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Pandemic motivates change in design habits

For over a year, coronavirus has forced many people to develop new behavior patterns in all facets of their lives. Months of quarantining gave people a chance to really look at their lives and homes.

Dawn Brinson, vice president of strategic marketing for The Media Matters, has researched how homeowners are adjusting to new design and shopping habits due to COVID-19.

Brinson led a webinar specific to this topic at Las Vegas Market at World Market Center in April. The Las Vegas Market is the leading home furnishings and gift market in the Western U.S.

“We’re finding that these new behaviors and ways of doing things are still unfolding and developing,” she said. “What we need to do is blend these new behaviors into our everyday life.

“According to the data that I’ve studied from anthropologists, psychologists, sociologists and data analysts, we haven’t seen this kind of shift in years. It’s a generational thing. We have to learn as we go along and recalibrate our lives in so many ways.”

According to Brinson, homeowners are eager to be more exuberant as the pandemic ends, and they want to spend money on their homes. Homes will still be a type of cocoon but with more open and social spacing.

“Homeowners are falling in love with their homes all over again and making decisions to make them even more personal and comfortable,” she said. “They are embracing what a home is all about. We’re finding that homeowners are staying in their homes longer and that is fueling a boom in remodeling and redesign.

“The home, now more than ever, needs to be secure and be a haven where family and friends can congregate. This has opened a new world for interior designers and landscape designers.”

One area that has become a focal point is the backyard. Outdoor living has become an integral part for upgrades as homeowners look to accommodate a lifestyle that connects them more to nature.

This includes building or upgrading decks, porches, pools, patios and outdoor kitchens. The outdoor kitchen is popular as it removes the need to go back and forth between the grill and the house, and outdoor dining is refreshing and fun.

Other areas of the home getting extra attention are the kitchen, bedrooms and home fitness center.

“The kitchen is so important because families gather there, and it’s also a bit of an entertainment center,” Brinson said.

“Home fitness centers are now popular, and it’s not just in the garage where the treadmill has always sat,” she continued. “Because of the coronavirus, fitness has become an integral part of one’s daily routine and homeowners are dedicating a room or some part of the home to this fitness space.”

Brinson said the fitness room also can be a quiet space, but that quiet space is more often found in the master bedroom.

“There has been a lot of noise over the past year, and the home is uniquely suited to manage that noise,” she said. “The quiet space can be used for reading or meditation or listening to your favorite music. People need to ratchet down from all the daily noise and sometimes you just want to sit in a place that is completely quiet.

“The dedicated quiet space can also become a home entertainment area for art and audiovisual or family games. All of this becomes a personal choice or expression to design the room that fits the needs and wants of the family. It’s an expansion of attitudes and a change to the way we have lived over the past year.”

The past year has also influenced what people want to see in overall home design. They want to renovate with amenities that will make the home more bearable starting with additional bathrooms. Hand-washing is a constant nowadays, and even a powder room or just a sink near a home’s entrance may become fairly standard.

Bigger and more spacious pantries or shelving to store nonperishables are trending in new home design. The storage space can be in the kitchen or garage. And there is even a trend to old-fashioned chest freezers that used to sit in the garage but are now popular because they expand a family’s food inventory and reduces trips to the grocery store.

Finally, there is the home office which has seen the most attention. A return to the workplace is still an unknown, and the home office needs to be comfortable and functional. That means better lighting and more storage.