the home office concept. It’s no longer good enough to have just one.

One of Wilson’s clients wanted his-and-her home offices. “They just loved the idea,” she says. In their old shared office, “when one was talking the other couldn’t, so that’s a real big deal.”
Think of it as the business equivalent of a snoring room.

© CTW Features