Spice kitchens, more bedrooms, extra bathrooms, main floor bedrooms with ensuites, and prayer rooms.
Calgary builders are reconfiguring floor plans to accommodate the growing demand for these amenities in homes as the city grows and the ethnic, cultural and multi-generational makeup of families changes.
In the new community of SkyView Ranch in the city's northeast, two new Excel Homes show homes are proving popular.
"Our two show homes are based on what everyone has been telling me they want," says Cathey Tracey, senior area manager with Excel Homes. "They're saying, 'We want bigger homes with more bedrooms and more bathrooms.'"
The Highwood and the Branford are becoming their two bestselling homes, she says.
The 3,165-square-foot Highwood show home starts at $509,900.
"We built a five-bedroom, fiveand-a-half baths with a double kitchen and a spice kitchen, and we even put in the dream laundry room, so it's got two sets of laundry with a sink upstairs," she says.
Each bedroom has an ensuite and the spice kitchen is an extra cooking area to help contain stronger scents. "The family is staying together longer, or they have extended family living with them," she says.
"It has a private loft upstairs. You can even have two upper family rooms."
The second show home, the 2,414-square-foot Branford, features four bedrooms and three-and-a-half baths. It starts at $444,900.
Since the models went on sale in March, Excel has sold at least eight or nine homes of each plan, says Tracey.
Many buyers live with extended families and about 70 per cent of the market has an Asian background, she says.
Space was the driving need for homebuyers Cary Serack, a city transit bus operator, and his wife Lily, an accountant.
"My big needs were a house with five bedrooms," says Cary.
"I've got a mother-in-law and three kids, and a wife. We were looking for something that would accommodate us and have a guest room."
His family from Saskatchewan, Edmonton and Washington state will now be able to stay with the Seracks on visits.
"I don't like small houses," he says. "I don't like small cramped spaces. I'm a big area kind of guy."
Serack grew up in Saskatchewan with six brothers, a sister and a stepsister.
"For us, it was always crowded," he says.
"We weren't a family with a lot of anything. My parents struggled for many years trying to keep food on the table."
A roomy kitchen that helps create a group atmosphere and sense of community appeals to him.
"When I was younger, I worked in restaurants where they have larger kitchens," he says.
"If you have a smaller kitchen, it makes it harder to do anything because you're stumbling over everything.
"With a bigger area, it actually allows you to cook more easily. Even though there's more to clean up, it's easier to keep clean.
"I like cooking noodles from scratch, bread, so for me, having that big surface to work on is better."
The only aspect of the Highwood plan Serack wasn't keen on were the bedrooms over the garage.
Instead, he turned the bonus room into a bedroom and moved another bedroom to the upstairs loft. The area over the garage became a large playroom with access to a main bathroom.
"My kids are (ages) three, five and seven, and I want them to have a good play area," says Serack. "With the loft, it makes for two fair-sized bedrooms.
My two sons can go in one and my daughter can go in the other one. With the bathroom upstairs, they can share."
Serack's mother-in-law has lived with the family for the past five years. She will have her own ensuite with her bedroom.
Homes by Avi recently developed three pre-planned options for its Caldwell floor plan to meet rising multi-generational or cultural needs.
The Caldwell is one of the new show homes in Sherwood in the city's northwest.
The 2,312-square-foot house has four bedrooms, three-anda-half baths and a two-car garage, and starts at $492,000.
"A lot of families, particularly East Indian, have very large extended families," says Terry Jackson, area sales manager for Homes by Avi in Sherwood.
"In many cases, they may have a parent or parents living with them who could be quite elderly. They really can't go up or down stairs, so another need that has come up is a mainfloor bedroom.
"They would also like a full bathroom. Most homes just have room for a half-bath on the main floor."
The floor plan reworks the Caldwell's dining room/flex room at the front of the house into a bedroom, as well as altering the entrance foyer to make space for a full four-piece bathroom.
The flex room can also be turned into a dedicated prayer room, a request Jackson has discussed with a client.
With many Calgary families of Asian background, demand for spice kitchens is on the rise.
"The food is very spicy and aromatic," says Jackson.
"The dilemma with that is it's very pervasive. It gets through the whole house into clothes and closets."
A second kitchen beside the main kitchen helps manage strong scents. A spice kitchen requires a gas range, a sink and range hood vented to the outside.
"We have two variations of that theme, one with an inclusive pantry and one with a shared pantry to the kitchen," says Jackson.
In Excel's Highwood floor plan, the spice kitchen has two pocket doors - one to the main kitchen and one to the dining room.
The pantry is accessed through the spice kitchen.
In homes that do not install the spice kitchen, the area is a butler's pantry, keeping the sink and the countertop, but not including the extra stove and fan.
Serack, who has moved more than 30 times in his life, is looking forward to this last move from Canyon Meadows in southwest Calgary to his new home in the northeast late this year.
Besides having plenty of space for his multi-generational family and a large, friendly kitchen, Serack will be close to friends and his outdoor pursuits of hunting and fishing, which are all off to the north and east of the city.
"This is the first time I've built a house and I have no intention of moving," he says.