New home buyers are coming back, but they donâ€™t want the same old â€œMcMansion.â€ They want a house they can use. That means a â€œgreat roomâ€ where everyone can gather - and a spa-like bathroom to escape from the crowd. But usefulness also extends to lots of storage space for big-box buys. It means â€œdrop-off zonesâ€ for recharging smartphones and pet-friendly â€œpuppy showers.â€ It means a home office actually designed for work and media centers made for play. It means big closets and little nooks. These new homes combine practicality with the way we want to live now. Buyers want to feel connected to their families as well as to their media, In some places, they also want to feel connected to the great outdoors with windows everywhere and patio rooms that look like their indoor counterparts. Buyers are not as formal. They want life to be simplified and are much more budget conscious, a natural consequence of the recession. They demand more value per square foot. Theyâ€™re not interested in rooms they will rarely use such as a formal dining room. Most of all, home buyers want a house that â€œworksâ€ for them. McMansions put a huge percentage (of square footage) into hallways and formal spaces that are used infrequently, it adds up to a lot of square footage. Homes are about 1,000 less square feet but every room feels bigger because the house isnâ€™t so cut up. Great rooms are the No. 1 requested feature among current new home buyers. Everybody ends up in the kitchen, so why not make room for them? Traditionally, most homes defined circulation zones with a lot of hallways. This gave builders the opportunity to do something totally different. One kitchen/great room combo had space for three dining sets - one adjacent to the kitchen, another for more formal gatherings in the living area and a third near a media wall that could double as a game table. Separating the kitchen from the great room, a 14-foot island served as a buffet and breakfast bar. Every eating area could see the media wall, anchored by a 70-inch flat-screen TV. Meant for entertaining, this great room can hold a crowd. Itâ€™s the perfect kind of room for a large family. Dining, cooking, communication; theyâ€™re all connected. We used to be more compartmentalized. Now, people want flow. Nationally, the average new house still measures 2,480 square feet. A mid-size home is now considered anything between 2,500 and 3,000 square feet.