I chose this topic a few weeks ago when I presented a seminar for the Houston Chronicle’s Access/Design event at the Houston Design Center. I then edited it down to a much shorter television segment for KPRC Channel 2’s “Houston Life“.
I’m always thinking about interior design. Of course it’s a big part of my work day. I also keep it top of mind in my daily life, while at home, over the weekend, with family and when I travel or visit new places. The topic of interior design has never been more prevalent as we are coming off a year of spending an unusually large amount of time at home. COVID and the shutdowns have caused many changes to the way that we live, work and play. As we see light at the end of the tunnel and some control of the virus, I decided to focus on the POSITIVE changes from the last 12 months. I think some of the changes are practices that we will continue to focus on for many years to come. Here’s a recap of some of them.
This is not the first time this has happened. I was a complete Europhile when I was young. I studied French and Italian. I really wanted to be a French girl. I devoured novels and books about Medieval and Renaissance Europe. Now, please don’t judge me too harshly but …thinking back, one of my favorite morbid subjects was The Plague! People wore weird, bird-like masks as protection and left the cities. Did you notice that The Decameron was all the rage last spring? Do you know the story? During a plague outbreak in Florence in 1348, 10 young Florentines escaped to the countryside. They amused each other by telling a story every day for 10 days. Is any of this sounding familiar?
Now, let’s fast forward a bit. London was hit with large Cholera outbreaks in the 1800s. As you may know, for years people believed many sicknesses were caused by foul air. However, in the mid-1800s dirty water was identified as the culprit. At the time, drinking water in London was taken from the Thames River. Guess where the sewage went? The Thames River! Sanitation became more important. Public buildings and hospitals started to install easy-to-clean surfaces. This encouraged the use of none other than subway tiles. They were white so workers could easily see when they got dirty and could clean them.
I read an Architectural Digest article that said powder rooms were an early 20th century invention. Those were the days of daily coal and ice deliveries and also frequently spreading illnesses. The idea of the delivery men coming and going to many houses every day and needing to use a restroom made people nervous. They didn’t want them going upstairs or using the family facilities. Thus, a small room with a toilet and a sink was added to the ground floor to handle the needs of frequent visitors.
In this next photograph, there are many easy-to-clean surfaces in this on-trend bathroom. While the need for bathrooms that are designed to prevent the spread of viruses has been around for centuries, the focus on cleanliness and health has certainly been drawn to center stage again.
Next, here’s a large primary bathroom that just glows. Dirt can’t hide here!Décor by Pamela Hope Designs
Below is another modern example of tile used (this time in a kitchen) in a manner that emphasizes a clean look. We finished this kitchen around Christmas 2019 and attended a chef’s dinner to celebrate just as COVID-19 was becoming a news topic. This is home to a busy family with a professional mom who cooks from scratch most days. The family wanted a large, spacious kitchen with robust appliances, lots of counter space and (again) easy-to-clean surfaces.
The backsplash shown above is an updated version of subway tile, although a little longer and more narrow with a slightly irregular surface. Yet, it remains very easy to clean. We installed it in a double herringbone pattern to add a little pizzazz.
Better and more organized storage is another big trend that I think will stick around. Think back a year ago. After going to the grocery store and stocking up on anything we could find, we needed somewhere to keep it. Pantry envy became a thing! An added bonus in a larger pantry is that with enough space, lighting and power, you can perform many tasks in your pantry. With long days and often busy nights for the family mentioned above, the owners of this pretty pantry cook fresh food from scratch for nearly every meal because of food allergies. The busy mom definitely needed space for storage of food, staples, cookware and small appliances. This pantry hits the mark and looks great too.
I’ve also embraced this broader use of a pantry myself. I do my baking in there, blend my KETO coffee, etc. I keep the ingredients for baking in my pantry and my stand mixer so I just gather the wet ingredients and go. It not only creates a more convenient set-up, but it also simplifies clean up.
Remember last year when shelves were bare of toilet paper and cleaning products? Sometimes, when we can fit in an additional closet, such as under the stairs or near the garage or mudroom, we call it the “Costco” closet! Honestly, I think we all need to keep about two weeks of staples these days. After all, it was just a few weeks ago that Houston had no drinkable water!
Speaking of storage, the butler’s pantry (below left) is in front of the actual pantry and adjacent to the kitchen. It serves as a beverage station for everyday drinks such as morning juice and afternoon tea. It can also be a second prep area because the kitchen only has one sink. And, it has TONS of drawers and cabinets! Plenty of storage for those extra rolls of paper towels and Clorox wipes!
In the photograph above right, this fun little nook provides breakfast-room style seating for a young family and includes storage beneath the bench. Plus, storage doesn’t have to be stale or boring looking. We enjoyed creating this fun look with lively colors that seem to energize meal time and pull in hues from the artwork hung above the seating area.
In the photos below, the home had a massive double utility room. We were able to build out a full wall for the sink and storage rather than the standard cabinet or two…You’ll see how we really tricked out this space. The utility room was so large that the client decided she wanted to put her office in there. We were able to include a desk, desk storage and a long countertop for her hobbies and projects. And just in case you were in doubt, here’s proof that it really is a utility room! Voila, the washer and dryer!
Clean, sanitary and organized are goals for most of our homes. I hope you enjoyed this overview of pandemic-driven design that is not only here to stay but actually a good thing. These trends inspire me for my clients and my own home. I hope they inspire you too. So tell me, what kind of changes have you made to your home recently?
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