How COVID is Impacting and Changing the Future of Interior Design and Architecture Trends in the Age of Social Distancing

Over the course of 2020, the impact of the Corona virus has drastically impacted the lives of millions around the globe. We have changed how we work and socialize, relying on digital technologies and ever-evolving social distancing practices. We have all also collectively spent significantly more time at home, learning more about the spaces in which we dwell and how they function (or don’t function). Our homes have proven to be our most important asset not only for our financial portfolios but also for our peace of mind, stability, and comfort. At Amity Kett, we are examining how COVID is impacting and changing the future of interior design and architecture in the age of social distancing. 

Historical events have played a role in how we live and carry into home design. Our modern concept of the bathroom was previously separated into different areas of the home. In the early 1800s, families might have washbasins set up in bedrooms for quick use, and they typically would bathe in a shared area like the kitchen where it was easy to heat water. Lavatory buildings were often separate from the main home and could have been shared by multiple families. This all began to change in the mid-1800s when the connection between waste disposal and health was made, and municipalities began investing in plumbing systems. By the late 1800s, modern plumbing along with inventions like the flush toilet started to bring all the elements of the bathroom inside with a higher standard of hygiene and ease along with them.

Using Easy to Clean and Antimicrobial Materials

As we see a focus on sanitation again, easy to clean and antimicrobial materials will gain popularity in design plans. COVID will influence us to design with materials such as:
1. Quartzite and Soapstone – both are naturally antimicrobial and nonporous, making them sanitary and easy to clean.
2. Antimicrobial Metal Hardware – copper, brass, and bronze have natural properties that destroy microorganisms, making them a great option for drawer pulls and doorknobs.
3. Wood and Porcelain Tile Flooring – woods like oak and bamboo also prevent the growth of microorganisms and are easy to clean, and porcelain is the least porous tile available making it a sanitary choice.
4. Touchless Faucets – previously thought of as a luxury, touchless kitchen and even bathroom faucets may quickly become the norm for home use.
5. Easy to Clean Textiles – thick, plush textiles may soon be a luxury item of the past as we move to leathers and easy to wash fabrics.
6. Advanced HVAC Sytems – these will be designed for healthy ventilation.
7. Windows – there will be more windows used and placed strategically to allow for healthier airflow and cross ventilation.
8. Walls – spaces will see the addition of walls for times when the household needs to be separated.

Creating Separation and the End of Open Concept

Over the past decade, “open concept” has become a TV home renovation buzzword and homeowners have been eager to tear down every wall in sight. COVID is changing this interior design concept, and it may go away completely. As we spend more time at home together all at once, we are realizing that there is value in interior walls to create private spaces and mitigate noise. There is a need for creating separate rooms with specific tasks, like an office, game room, or media room. As we become closer to family, the addition of casitas or guest houses will rise to offer more privacy for guests and provide practical applications to create a comfortable place for family members who need care or assistance. 

Additions of Resort-Style Amenities

When it comes to home additions, we are seeing a desire to add resort-style amenities at home and the increased importance of landscapes. We now realize that home is more than a place to lay your hat and should serve as a multiuse space for work, play, and relaxation. Homeowners are creating state-of-the-art home offices, converting garages into home gyms, and expanding outdoor living areas with kitchens, patios, gardens, and pools. In many cases, additions like this will not only save money on membership fees and increase value but will foster a space for families to appreciate the simple things together.

Multipurpose Furniture and Flex Spaces

In places where space is at a premium, we will see a rise in flex spaces and utilization of multipurpose furniture. When creating a flex space, it is important to remember to add elements like windows and closets to gain a bedroom classification and increase property value and allow easy changes for future uses. Furniture items like daybeds, pull-out sofas, Murphy beds, and hidden storage solutions can allow a home office to seamlessly blend into a guest room when you need it. 

The Rise of the Home Office

Interior design during the age of social distancing has embraced the home office. We are moving away from makeshift home offices that primarily serve as storage or decoration to fill a room and are moving into the concept of “the office at home.” Key factors of design obviously include a proper desk, chair, and storage, but we are moving beyond the basics. 

We are seeing an increased desire for more unique, decorative, and hidden storage options to allow for the workday to truly be put away and separated from home when it is time to clock out. There is also an increased need for noise reduction, which could be accomplished through acoustic dividers, fabric panels, rugs, curtains, and even home speaker systems to play white noise (and music when the time calls for it). For true privacy when working, homeowners are also considering creating additions, sometimes detached, to create a close but separate workspace. 

The new home office is also unique because it is constantly being seen in the digital world as well. With video conferences, your office can no longer solely be practical but also has to make a statement about who you are as a professional. 

Designing for Physical and Emotional Health

One of the biggest changes in interior design after COVID’s impact will be the new emphasis on designing for joy, as well as physical and emotional health. Home has come to mean more than just a residence and is an even stronger symbol of comfort and stability. Comforting and calm colors that are rooted in nature will rise in popularity. There will be a return to more organic materials used and a conscious effort to bring the outdoors in. 

An emphasis on light, similarly to the response of sanitoriums of the 1920s during the tuberculosis breakouts, will also become a focus. We will see larger windows, balconies, and doors to the outside, as well as lighter window treatments, to let the sunshine in. Views will be emphasized through design choices that will draw the eye out.

The COVID pandemic has drastically changed how we live and its impact will be seen in many facets of our lives including interior design. As we see new interior design trends in the age of social distancing, we will continue to design for comfort and our new needs.

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