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They want to feel connected to their family as well as to their media, Lake said. In some places, including California, they also want to feel connected to the great outdoors with windows everywhere and patio rooms that look like their indoor counterparts.

“We realized it truly is different the way people live now,” Lake said. “(Buyers) are not as formal. They want life to be simplified.”

According to experts, today’s home buyers are much more budget conscious, a natural consequence of the recession. They demand more value per square foot. They’re not interested in rooms they will rarely use such as a formal dining room. Most of all, home buyers want a house that “works” for them.

“McMansions put a huge percentage (of square footage) into hallways and formal spaces that are used infrequently,” Lake said. “It adds up to a lot of square footage. We’re building homes with 1,000 less square feet but every room feels bigger because the house isn’t so cut up.”

A walk-through of new luxury home models in Rocklin, Calif., at Standard Pacific’s Manzanita at Whitney Ranch illustrates his point. Priced at $454,000 to $504,000, each home featured a mammoth “great room” combining a large kitchen with family, dining and living room space into one very large area without halls.

Great rooms are the No. 1 requested feature among current new home buyers, real estate experts say.

“Everybody ends up in the kitchen, so why not make room for them?” Lake said. “(Traditionally), most homes defined circulation zones with a lot of hallways. This gave us the opportunity to do something totally different.”

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