James Mitchell

Whether for the construction of new homes or renovation of existing ones, homeowners’ choices of home features and design are greatly influenced by recent times. For instance, sales of carpets decreased by 7.5 percent in Home Depot in 2020. In contrast, luxury vinyl tile or plank sales have increased as these materials are easier to clean and disinfect. They now come with certification for indoor air quality, guaranteeing against the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOC). For instance, using industry-standard ASTM F-3010 primers on concrete before laying vinyl tiles or planks mitigates moisture vapor transmission and prevents damage to the flooring system.

The quarterly Home Design Trends Survey released by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in September 2021 reflects these new preferences. The number of searches on specific home features on Houzz US from April to June 2021 compared to those in the same period in 2020 also gives insights into what interests homeowners these days.

Disaster-Proofing Homes

Recent extreme weather events have motivated homeowners to prepare their dwellings for the worst, apart from the COVID-19 pandemic. With power outages happening at the height of storms, the installation of backup power generators increased by 14 percent from 2020 to 2021. To protect against the cold, the installation of super-insulation increased by 11 percent. Modifications to make houses hurricane-resistant or tornado-resistant increased by 8 percent.

Expanding to the Outdoors

People do not want to be cramped indoors. With previous pandemic restrictions and prevailing fears of the COVID-19 Delta variant, many people still prefer staying at home most of the time. However, they want to have more time in the fresh air to soak in the sunshine during the day and enjoy nights outside.

According to AIA, outdoor living was already popular among 61 percent of homeowners in 2020 and increased to 70 percent in 2021. This means more people are adding outdoor features such as decks, patios, gazebos, cabanas, and outdoor kitchens.

Some homeowners also brought the outdoors into their indoor spaces. According to Houzz, there was a 353 percent increase in indoor pots and planters searches in 2021. On social media platforms like Instagram, many people are showing off their indoor plant collections.

Still, people also ensured they kept their homes protected from the COVID-19 virus. Mudrooms are where people can leave footwear and other items used outside before entering the house. This is also where they disinfect their deliveries first before bringing them indoors. Mudrooms were popular among 38 percent of homeowners in 2020, but this decreased slightly to 35 percent in 2021, probably due to the rollout of vaccinations.

fancy living room

Working from Home

Many people are still working from home due to the pandemic. In general, the popularity of home offices tied with outdoor living in 2021 at 69 percent, up 1 percent from 2020. On Houzz, searches on home offices increased 108 percent.

The addition of rooms specifically used for virtual meetings increased by 24 percent. As time progressed, the need for enclosed workspaces that filter the noise from the rest of the household for Zoom meetings became more apparent.

As people spent more time at home, the addition of a multi-purpose room was prevalent among 43 percent of homeowners in 2020, increasing to 46 percent in 2021. Homeowners can use these rooms for distance learning or children’s play areas afterward, containing the kids’ noise. This room can be a recreational room for families with no children, providing more entertainment while staying home. Based on popular Houzz searches, homeowners also used these multi-purpose areas as art studios, home bars, wine cellars, or home theaters.

Extended Families

Many families chose to have their elderly parents move in to be part of their bubble during the pandemic. Modifications to accommodate several generations were already popular among 43 percent in 2020 and increased to 49 percent in 2021. Among the popular improvements in 2021 are adding bedrooms on ground floors, widening hallways and doorways, ramps or elevators, making the entry on the same level as the ground, and adding features that are easy to use such as lever faucets.

Staying Fit at Home

Since gyms were closed and many were still wary of going when they reopened, the addition of home gyms and yoga spaces increased from 23 percent in 2020 to 39 percent in 2021. On Houzz, searches on home gyms increased by 156 percent. Experts recommend adopting an exercise regimen to strengthen the immune system against COVID-19 and produce feel-good hormones that fight pandemic stress.

Home Technology

The pandemic did not stop the adoption of new technologies but increased it instead from 2020 to 2021:

  • Home installation of electric docking stations increased from 62 to 74 percent.
  • The use of an energy management system increased from 53 to 56 percent.
  • The installation of solar panels increased from 37 to 54 percent.
  • The adoption of a smart home system increased from 32 to 41 percent.
  • The installation of security systems increased from 36 to 41 percent.

People are now leveraging how technology can make their lives better even as they stay home. It is part of the movement to make the home more self-sufficient and designed according to the needs of its residents.

The COVID-19 pandemic certainly changed the lives of people in the past two years. People have become more conscious about the utility of their home upgrades than they are of aesthetics as they focus on keeping their homes safe and secure from any more calamities that come their way.

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