Less is the new more. The economic meltdown has created a more value-oriented, quality-conscious consumer—and an abiding interest in sustainable, meaningful design and materials.

Alan Berkowitz, Berkowitz Design

•  More people are realizing homes should be designed in a sustainable manner. I just finished a Craftsman-style home in Kirkwood that doesn’t face the street—instead, it’s positioned for maximum energy efficiency. Clients are also requesting features that allow them to capture and reuse rain water. And I just built a home that uses geothermal energy for HVAC.

•  My clients are interested in more modest living, either by renovating an existing home to make it more efficient, or designing a new one that uses less space. Sustainable design shows respect for the world around us by using natural resources responsibly.

•  Clients want to preserve, enhance and adapt their homes instead of moving or tearing them down and starting over. I recently renovated a home in University City so the owner, a woman in her 80s, can live on a single floor.

•  It will become more common to create ‘inspirational spaces’ within the home, where family members can meditate and contemplate.

Scott Mosby, Mosby Building Arts

•  More people are realizing that bigger is not better; better is better. Instead of a 1,000-square-foot addition, they’re choosing 600 square feet with lots of built-ins to maximize the space.

•  These days, client don’t want rooms to go to waste. So we get lots of requests to turn an unused living or front room into a library, sewing room or artist’s studio. Relatively small changes can make a huge difference in quality of life.

•  Cheap and quick are going out of style. Clients are willing to pay top dollar, but they demand impeccable work, value and reliability.

Bob Robben, Robben Contracting Inc.

•  Homeowners share our desire to preserve the structure’s architectural integrity. If they build an addition on their 1900 home, they don’t want it to look like a post-modern box. They know the value of custom-made millwork and other touches that contribute to authenticity.

•  People are serious about using sustainable materials as much as possible. They even want to know what we do with our trash! We recycle everything we can.

•  Many older clients prefer to stay in their own homes as long as possible. We’re getting more requests to install elevators, create wheelchair-accessible showers for future use, and make other adaptations.

More Special Features articles.