Future Home Design: 5 Ways the COVID-19 Pandemic is Reshaping Our Spaces

Brian Hogan
Apr 10, 2021 10:54:42 AM

Your home has always been your nest: your place of safety, privacy, and respite when you’re ready to unwind, relax and recharge. If you’re like many people, a year of pandemic living has made you hyperaware of everything you love about your space — and everything you’d like to change. 

The Covid lifestyle. Father working at home with kids studying and interrupting.

The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t just increased the amount of time we spend in our homes; it has transformed the way we use them. Instead of just being the place we return to at the end of the day, our homes have become busy hubs of remote work and learning, continuous meal prep, daily workouts, and the occasional “safe” outdoor gathering.    

These changes may ultimately be temporary, but they’re having a lasting impact on the way we view our spaces. Let’s explore how living through a pandemic is changing what we want — and what we need — from our homes.  

Home Design Evolution

A quick look through decades of interior design images reveals a lot about how our homes have changed through time. New trends and evolving tastes aren’t the only reasons people decide to renovate, upgrade, or improve their spaces; societal shakeups and modified norms are also significant catalysts for change. 

Past infectious disease outbreaks have influenced many aspects of modern home layout and design. In fact, lessons learned in past pandemics (influenza and tuberculosis) are what led to modern bathroom design.  

In 1854, a deadly cholera outbreak in London persuaded homeowners around the world to replace the thick carpets and heavy draperies in their bathrooms with smooth ceramic tile and lightweight curtains that are much easier to keep clean. 

Later, the 1918 global flu pandemic spurred people to install small bathrooms on the main level of their homes — the world’s earliest powder rooms — so guests could use the restroom and wash up without having to walk through the entire house. 

COVID-19 and Home Design

Just as past pandemics made people consider how their homes helped or hindered them in uncertain times, the coronavirus pandemic is forcing us to do the same. Here are five ways COVID-19 is reshaping home design for the upcoming post-pandemic era: 

1. More privacy, please

At the start of the pandemic, remote work seemed like a lucky convenience for those whose jobs could be done from home. Today, as the pandemic drags on and companies realize the benefits of having a remote workforce, this temporary situation seems to be turning into a permanent solution — at least for some.

Where open floor plans once reigned supreme, many people now covet a well-placed door. More and more homeowners are looking to create a dedicated office space with a door, or, at the very least, they’d like to be able to transform an open-floor space into multiple dedicated areas with sliding doors, screens, or modular walls. 

Roof top deck with sectional and fire tables featuring an umbrella and outdoor kitchenette

2. Better outdoor living spaces

With distanced outdoor gatherings becoming the norm of safe socialization early on, many people find themselves wishing for better outdoor living spaces: welcoming and comfortable spaces where they can visit with friends and family or simply take a break from interior walls and “remote” living. 

Instead of having to make do with parks and other public outdoor spaces, homeowners are focusing on improving their own outdoor spaces. Top priorities include adding a deck or patio, building a pergola, patio cover, or gazebo, and revamping existing gardens and landscaping.  

In cold-weather climates, people are also interested in firepits, outdoor kitchens, and heating elements that help them spend more time outside in the fall, winter, and early spring. 

People are also interested in improving the transition between interior and exterior spaces — expansive, folding glass doors that open onto a furnished patio and garden can make you feel more connected to the natural world, as can bright, light-filled rooms with big windows.

3. Adaptable, multi-use spaces

Many rooms already serve multiple purposes — for example, plenty of people use their dining room as a monthly bill-paying center, holiday gift-wrapping station, or temporary storage zone when they’re not using it as a place to gather, eat, and catch up. 

The seismic shift caused by COVID-19 has homeowners yearning for adaptable spaces that serve multiple dedicated purposes. For some, this means renovating the main bathroom to include a sauna or steam room along with an open area for stretching. For others, it means streamlining basement storage to accommodate a new home gym.   

Creative built-in storage solutions, special nooks and alcoves, and modular, multi-functional furnishings are helping people create the kind of spaces that transition easily from one activity to the next. 

4. Purer, healthier indoor air 

Since the discovery that COVID-19 is mainly spread through the air on microscopic aerosols, indoor air quality has been a top concern for many people. As a result, the demand for robust air ventilation, filtration, and purification systems has skyrocketed. 

It’s highly likely that an increasing number of homeowners will install air purification systems as time goes on. Working in conjunction with your regular HVAC system, an air purification system takes in outside air, reconditions it, and supplies it as fresh, filtered air into your home. 

5. First-floor guest suites

A robust air filtration system is all the more effective if you’re able to smoothly transition from a collective living environment to a cluster of isolated zones when necessary. As many people have learned in the past year, quarantining away from others can be difficult in small houses as well as larger homes that feature shared spaces. 

Families that were already considering adding a first-floor guest suite for live-in grandparents or occasional visitors have another reason to renovate: a self-contained bedroom/bathroom suite that’s away from the main living area makes it much easier to quarantine.   

Once the current pandemic is over, having a comfortable guest suite at your disposal makes it that much easier to host much-missed friends and relatives for a few days. Or, it may give you a golden opportunity to share your home with an aging parent or other family member. 

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