How we use our homes - and how we feel about them - has changed dramatically for many people over recent months.
So, as the world adapts to the 'new normal', it stands to reason that the pandemic and the impact of lockdown is set to have a big influence on future trends.
With increased awareness of social distancing and the functionality of our homes being questioned like never before, Houzz UK & Ireland (houzz.co.uk/ideabooks/ireland) - the leading platform for home renovation and design - analysed search data and spoke with professionals from their community to predict how life after coronavirus may translate into the design of our future homes...
1. More multifunctional spaces
Lockdown meant far more of our daily activities took place in our homes, with many quickly adapting them to double up as an office and exercise space too.
Professionals on Houzz expect future homes will be designed with this in mind, utilising clever joinery to create rooms that are reconfigurable depending on the time of day.
“One of the most effective and flexible design solutions for making your home work harder is found with bespoke joinery,” says designer Samantha Watkins McRae.
“Smart, well-considered bespoke furniture will always improve living and aesthetics, but now more than ever this can be used to transform a room into different functions.”
Top tip: A spare bedroom can incorporate a bed that folds seamlessly away to become a desk/study when guests are not there. A children’s bedroom can have a play aspect with a fun, considered storage and sleeping solution that moves overspill from other rooms. A poorly used living or dining room can be given new life with a different configuration and flexible desk space, which can be tidied away when not in use.
2. Mudrooms and porches will have greater appeal
As awareness for how we bring germs into our homes rises, designers may rethink entryways, with mudrooms and larger porches becoming the norm. Closed off from the rest of the house, these transitionary spaces will allow us to remove and store outerwear, leaving germs at the door.
“Buffer zones have become even more important. These allow the outside to be tempered – viruses, as well as mud, coats and mess, can be contained and not walked through the house,” says Rebecca Jones from PWJ Architects, who suggests putting a sink in this space. "Not just for muddy football boots, but for essential hand-washing before you get into the house.”
To incorporate a mudroom into your home, Jones says: “Consider converting a garage for this, or you could add a porch. The beauty of this approach is that in most cases this can be done without extensive remodelling or even the requirement for planning permission (although this does not apply to listed buildings).
"Porches can be put on, or spaces converted without planning permission provided certain criteria are met - position, distances to boundaries, height restrictions and materials. This can be explored in more detail with a design professional or online on the Planning Portal website.”
3. Smart technology will continue to grow
Technology has been a growing priority for homeowners over recent years, with 13% of renovators now incorporating smart technology, according to Houzz. As tech continues to become more and more innovative, and more household items have the ability to be controlled remotely, we may begin to see voice recognition technology more commonly used in the home, reducing the need to touch switches, household appliances and remote controls - all common germ hotspots.
No-touch technology is likely to become more popular in the bathroom too, with professionals on Houzz reporting sensor-controlled taps and lights rising in popularity.
Matt Paine from smart home specialists Wave Controls, says: "There are lots of entry-level smart home products which can control lighting, heating and audio, available on the market.
"Look for those that are Alexa or Google Assistant enabled. These products are fairly easy to set up and can often be done by the homeowner. For a larger system, Control 4 will allow you to control almost any element of your home, speak to a smart home specialist who could advise you on the possibilities.”
4. Antimicrobial materials will feature more
As we become more aware of how germs live on the objects we regularly touch, a trend towards more materials with natural antimicrobial properties it also predicted. In the kitchen and bathroom, breeding grounds for germs, professionals on Houzz expect that we could begin to see copper, brass or bronze fixtures replacing stainless steel counterparts.
Floors are another area prone to harbouring germs and as a result, materials such as cork may become more prevalent, utilising its handy antimicrobial, sound-insulating and water-resistant properties too.
5. Connecting to the outdoors will be in high demand
Access and connection to outdoor space has become far more valuable. As a result, the Houzz pros expect homeowners to place greater importance on having outdoor space of their own, increasing the demand for homes with balconies and gardens.
Connecting kitchens to the outdoors has been a popular trend on Houzz for the last few years, with 52% of kitchen renovators opting for designs that open up to their garden or patio area. Richard Hobden from RHJB Architects expects to see this continue: “The intrinsic links we seek to create between home and garden have become invaluable. Although somewhat cliched, the merging of internal and external environments provides the impression of greater space and significantly reduces the feeling of confinement.”
Hobden says improving the connection between your kitchen and garden can be achieved in several ways, suiting both how you live and your budget.
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