Sat. Dec 5th, 2020

There’s no place like home. 

The phrase has always been true, but especially in the last six months. What used to be a place to return to after a long day now serves multiple purposes to people all day, every day. The home is now an office, school, restaurant, gym, playroom and more. 

And with most people around the world spending significantly more time in their homes than ever before, change has inevitably occurred. 

Spending so much time at home leaves people to look at their homes and want to make changes. Research has found that 70% of Americans have completed a home improvement project during the pandemic, with more projects planned for 2021. Consequently, sales and stock prices for companies like Home Depot, Lowe’s and Sherwin Williams have seen tremendous growth in recent months. 

Home design changes and improvements have long been linked to pandemics. In fact, the design of the modern bathroom is largely due to infectious diseases. A cholera outbreak in London served as a catalyst to replace thick carpet and heavy drapes in bathrooms with tile and smooth materials that are easier to clean. It was during the 1918 flu pandemic that homeowners started installing small bathrooms on the main levels of their homes so guests could wash up without traipsing through the entire house. Powder rooms or main level guest bathrooms are a common design practice today. 

With homeowners spending more time at home and investing in home improvement projects, styles and trends are also changing. Just like how past outbreaks have changed home design, so too will the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Here are four ways home design has changed because of COVID-19. 

1 . Focus On Cleanliness And Health

One of the biggest priorities for homeowners is health and safety. Instead of choosing materials and items because they fit their personal style, many people are prioritizing materials that are antimicrobial and easy to clean. 

Materials like copper, brass and bronze, which have natural antimicrobial properties, are seeing a boost in popularity. These materials are commonly used in doorknobs or kitchen cabinet handles and kill germs and bacteria on their own without the need to constantly use chemical sprays and wipes. 

Smart homes are also adapting with touch-free technology to curb the spread of germs. Hands-free sinks and toilets, smart thermostats, automated lights and voice-controlled smart devices allow people to stay comfortable while also limiting what they touch around the house. 

2 . New Colors And Quality

COVID-19 has introduced new decorative style trends. People are opting for calm colors to create a tranquil space at home. Softer fabrics, lighter colors and more natural light have become popular to create a serene atmosphere amidst the uncertainty and chaos outside. 

At the other end of the spectrum, bold designs like dark accent walls and patterned wallpaper are also having a moment. In lieu of travelling or spending time at events, bold colors allow homeowners to celebrate new ideas and cultures from the comfort of their home. Bright colors can also be energizing and inspire creativity, which helps people who are stuck in the same routine.   

As people spend more time in their homes, they are investing in higher-quality pieces that can withstand heavy use and last for years. This is especially true of home offices, where inexpensive desks used to be fairly common. But as remote workers make plans to work from home for the foreseeable future, they are investing in quality desks, chairs and storage. 

3 . Multi-Use Spaces

Another COVID design change is rooms serving more than one purpose. The room that used to be just for dining is now also the epicenter for virtual learning. The basement that was once a storage space is now also a home gym. Homeowners are designing their rooms with multiple purposes in mind and finding furniture and décor pieces that serve multiple functions. 

Desks and workspaces are being incorporated into bedroom design, and homeowners are requesting larger kitchen islands with built-in seating to accommodate more people doing a variety of at-home activities. Rooms need to be able to easily transition, which has boosted the popularity of modular and multi-functional furniture. 

For years, open concept floor plans have been popular, but the pandemic has made homeowners shift to more traditional layouts with rooms that can be closed off to create individual areas. Instead of having virtual school, playtime and remote work happening in the same shared space, people now want to be able to close doors to give each person their own space. 

4 . Prioritized Outdoor Space

Social distancing and business closures have pushed more people outside, but public outdoor spaces are often crowded. Instead, people are prioritizing their personal outdoor space. From sprawling backyards to small city courtyards, outdoor spaces of all sizes give homeowners a place to cook, eat, play and exercise in fresh air. 

Architects are integrating outdoor living into new homes and adding more porches and balconies. In existing homes, people are looking for creative ways to maximize outdoor living with outdoor spaces that serve multiple purposes. Aside from an increase in landscaping projects, outdoor items like trampolines, hammocks and swimming pools have also seen a sales boost. 

The number of people who have started growing gardens has grown immensely since the pandemic began, with sales of vegetable seeds skyrocketing in recent months. Gardening serves as a relaxing mental health outlet for many people and also provides food instead of relying on grocery store supply chains. 

How Brands Can Adapt

These home design changes apply to more than just companies in the home décor and DIY spaces. More than ever before, consumers want to be comfortable and safe in their homes. The best customer experiences address those needs and make it easy for people to create safe, welcoming spaces. The pandemic has caused huge amounts of stress beyond people’s control, but their house is one thing they can control and that can become a refuge from uncertainty. These design trends will last long after the pandemic is over because people have realized the importance of having a space that is comfortable and functional. 

To adapt with these changes, companies need to cater their experiences to home styling, such as offering products in cleaner materials and marketing products that can serve multiple functions. By investing in home improvement projects, consumers are showing that they plan to enjoy their homes for the long haul, so companies should also extend at-home services and delivery options to allow customers to stay home as long as needed. 

COVID-19 has forced people to spend more time in their homes than ever before. These home design trends will be long-lasting, and the best future experience will consider the trends for continued peace and comfort at home.

Blake Morgan is the bestselling author of The Customer of the Future. Sign up for her new course here.

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