Every time I plop down in the Morris chair near the fireplace in my living room, I think of the day, maybe 15 years ago, when I first learned that the space my parents once called the parlor was on its way out.

At least, that's what Gopal Ahluwalia, who was vice president of research of the National Association of Home Builders for 32 years, kept telling me.

As I wrote in 2002, "The formal living room is becoming a thing of the past as new-home buyers, always seeking more living space, are sacrificing it for additional square footage in the kitchen and family room."

I'm looking at this on my iPad as I click on the gas fireplace in front of me in the living room because I think it would make things a bit homier.

The eagerness to get rid of the living room was not shared by all markets, especially in older areas of the country, where buyers are concerned about the effects such an absence would have on resale.

In these areas, most new-home buyers prefer a living room and a family room of equal size. If the two can be seen from the kitchen table, the open floor plan is all the better.

Living rooms come in handy at holiday time, when you put all the leaves in the dining room table and move it around so it sits in both rooms, accommodating diners with expanding middles.

Frankly, a house with 2,000 square feet and a rather open floor plan is about enough for me.

As far as trends go, on one hand I hear that houses are getting smaller, but what I see in both city and suburbs is that they are getting larger.

Who knows trends better than residential architects, whom homeowners actually hire to design houses with the latest bells and whistles?

Outdoor living space, mud rooms, and home offices top the list of special-function rooms in the American Institute of Architects' Home Design Trends Survey of activity during the second quarter of 2016 that focused on emerging home features, systems, and technologies.

"Heavy investment in outdoor living spaces, mud rooms, and home offices indicate that consumers are placing a premium on practicality and functionality," said the institute's chief economist, Kermit Baker.

"Things have changed a lot from a decade ago, when home theaters and exercise rooms were some of the most popular special-function rooms in homes," Baker said.

I like the idea of mud rooms. When I come from the back garden, my shoes are muddy, and I come right into the kitchen. It has an easy-to-clean quarry-tile floor, but still a mud room would be useful.

Outdoor space would be OK, too. It has long been a feature of homes in warmer climates that get to use them year-round.

There is nothing neater than sitting next to a fireplace near the swimming pool on a January night in a Las Vegas suburb with a million stars above you.

The home office has been an on-again, off-again feature over the last 20 years, but that's where this column, and everything else I write for the Inquirer, comes from.

I saw my first home theater at a Toll Bros. development in the mid-1990s and was amazed. It had a bar, a popcorn machine, and those comfortable theater seats. It also predated streaming video, tablets, and iPhones. Therefore, it is now obsolete.

The loss of the home exercise room, too, is understandable. And, from my own experience over the last six years belonging to the Katz JCC in Cherry Hill, it has nothing to do with working out.

We have a home exercise area in the basement for emergencies, such as snowstorms, but as I learned early on, working out regularly at the gym is two parts exercising and eight parts socializing.

215-854-2472@alheavens