After spending so much time in our homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many homeowners are considering reinvesting in their homes with renovations that will create ideal spaces for how they live and work from home. If you could renovate your home, which key features would you tackle first?
In this post, we explore some of the latest features being addressed in home remodels with extra attention to hygiene, storage, dual-use spaces, extending the use of outdoor living areas and added comfort. While a hopeful immunization for COVID-19 is likely on the horizon, it’s predicted that our socializing and living conveniences will not return to those of years past. Instead, many of the safety precautions introduced in 2020 will remain with great influence on the amount of time spent at home and how we live there.
HYGIENE AND HEALTH FEATURES
The pandemic has certainly brought cleanliness and health to the forefront of our minds. Incorporating tools that help address these needs is, thus, growing in popularity. For starters, we’re seeing greater interest in appliances with sanitization settings such as washing machines, dryers and dish washers. Although those have been available for some time, the extra layer of protection combined with the convenience of having clothes and utensils hygienically cleaned without adding to your task list is even more enticing post-pandemic. While you’re upgrading your appliances, also consider those with greater capacity since more laundry and dish washing comes with more time at home with cleanliness top of mind.
Real stone such as marble and granite are relatively impervious to bacteria commonly found on kitchens and bathrooms but they’re not 100 percent resistant. We recommend having these stone countertops sealed at installation and resealed at least annually to keep added protection on your counter tops. Alternatively, the “advantage of quartz is that it is a non-porous material, its texture does not allow bacteria to grow and resists against stains, protecting your family and making kitchen (and bath) clean-up easy. For this reason, quartz countertops never need to be sealed,” according to Silestone, the leader in quartz surfaces. Quartz is a great option for homeowners looking to renovate their kitchens and introduce safe, easier to clean materials. Check out this short video of Pamela on Instagram on this topic as well as our “Kitchen Counters that are Easy to Clean” blog post.
Although we’re spending more time at home, most of us are venturing out for some duties. So, how can you prevent viruses from coming into your home? Mudrooms immediately off the primary entrance (often the back door) are also a home improvement driven by the pandemic. Like businesses adding hand sanitizers near their entrances, mudrooms present logical spaces to include a sink, anti-bacterial hand soap and plenty of paper towels for hand washing as soon as you enter the home. Whether you have children going and returning from school daily or on a modified schedule, adults running errands or homeowners commuting to and from work, washing your hands before walking through the house prevents bacteria and viruses from spreading throughout your home.
A mudroom is also a great place to store shoes, coats, and school or work bags. It’s quite convenient to store these items near the back door so you can easily grab them on your way out of the house. Since some homes are now abodes for multiple generations, smart storage is another benefit of mudrooms with drawers, cabinets and even locker-like doors to safely hide belongings when you’re at home.
The tendency for more messes to occur when you’re spending more time at home is inevitable. That is unless you plan for storage that addresses your family’s needs. If you’re thinking about remodeling your home, take advantage of this opportunity to add places that store your belongings out of sight like in the mudroom mentioned above. Other storage spaces that are often overlooked are under the kitchen counter, in the laundry room, in bench seating in the breakfast area and even within side tables.
Kitchen remodels are adopting larger footprints with more spacious pantries in part at least to minimize multiple trips to the grocery store each week. A nicely stocked and organized pantry is such a great timesaver. This is especially important since people are eating out less and sharing mealtime at home together.
That brings us to our next point: Oversized, multipurpose kitchen counters and islands continue to trend as well. Not only do you need counters that are healthy and clean, but families also often have numerous activities occurring in the kitchen at once. Consider a traditional family of four that likely has children doing schoolwork from the counter all or part of the day. Plus, adults are now working from home more than ever so they’re also fixing more meals from home. (Who else misses the work lunches and dinner outings?) Cooking dinner as you wrap up a day’s work? Plan an oversized kitchen island in your renovation. Besides preparing the area for the larger counter, homes with small kitchens may need to remove walls to enlarge the room. Consult Pamela Hope Designs for tips on maximizing your space in the kitchen or when considering a kitchen renovation.
For rooms that will remain small, creative solutions can make rooms feel more spacious and provide more storage as well. For example, fold-down desks, Murphy beds and under-stairs offices are clever ways to maximize space. At right, we designed a home office under the staircase that serves this busy family quite well and looks sharp, too. Best of all, our client loves it!
This type of technology initially was developed to focus on energy efficiency but has grown in popularity as it offers consumers ways to integrate sensors and automate processes. For instance, the home monitoring systems can now measure air quality and automatically adjust to reduce pollutants in your home. Plus, the automation allows owners to set the timers once and reap cost savings from appliances that automatically turn off. Here are a few smart technology home decor features worth considering.
With the ease of incorporating voice-activated purchasing and shipping thanks to Amazon Alexa devices, smart home technology is being interwoven into our daily lives. Smart apps like the one below from Monogram keep you connected to your refrigerator. Homeowners will receive notifications and alerts and wirelessly control functions from your phone.
Voice-activated thermostats and light switches allow people to make needed adjustments without touching more surfaces. Imagine entering your bedroom, turning on the lights with voice activation so you can see properly in the evening and then switching off the lights with only your voice once you’re cozy in bed. People are appreciating these niceties as added investments in their home and in their health. We expect more focus will be on incorporating this feature into monitoring air and water quality in the home.
Window treatments can also raise and lower based on a scheduled timer or voice activation. The real convenience comes in having shades that adjust with the daylight without you lifting a finger. You may not be coming and going from the house as much as you previously did, but clients like the fact that shades can be automatically adjusted at the exact same level across a group of windows, eliminating fuss over getting them all just right.
Rooms that can be used for multiple purposes are getting a lot more attention since the pandemic hit. Dining rooms seemed like wasted space just a year ago, but now they’re doubling as home offices and extended classrooms.
Many open floor plans are being reconsidered to truly get more use out of the space. We like this floor plan from One Kings Lane that suggests you “turn the dining table into ‘an everyday comfort space. It’s really nice because the majority of the time you’re not using it for eating. Choose a pretty table that can be used as a desk or as a serving place for appetizers.” You can also see how this table could be a great workspace for working or studying at home and the adjacent bookcase could provide storage for office and school supplies if needed.
In our “Unique Hobbies Call for Unique Spaces” blog post, we share a client’s multifunctional room that combines a space to complete her office work, an area to do her laundry and a place to bring out a sewing machine every once in a while when needed.
THE LUXURY OF COMFORT
According to the September 7 issue of Furniture Today, “The COVID-19 pandemic has made consumers’ home furnishings even more important to them than they used to be.” The related Furniture Today survey cited 47 percent of Millennials, 43 percent of Generation X and 35 percent of Baby Boomers replied that the pandemic has them valuing home furniture as more important. Of course, this makes sense as people spend more time in their home and seek the pleasures of comfort.
The Washington Post helps makes sense of this statistic in a recent article as well. “’In uncertain times, there’s some comfort people can find in the physicality or realness of items they buy, because everything else can feel uncertain and undetermined,’ said Elias Aboujaoude, clinical professor of psychiatry and director of the Impulse Control Disorders Clinic at Stanford University’s medical school in California. ‘A physical thing can become a tool to help anchor us.’”
When it comes to a home remodel, new furniture is a good part of the mix. Furniture such as chairs that can be used for work, relaxing and dining are good investments. A quality sofa be an investment for your home because its frame is likely to last a long time. If you tire of the fabric down the road, simply have it reupholstered. Another trend is purchasing kitchen furniture (and cooking supplies for that matter) where you can enjoy all those meals made at home. Of particular interest, the Furniture Today survey indicated that sustainably made products rank high in interest across generational age groups. So, look for bar stools, kitchen tables and chairs, as well as kitchen cupboards made from eco-friendly materials.
EXTENDING LIVING SPACES OUTDOORS
Research has shown that socializing outdoors is proving healthier than indoors so consider home renovations that extend your space outdoors. We’re seeing more interest in large-scale windows and doors from vendors like La Cantina Doors. When the weather is pleasant these folding, sliding and swinging solutions allow you to seemingly gain more square footage by combining indoor and outdoor living spaces.
As with indoor furniture, outdoor furniture is a good investment. This is often an area of home design that people skimp on. Instead, purchase outdoor furniture that is built to withstand the weather elements in your area and last years. For more ideas, read our “Back Yard Updates that Extend Your Living Areas.”
Cooler months are ahead yet there are still plenty of ways to cherish your home with home improvements that are tailored to your budget and lifestyle. Which aspects of your home are you wanting to remodel? Pamela Hope Designs is ready to help with a comprehensive list of full-service interior design services. Until next time, find your inspiration or call us and we’ll help you discover it!