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 October 22, 1999

Gen X tastes influencing builders

BOULDER — Dana Bondy likes to read in a nook in the kitchen and put his feet up on the furniture in his living room. He never would have been able to do that in the one he grew up in, which included a show-piece living room with a vaulted ceiling.

“The living room was the typical room that we were not allowed in,´ said Bondy. “It was probably half the house. Our (home) is more centered around comfort and kicking back. We were more into how things flowed and how spaces were used.”

Bondy is part of a generation – now in their 20s to early 30s — that is settling down and buying or building homes: Home builders should take note of Generation X tastes, says Rick New, the director of residential architecture for Downing, Thorpe & James, a Boulder community design firm.

Dana, 30, and his wife, Charissa, 31, don’t fit the Generation X stereotype of baggy pants, body piercings and laziness. In fact, they are the antithesis of the mold. Dana is a commercial loan officer who wears a shirt and tie to work ,and Charissa works as a quality assurance officer for a pharmaceutical company. She also has a law degree.

“We’re in denial of being part of Generation X,” says Bondy. “There is this image of paying a lot of money to look grunge. In my office, (Generation Xers) probably work the hardest trying to fit in.”

Bondy’s and his wife’s professional lifestyles are more typical of Generation X, says New. In the April edition of HomeBuilder magazine, New wrote that Generation Xers — those between the ages of 20 and 35 — are breaking free from unattractive stereotypes.

“We have discovered that Generation X has been smart financially,” he says. “They are educated and making more money than most of us.” New says typical couples in that age range earn $70,000 a year.

In housing tastes, New says Generation X rebelled against its parents’ tastes.

“The houses of the ’80s tended to be big and showy,” he says, adding that there were huge volume ceilings and grand stairways.

Bondy says they don’t use their dining room. Instead, the couple entertains on the back deck that Bondy built. “What attracted us is at night we could sit on the back porch and stare out at the mountains and the sunset,” he says.

New describes Generation X as liking “small, well-crafted intimate places.” Rather than high ceilings, he says they like 8 to 10-foot ceilings, fewer windows and practical spaces and would trade a flashy glass chandelier for the distressed metal look. He says they like a lot more color and texture.

The Bondys fit that profile. They painted neutral earth tones on the walls. Dana’s favorite room is his 16-month-old daughter’s room, whose walls are splashed with bright yellow paint and loud tropical fish wallpaper.

New says his idea to do an article on Generation X home buyers originated when he served on a panel at a National Association of Home Builders conference. The panel looked at new and emerging markets, and New added Generation Xers to the list.

New says he developed the Generation X profile by observing his 24-year-old brother and other Generation Xers and reading about the group. He claims that in his office there are 25 people that fit the profile he generated.

He geared the article for smaller volume builders, which may only build 15 homes a year.

“Here’s some markets that you guys could be looking at instead of trying to compete with the big guys,” New says to them. “If you build it, they would come.”

New says a good example of Generation X-style housing is Iris Hollow, a Boulder community built on Iris Avenue and Folsom Street behind Kmart. He says the residents like the sense of community and the simple architecture. There is a Montessori school at the center of the neighborhood.

“It’s not just about architecture,” says New. “It’s about the community they live in as well.”

Bondy agrees, describing his neighborhood as “a grown-up college dorm,” where the residents have progressive dinners and kids play with each other. “I like that we can go for a walk with my daughter and there will be other people out walking, too,” he says. “Even people you don’t know. You just stop and start talking to them.”

BOULDER — Dana Bondy likes to read in a nook in the kitchen and put his feet up on the furniture in his living room. He never would have been able to do that in the one he grew up in, which included a show-piece living room with a vaulted ceiling.

“The living room was the typical room that we were not allowed in,´ said Bondy. “It was probably half the house. Our (home) is more centered around comfort and kicking back. We were more into how things flowed and how spaces were used.”

Bondy is part of a generation – now…

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