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In the News

November 23, 2020

Rethinking ‘Home’

COVID-19 is causing changes in home designs and product choices

Did you know that the half-bath became popular in the years following the 1918-1920 Spanish Flu pandemic? That's because homeowners wanted to keep visitors' germs out of the main bath. Did you also realize that Modern interior design first took hold in America during the Great Depression? Although embraced by the wealthy, its emphasis on practicality and simplicity seemed appropriate for a time of general economic hardship.

That brings us to today. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major societal shocks, and societal shocks always change what people want in their homes. So what new things are homeowners asking for? 

This has been a hot topic among builders, remodelers, architects and realtors. While the specifics requests they're hearing may differ, there are some common threads. If you're planning a new home, understanding these can inform your design and product choices.

The top priority is health. Hot-selling home-health products and systems include things like VOC-free paints, touchless faucets, and humidity control and air filtration. Health concerns are also impacting floor plans. For instance mudrooms with washer/dryer nooks have become more popular. They let people shed dirty clothes before entering the home and are especially popular with healthcare workers. More homeowners are also opting for an en-suite bath in every bedroom, which makes it easy to isolate sick family members while also giving everyone a bit more privacy.

At least one trend seems to have been fueled by the empty store shelves earlier this year, and people's fear of a repeat. Researchers who track housing trends say that homeowners asking for larger pantries in particular and more built-in storage in general. The ability to pack away lots of food and other items is security against future shortages. 

Other changes are the result of people having to do more things at home. Home offices and study nooks were popular 10 years ago but fell out of favor when Wi-Fi became ubiquitous. But demand for these spaces is back, thanks to more people working and schooling at home and needing a quiet space to do so. 

Entertainment is also high on homeowners' wish lists. A lot of people don't want to go to movie theaters or other places where they have to interact with strangers. That has raised demand for home theaters, as well as for spaces where family members can pursue hobbies.

Outdoor living is another big winner. Outdoor rooms have been popular for years but demand has really taken off in the past few months. It seems that when people feel trapped inside they start pining for an outdoor lounge area, kitchen or garden. And because they foresee spending lots of time in that outdoor room they want thoughtful designs and quality materials.

The bottom line is that COVID-19 has caused people to rethink their relationship with their home. In recent years, busy schedules had made the home little more than a pit stop for many families, a place to refuel before rushing off to the next activity. Now, more people are seeing it as a place where they can spend a lot of time together. Even without a pandemic, a home that enables that is a great asset.

Q: How does homeowner decision-making affect the project timeline?

A: A successful building project requires timely decisions. Whether it's approving a design or selecting finishes, every decision has a due date. Meeting those due dates will ensure that the project gets done on time. Not meeting them will lead to delays and cost increases.

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