The Pandemic and Home Design

There is no need to describe the chaos and suffering caused by the global coronavirus pandemic. We have all been living it for the last year and a half. It has redefined how we go about practically every activity in our lives and as we wait for things to get back to 'normal,' most of us realise that certain aspects of our daily existence have been altered for good. The silver lining is that many of the newly acquired habits are positive — we focus more on hygiene, we appreciate the importance of nature to our mental well-being, we are more attuned with our bodies and their needs, and we are learning the true value of work-life balance.

With the rise, and hopefully the fall, of COVID-19, we take a look at how home design has evolved to better suit our needs in a time of crisis. After all, if all you have are the four walls around you for months on end, major changes need to be made to keep us all from going stir-crazy.

Healthy Home Design

Cleanliness has never been closer to godliness. This is echoed in recent trends of home redesign that begin as early as the entranceway to your abode. With the requirement of a spot to put down groceries and other items to be disinfected, special attention is being given to the foyers of houses and flats alike. Investing in an out-of-the-way countertop for your antechamber has never been a better idea; plus consider a shoe rack to boot. Asking your guests to remove their shoes before they come in is no longer an awkward song and dance, but is a polite implication when they notice your footwear set out neatly on a rack by the entrance.

Low/no-touch smart appliances and sanitaryware are gaining popularity in the UK. It’s an obvious choice now that we’re all a lot more careful about what our hands do and do not touch. Self-cleaning machinery also appears to be on the rise, with antimicrobial fixtures such as copper, brass, and stainless steel having a moment in the spotlight.

Additionally, trends are growing to favour natural, hypoallergenic materials in building and furnishing homes. Suddenly, you’re going outside less and are spending all your time indoors. You might notice certain materials aggravating allergies that you never considered before. The goal is to keep your house clean and dry, so air-purifiers and dehumidifiers do some serious heavy lifting. Eliminating dust can be just as easy by swapping long-pile rugs for low-pile mats, making sure to check for a low VOC (volatile organic compound) rating. For your upholstery, choose a hypoallergenic material such as leather or vinyl. Where you simply must-have fabric, organic wool collects minimal dust and can easily be cleaned up with a quick hoover.

Nurturing with Nature

Oh, how we longed to be back outside! A quick stroll around the block was a luxury many couldn’t afford, so we turned our attention towards bringing the outdoors inside. Many tried their hand at indoor gardening, filling spaces with lush greenery, and others raised armies of tiny potted succulents that could withstand the end of time itself. Still, whether it was the self-satisfaction that came with raising and caring for a plant, or still being able to see verdant leaves whilst stuck indoors, plants dominated many Britons’ living spaces and continue to do so. Even with our signature weather, many found their green thumbs, which is a plus.

Many spaces around the home are being given multiple purposes while in lockdown. COVID-19 brings with it a new wave of earthy wall paints like greys and beiges that evoke the natural world, but remain neutral enough so you can slip easily between work and play, whichever you fancy when the time comes to shut off for the day.

For city-dwellers especially, biophilic elements including rustic furniture items and large windows that let in lots of natural light have grown from just desirable into a current-day necessity. Woody textures that are reminiscent of the outdoors are also in popular demand.

Mental health matters

Coronavirus has left many of us disoriented and mentally in a slump. It’s not easy to be productive when the world outside your door seems to be going up in flames. Prioritising feeling safe and cosy at home has become a common sentiment. This means opting for materials that put comfort first, and visual appeal second.

When everything else is a mess, organising your home is a sure-fire way to gain a sense of accomplishment. Creative storage solutions are seeing a rise as many put their time in isolation into more productive endeavours. Consider Ottoman-style seating for easy packing away of pillows or children’s toys, and cabinets and shelving for the odds and ends that somehow always end up on the floor.

Remote working and the home office

Whether you’re at your desk at an office meeting, or your children are hard at work (or hardly working) on a class Zoom call, the ability to focus and be productive at home has never been more important. Dedicated home offices are now the norm where they used to be a luxury, and are seeing specialised furniture that will last. The trend of remote learning and remote work may have started with COVID-19, but doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon. Invest in a sturdy desk, a comfortable chair, and shelves to store all manners of paraphernalia!

However, keeping a work-life balance becomes more difficult than ever. Homeowners without dedicated studies are looking at creative partition solutions such as screen dividers or curtains that split larger rooms into productive and relaxation zones respectively. Keep workspaces free of clutter and reap the benefits in the evening while you sip a nice glass of wine...five metres from your work desk. Make sure that each person in the home has a separated workspace, however, because it may become frustrating to have to share space when focus is key.

Everyone in the home will have their own meeting or call to get on with; that’s the only way we’re getting anything done, after all. It bodes well to invest in soundproofing your rooms as well because there’s nothing more distracting for you and your workmates than the noise that creeps into your home office from the little children playing in the living room. Sound-rated acoustic doors solve a large part of this problem. Style need not be compromised on, as soft foam insulation can be mounted on the walls and comes in a range of styles that match your home’s aesthetic.

The heart of a home

The living room — perhaps once an island of tranquillity — has possibly become one of the busiest parts of your home. It’s easy to get swept up and suffocated in the action, so more homes are seeing open spaces deliberately included to break up the clutter of people and furniture alike. Plus, it’s reminiscent of the outdoors and brightens up where you’ll be spending a lot of your time whenever you’re not 'at work.'

Kitchens may also see a lot more footfall as people scurry in and out for snacks at all hours of the day. Make it an emphatic place with more islands and integrated seating, so everyone can sit down and have a chat over their meal before rushing back to their bedrooms to get back to school or work.

If you are lucky enough to have an outdoor space, this may become your new hub —when the weather is good. Consider investing in a hammock, trampoline — or even a swimming pool, if space and budget allow — to maximise your time out in the sun (don't forget your SPF 30 though). Furthermore, comfortable outdoor seating is a must, and getting your lawn landscaped is the cherry on top of your at-home idyll.

COVID-19 may have confined many Brits to their homes during the lockdowns, but inadvertently it has probably changed how we think about home interior design for the next decade. Hygiene will never be the same, and a newfound love of natural elements in the home is a common sentiment. Hopefully once the pandemic is under control, and life can return to some sense of 'normal', we will hold on to the lessons in reflection and redesigning that it’s taught us.

So, in the wake of a pandemic, how has your own home been redesigned? We’d love to hear from you!

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