How COVID is Shaping Residential Construction and Design Trends

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When major global events like the COVID-19 pandemic strike, the effects are felt across every industry. We asked two industry experts to share their thoughts on the post-COVID trends that will be shaping the design, build, and decor of homes and buildings in the coming year.

Jamie Gold, CKD, CAPS, MCCWC is the author of Wellness by Design and a wellness design consultant specializing in creating healthier living environments. "I expect that residential construction is going to change as a result of COVID-19, and not just the processes required to ensure the health and safety of workers," says Gold.

"My focus is residential wellness design, and I'm already hearing experts in the building, architectural, wellness, and interiors segments talking about the changes they're looking at for their clients' homes."

Karla Krengel is a 3rd generation Kitchen & Bath Industry entrepreneur leading Krengel & Hood. "Just as a post 9/11 world left us living in our homes differently, the post-COVID world will too." Krengel believes upcoming remodels and new builds will have us seeking "Healthy Hygge" from our homes.

"Our homes are where we feel safe, and that translates to healthy," says Krengel.

Here are a few of the residential trends our experts expect to see in the near future:

Putting Entryways to Work

Gold expects new homes to include layout ideas that facilitate safer entry into the home for people and packages.

"If your front door is your main entry area, is it time to add in custom cabinetry shoe storage because you no longer wear shoes in your home?" asks Krengel.

Krengel expects to see more sinks added to mudrooms.

"Depending on your layout this could be the perfect place to wash your groceries, wash your hands, or even the bottom of your shoes, before any of the above make it into your home."

Krengel has even heard designers say they expect to see small sinks added to foyers and entry hallways as people prioritize ways to turn their home entries into safe places to wash away the outside world.

Eliminating Germs

Gold predicts the inclusion of surfacing materials -- countertops, cabinetry faces, and walls -- that are easier to disinfect. Smooth, hard-surface materials such as stainless steel, laminate, and porcelain are non-porous and often used in health care settings.

On the other hand, we'll probably see fewer textures, seams, and porous materials that are harder to disinfect and support the growth of biofilm, a group of microorganisms that stick together on hard surfaces.

"Expect to see an increase in the use of hands-free features for reduced germ spread, and user-friendly smart home technology that makes remote caregiving for older relatives easier and safer for both," adds Gold.

Lastly, Krengel believes hand sanitizers will become a prominent, permanent feature in homes. "Just as we build soap dispensers into our granite countertops, why not an antibacterial pump built into a countertop too?"

A Refuge from Stress

"The pandemic has brought a lot of stress with it," notes Krengel. She forecasts more incorporation of calming spaces dedicated to meditation and other stress-busting activities.

One of the best ways to de-stress comes from connecting with nature. Gold predicts post-COVID construction and design to include more connections to nature and biophilic inclusion, design that emphasizes the incorporation of natural elements with the use of natural, sustainable materials in the home.

Room to Zoom

Could COVID put an end to open floor plans? Shelter-in-place orders meant many of us had to struggle to carve out separate spaces to work from -- or self-quarantine -- at home, which can be difficult to do in big, open spaces.

"We've seen how important it is to have the ability to work from home, not to mention the space to separate an ill family member," notes Gold. Health care professionals and other essential workers also have needed zones to self-quarantine away from family members as a precautionary measure.

And large open spaces can also make those Zoom meetings difficult, to say the least.

"Multiple Zoom meetings and open floor plans can test home's acoustics," adds Krengel. "Dividers may be necessary to not only cut acoustics but visual noise as well."

No extra room to turn into a home office?

"A little creativity and custom cabinetry can transform a space into a home office," says Krengel. "Unused space under stairs, the end of a large hallway, reconfiguring a nook in your home, or simply adding a table behind a sofa to function as a desk will work, too."

From safer entry to the homes, dedicated workspaces, and a healthier home environment, there's no doubt that today's pandemic will have a lasting impact on the design and build of residential homes tomorrow. What trends do you expect to see in a post-COVID world?

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