Pandemic reorders home design needs
As long-term or permanent work from home becomes common practice for many people, the concept of “work-life integration” is replacing “work-life balance,” according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce . How has the nearly two years of the pandemic changed what people look for in a home, interior design trends, and how people approach their unique home office space?
Perfect Paint owner and interior designer Jaci Springfield said she’s seen ‘literally everything’ so far, from people who have gleaned enough space in a bedroom for an attached home office, to parents who created “walls” from curtains hung from the ceiling. a nursery to define a partially isolated work space.
Going into people’s homes for paint consultations gave Springfield a chance to see “what people have been tinkering with, like desks stuck in a laundry room” and it was their frustration that scarred her.
“Everyone thought it would be temporary and then it became ‘I’ve been stuck in my house and I can’t take it. You have to help me do something’ as people got frustrated.
“A curtain is an act of desperation, the need for a quiet space,” Springfield said, with home office space less about square footage and more about having enough electrical outlets. , a comfortable ergonomic workstation and the ability to close the world.
Those who had the money, time, and ability made changes to their homes that they might not have prioritized without working from home.
La Mesa-based architect Kent Coston observed that there were “more thoughts of being self-sufficient at home” during the early months of the pandemic, with many people adding options like outdoor patios that would allow for entertaining at home alongside garden projects to spruce up their outdoor space.
Well over a year later, he observed, some business owners in high demand during the pandemic, such as contractors who work with ventilation systems, have seen their bank accounts increase.
“The unintended consequence of all of this is that it has unwittingly triggered some engines of the economy and some customers can finally take the plunge into building a home. For all the people who have been challenged, many are now able to do more financially,” Coston said.
Additionally, their approach is “a bit more conscientious about how they use their home, who’s there, how they use their space” with the option to work from home.
On the other hand, “if things are tight and you’re trying to get by without extra income, chances are you won’t call me to get involved,” Coston said, because at some moment, building or renovating a house becomes a luxury that not everyone can afford.
Those who cannot afford to build, buy or renovate their own home have sought specific amenities in rentals.
Susan Schwartz of Utopia Property Management said bonus rooms, previously overlooked in house rentals, are now a sought after commodity as they can be used for a home office.
“Apartment renters are a bit more ephemeral, so they think about places with space in mind. What can they do with it? Is there room for a dog? Everyone adopted a dog,” Schwartz said.
Renters have stayed put for most of the pandemic, she said, many afraid to move, some with lower credit scores after job loss and others with less disposable income.
The 2019 United States Census shows that approximately 53% of San Diego County residents rent their homes and approximately 84% have been in the same location for over a year.
“As property managers, we’ve been very accommodating, but the laws have changed and at this point a lot of landlords are selling because they’ve become frustrated with the rent situation,” Schwartz said, the unable landlords or refusing to maintain a mortgage without equal income from incoming rent to cover those monthly payments.
However, a home fresh on the market this week might look very different from the same property in 2019.
Creative Designs COO Jessica Roberts says the whole landscape of home staging, the art of preparing a home for the market, has changed.
When they offer painting consultations these days, “it’s white, bright, clean light for a positive home experience” and clients are asked to stay neutral to suggest a sense of calm during stressful times. , like life during a pandemic.
In general, she observed that there are more buyers from San Francisco on the coast who want to escape Silicon Valley prices for relatively more affordable homes in San Diego, but the trade-off is that they will telework for work.
“Every time we stage now, we’re building in a home workplace or an office. This has been our standard since the start of the pandemic,” Roberts said.
This approach extends to the whole family, and “every child’s bedroom has a desk, a place to work,” Roberts said.
Realtor Cristina Munteanu, who deals in single-family properties as well as multi-unit developments across the county, said buyers are specifically looking for home office space and a home gym, but are ready. to sacrifice kitchen space in return, but want the kitchen to be up to date and efficient.
“They are still working from home. They order a lot but want updated appliances and a nicer kitchen space when eating at home,” Munteneau said.
The pandemic brought a new level of caution against germs which, two years later, entered the domestic market.
“Other things shoppers want are newer toilets and no carpets, nothing that can trap dirt or germs. Are they more aware of germs and flushing? Everybody wants a toilet Kohler,” Munteneau said, with technology that claims to kill germs more effectively.
Space, she said, is everything – nearby amenities no longer matter as much to her buyers as if there’s enough room for their family’s lifestyle at home.
“They used to want to live near a Starbucks and now they just want a space like a detached accessory living unit for work space. Many people who had to work from home at the start of the pandemic now want to continue to do so. Having your own office is great, as is having more space for the kids to play at home,” Munteneau said.
One World Architecture’s lead architect, Ken Parel-Sewell, also said more owners are adding secondary suites to existing properties since the pandemic began.
“The pandemic has increased the demand for secondary suites. The common reasons customers build ADUs have only been accelerated by the pandemic. Whether it’s to house older relatives or other family members or to create rental income, the trend to build these units has grown steadily,” Parel-Sewell said.
Indeed, her observations mirror what Springfield observed in interior design and what Roberts now incorporates when she stages a home: everyone needs a place to work.
“We’re working on projects all over the country and this trend isn’t just in San Diego County, it’s everywhere. I have been a licensed architect for 25 years now. Over the past two years, home offices or workspaces have moved from the occasional demand for a desk in the corner of the kitchen or family room to dedicated desks with doors. This has prompted many clients to convert bedrooms into offices and expand their homes for more bedrooms,” Parel-Sewell said, and those who cannot afford to build new bedrooms have reallocated other space for quiet work and school areas.
With families spending more time together, Parel-Sewell said, the ideal space isn’t the same for everyone: Introverts need spaces to recharge on their own, and extroverts want to feel connected to others.
Not everyone has the budget for major home improvements, but after nearly two years of lifestyle changes, Parel-Sewell observed that “funds budgeted for traveling vacations are reallocated to renovations and home addition” and many of their clients decided to move forward with improvements they had been putting off, investing in their home space instead of spending time away from home.
Springfield also observes that people have completely changed their lifestyles as the months of working from home increase and offices close permanently. She believes this year’s office vacancies could be tomorrow’s affordable housing.
“Think about it, most people don’t need to drive 20 miles to work on things they can do at home with just a few work tools. My dream is to have us take some of these house projects and design a common space with a printer and office equipment, a sort of community office hub,” Springfield said.
The concept isn’t all that different from building an ADU in the backyard, finding a house with extra space, or even dividing a kid’s room with a curtain. to create a home office. These solutions all answer the question of how nearly two years of the pandemic have changed what people are looking for in home design and decorating: they are looking for peace, comfort, and a way to carve out their own space.