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Look for New Millennium Is Less Stucco, More Retro


What do home buyers want? Wood siding? Fireplaces? Tile counters? Built-in refrigerators? Selling points come into vogue . . . and go out.

Home builders are always trying to anticipate just what it is buyers will want. In the process, they create a look that helps define an era.

Some of the innovations in the homes of previous decades are now much sought after in resale homes. Others are avoided like crab grass.

Time will tell whether current home builders are creating classics.

Here's what developers have in mind for the new millennium, according to the Meyer's Group, a real estate tracking firm:

Exteriors: There is a definite movement away from mission-style stucco homes with clay-tiled roofs. Futuristic designs are also out.

Builders are incorporating elements from 1930s and '40s-style houses, such as wood siding and less elaborate facades.

Front lawns will give way to intimate, enclosed courtyards.

Interiors: Stark whites and bright colors are still popular with younger, first-time buyers. But builders targeting middle-aged move-up buyers are using warm tones, antique whites, mossy greens and browns.

Heavy, textured fabrics and antique-style wallpapers are also popular.

Traditional fireplaces are in, along with master bedroom suites with elaborate saunas, whirlpool tubs and exercise facilities.

Open floor plans and great rooms will be replaced by defined rooms with nooks and crannies.

Ten-foot ceilings will become popular over vaulted ceilings that make decorating as well as heating and cooling difficult.

If you have a home built in an earlier decade--a home that perhaps hasn't stood the test of time all that well--you may want to do some remodeling.

Here are some ways to update your home to include styles and amenities currently popular in new homes:

Ceilings: Remove acoustic "cottage cheese" ceiling coatings. Replace with a layer of scraped plaster and repaint.

Raise the ceiling height by stealing some overhead space from the attic. But don't get carried away. Vaulted ceilings are out.

Doors: Replace plain interior doors with paneled ones.

Lighting: Install recessed or can lighting.

Flooring: Ceramic tile, hardwood or laminate floorings last longer than carpet and are increasingly popular in new-home entryways, kitchens and family rooms.

Windows: Replace aluminum sliders with French windows and patio doors.

Tech center: Add additional phone jacks, electrical outlets and wiring for a home-computer network.

Kitchen: Updating the kitchen usually pays off well at resale time, as long as you choose wisely and plan to sell before the upgrade becomes worn or outdated.

Kitchen islands, solid-surface counter tops and new cabinets are key elements.


Cost vs. Value

What Southern California homeowners pay on the average for 12 popular remodeling projects and how much value each adds to the average home when sold within a year:


Project Avg. Cost Resale value Cost recouped Minor kitchen remodel $10,079 $15,167 150% Bathroom addition 13,737 15,000 109% Major kitchen remodel 27,719 34,667 125% Family room addition 31,481 34,000 108% Second-story addition 69,649 76,667 110% Attic bedroom 23,836 29,167 122% Master suite 37,574 60,000 160% Bathroom remodel 10,986 9,100 83% Siding replacement 6,000 4,333 72% Deck addition 5,864 5,667 97% Window replacement 6,139 5,067 83% Home office 9,425 7,833 83%


Source: 1998 Remodeling Magazine cost vs. value survey;

Researched by JANICE JONES DODDS / Los Angeles Times

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