Eight Ways COVID-19 Could Change Home Design

I recently heard something interesting: COVID-19 may impact future home design.  Since then, I’ve seen passing references to this phenomenon in various publications. 

This may be, in part, due to the media’s inclination to link to all things topical – and really, with COVID dominating the news, it sometimes feels like there’s not much else to discuss these days.

That said, our notion of “home” has always been dictated by how we live.  For example, consider the shift from distinct, formal dining rooms to floor plans that facilitate kitchen parties, or the rise of home offices and ensuite baths.  Given our evolving lifestyles, it’s quite possible that this pandemic may also impact the way we live, either in the short or longer-term.

So what changes could be in store?  It’s hard to say – but fun to consider.  Here are a few that come to mind:

  1. More flexible spaces.  Open-concept floor plans are amazing, but what happens when you’re trying to control a virus?  While the advice has been to quarantine an ill person in a bedroom, could living spaces also flex to meet our needs?  It’s an issue that will also be considered in commercial design, especially where private offices have morphed into massive rooms with open-air cubicles and communal lunch areas.

  2. Wellness spaces.  I recently saw that meditation spaces are becoming a trend in landscape design.  For those of us lucky enough to have a yard or garden space, a dedicated area for reflection might be just the ticket when we need a few minutes of quiet (even just to hide from the kids, because #homeschooling).  As interest in health and self-sufficiency increases, we’ll also be looking for areas to grow things that are fresh and beautiful, from cut flowers to vegetables and herbs.

  3. Work from home spaces.  While these are an obvious need for many families right now, many households also have a new challenge: finding quiet, private workspace for more than one adult and, often, more than one child.  In the current environment, a single home office just isn’t cutting it.  And while we don’t anticipate homeschooling forever (please, God, no!), having multiple connected-but-separate work zones could continue to serve us well in the future as we navigate homework and working from home.

  4. Storage spaces.  Even as stores gradually begin opening, I suspect many of us will continue to purchase groceries and household supplies in fewer trips, buying more each time.  But when you’re buying extra flour and toilet paper (you know who you are), where do you store your supply?  Extra pantry space for dry goods, cold storage for perishables and space for the doomsday stash of batteries and bottled water might just become part of the new household plan.

  5. Secure delivery space.  If COVID-19 has further entrenched our love of one thing, it just may be online shopping.  As we slowly start venturing back into the world, however, we’ll need secure outdoor storage space to protect our deliveries from porch pirates.   A number of options already exist, from outdoor lockers to online order pick-up services – and it will be interesting to see what comes next.

  6. Recreation spaces.  They won’t replace true community socializing, but over the past number of years many new homes have included “bonus” spaces such as theatre rooms, home gyms, bars, games rooms and wine cellars.  Will we crave the safety of our own homes for these experiences as we transition to the “new normal,” or be desperate to get back out into the world?  Only time will tell.  My guess is it won’t be a case of one or the other, but both – and we may see more crossover between residential and commercial design as both strive to appeal to our needs for comfort, entertainment and safety. 

  7. Healthy home systems. Not so much a “space,” but with all the focus on our health I wonder if home systems that protect us from pollutants will gain further momentum.  Will air filters and water purification systems become truly integrated into the new “smart homes”?  These days, it doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.

  8. Detox spaces.  Thanks to the pandemic, we’re now more aware than ever before of the germs hitching a ride into our homes.  Although our wariness may subside over time, these days we’re all extra cautious about putting packages in “quarantine” and fully sanitizing produce, jars and cans. For those working on the frontlines, changing clothes before entering and exiting the house is a necessary precaution to keep their families safe. 

    Going forward, will we consider spaces and systems to “detox” ourselves and our belongings as we travel to and from the house?  This could take the form of a drop box in the garage, a designated spot for “outdoor” shoes, or a laundry room close to the back door.

So, what do you think?  The truth is, it’s nearly impossible to predict how much our current reality will shape our lives going forward.  However, one thing is for certain:  our desire to have our home as our sanctuary won’t ever change.   If anything, COVID-19 has only amplified our need for security, coziness and familiarity during these challenging times.  From a décor standpoint, this is likely to translate into more traditional design, warmer colours, natural materials, cozy textiles, a focus on quality and a greater awareness of the things that bring us joy and good health.

If you have any predictions as well, I’d love to hear them!  Please comment below.

Stay safe, all.

Xo L.

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