7 Ways the Coronavirus Has Changed the Way We Decorate Our Homes
After 100-plus days spent staring at your own four walls, you’ve probably found one, two or OK, three dozen things you’d like to change about your home. You’re not alone. And while at first, we considered some of these changes temporary—surely, the kids’ backyard bounce house was getting deflated the second parks reopen—some seem here to stay, at least for the next few years. We turned to designer and trend forecaster Nancy Fire, as well as Kelly Wilkniss, host of My Soulful Home on the Smart Healthy Green Living Channel and the Decorating Tips & Tricks podcast, to uncover the trends they’re seeing in homes across the country, as we collectively create a new “normal.”
The Rise of the Less-Open Floor Plan
For the past few years, real estate listings and design shows have been raving about kitchens that lead into dining rooms that lead into living rooms. But all it took was an entire family home 24/7 to realize those wide open spaces are best left to a Dixie Chicks song. “If you don’t have privacy and good acoustics, you realize all too soon how much you need it,” Fire says.
That may mean hanging barn doors to create a sense of division between rooms—or even screen dividers in studio apartments—as well as increased interest in older homes that aren’t so, well, open.
2. The Return of the Kitchen Pantry
As we stocked up to self-isolate, many of us found a renewed need for our pantries—and that likely won’t go away once restaurants reopen nationwide, Fire says. “With everything so unknown—people not knowing what’s next or if the virus is coming back in the fall—we’re going to reprogram how we use our pantries,” she explains. Fire, like many of her clients, had been using the space largely to house small appliances, like food processors, juicers and slow cookers, but now that she’s cooking most of her meals at home, she needs that extra space for groceries. It’s no wonder searches for “pantry organization containers” are up 40 percent over the past three months, according to Google.
3. The Emerging Green Thumbs
“The garden design aspect of my business has gone through the roof,” says Wilkniss, who’s based in California. “For a lot of people, that’s their only real connection to the outside world right now.” And through these outdoor projects—be it full-blown landscaping or a tiny container garden—many people are finding a passion for boosting their curb appeal (or just growing their own fresh herbs to cook with).
4. The Need for a Dedicated Workspace
Your laptop balanced precariously on the edge of the sofa was fine—when you were working from home a couple days out of the year. But if you’ve been working from home (or you’re considering a career change that would allow you to do so), a home office starts to feel crucial. “It’s frustrating for people to have to clean up at the end of the work day and reset each morning—you’re never settled,” Fire says.
It’s a sentiment Wilkniss echoes: “You could put a small desk at the top of a landing of a staircase, or place a pedestal table and chair in your living room, just as long as you carve out a space for your work.” As someone who’s been working remotely for 12 years, she also adds a caveat: Just don’t set up an office in your bedroom. Seeing all those papers (and remembering your miles-long to-do list) “can impede your ability to sleep and relax,” she warns.
5. The Increased Interest in Sustainability
Fire has been an advocate for sustainable living for years, and amid the pandemic, she’s seen an increased interest in it from her clients as well, whether that means installing solar panels, repurposing old furniture or investing in more durable décor. Part of it seems sparked by a desire to be more self-sufficient; the other part a result of increased free time. “Now that people are at home more, they have more time to read up things and research what they buy,” she says.
6. The Desire to Brighten Things Up
When you’re in the same room all the time, you start to notice how the natural light shifts throughout the day—and realize you could really use a new lamp or two to brighten things up. Wilkniss suggests having three sources of light in every room: overhead, ambient (say, sunrays streaming in through a window or a floor lamp) and task (as in a reading light or table lamp). If things seem dark in an area, do a quick audit—you may just need to rearrange a piece of furniture to have a more enjoyable space all day long.
7. Dedicated Package Drop-Off Areas
Now that your Amazon, Etsy and Dermstore deliveries are becoming more regular, you might be tempted to create a designated spot to house those boxes. Fire has seen more clients start to design their porches with that in mind, and to meet the demand, more companies are designing parcel lockers and mail boxes with built-in compartments for that very purpose.