Architects, builders creating homes with more cultural awareness

Growing diversity in communities around the country is sparking a trend in home building. 

In fact, some architects and home builders are creating homes with more cultural awareness.

"Then you come into this space, which is now your second secret, kitchen," realtor Bincy Jacob showed us, walking us through a newly built home.

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She says the hidden, second kitchen is called a prep kitchen and is requested by many Asian and East Indian homebuyers.

"The food is amazing, and it’s also very fragrant, and you don’t want that smell to escape into the rest of your open home," said Jacob.

Prep kitchens are one of several features architects and home builders are incorporating into home designs to appeal to buyers of different cultures.  The most common request, they say, is for a multigenerational suite, which is like having a second primary bedroom on the first floor.

"Where parents come and stay with you for a long time, or just permanently live with you," explained Smita Anand with KTGY Architecture. "In the South Asian and Southeast Asian world, there is a lot of respect, and they want to make that space almost on par with the owner's suite."

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Some homes are designed to follow vaastu shastra, a Hindu system of design, or the Chinese feng shui. Followers may prefer homes and front doors facing a particular direction, such as east or south.  And front and back doors should not align.

"That’s a feng shui no no. So in those cases, we are able to move the door to the other side of the living room," said Nicole Jones, an industry expert on new construction.

In a feng shui kitchen, the sink and stove might be set slightly out of alignment.

"Here we have a double bowl sink and as you can see it’s positioned directly in the middle of the island," Jones showed us. "But then you have your stove offset to the right, so it’s not directly in front of your sink."


Some homes are designed with a prayer room, or pooja room, for Hindu buyers.

"They don’t usually like prayer rooms to be over the top of bathrooms or share that east wall. It shouldn't be shared with the bathroom," said Anand.

Architects say the right amenities not only make people feel at home but can create more diverse neighborhoods.

"I think it goes a long way in creating understanding, allowing interaction, finding support of people of diverse backgrounds," said Anand.

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When the homes are resold, realtors say many of these features still have universal appeal.