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Home style has trended toward casual in the 2000s

Goodbye to the armoire and the dining room (in many cases, to the living room, too). Hello to the home office. • Repurposed rooms, recycled materials and an increasingly relaxed decorating style characterize the end of a decade that began as a party on a grand scale. • In the past 10 years, homes have become more laid-back and user-friendly. The most well-liked rooms now are the home office, mud room and media room, according to a survey by the American Institute of Architects. What we don't want so much anymore? Three-car garages, guest rooms and formal living rooms. Associated Press

Living large: At the start of the 2000s, many jumped on the real estate thrill ride. McMansions, gobblers of space and energy dollars, became ubiquitous. Now, we're rethinking how we live, says Jennifer Boles, founder of The Peak of Chic design blog and contributing editor to House Beautiful.

"Some homes had five or six rooms dedicated to living and relaxing, despite the fact that most of us really only spend time in two or three," she says.

Oversized furniture like sectionals and big coffee tables, popular at the start of the decade, are being scaled down.

However, one oversized space remains popular. "Spa baths have staying power," says Tampa kitchen and bath designer Jamie Goldberg. "They tie into several current trends: creating comfortable environments for aging, bringing back the luxuries of travel and spending more time in our homes."

Living alfresco: "The outdoor room's really been one of the biggest changes. Everyone has an outdoor space now, even if it's tiny," says Cheminne Taylor-Smith of Elle Decor. "With seating, dining, even kitchens and sleeping pieces, these rooms are treated like their indoor counterparts."

Fire pits, weather-resistant fabrics and furniture, and commercial-quality heaters extend the outdoor season.

Living green: After a long fallow period, gardening took off in the past few years. From containers to victory gardens, we've got our hands back in the dirt. We're concerned about the provenance of produce, and about our carbon footprint — how many thousands of miles did that tomato travel?

Indoors, Boles notes, "being green moved from the fringe into mainstream design." We started demanding paint and other home products that were eco-friendly, and sustainably harvested wood became a selling feature.

Living creatively: We're spending about $260 billion a year on home improvement projects, according to the Housing Industry Research Council. That's up about $90 billion from 2000. Empowered by informative blogs, magazines and TV shows, the DIY boom continues.

We're turning linen closets into offices, embellishing Ikea stock furniture, and repurposing what we already own in clever, practical ways. Designing on a dime, or close to it, has become a hobby.

Living relaxed: We've loosened up. It's okay to have the computer and TV in the heart of the home. There has been a shift toward a more practical, casual lifestyle.

As designer Mark Hampton says, "Real comfort, visual and physical, is vital to every room."

Suites of furniture? Passe. Untouchable formal rooms? Over. We're comfortable mixing and matching — a major shift from the '80s and '90s when people mostly picked one style for the whole home.

Home style has trended toward casual in the 2000s 12/25/09 [Last modified: Friday, December 25, 2009 3:30am]

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