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How the pandemic has changed home design, according to 3 designers

The pandemic is changing how people design their houses. Three interior designers reflect on the home trends they're seeing right now.
/ Source: TMRW

There’s no question about it, the pandemic has changed how we live — especially when it comes to our homes.

As we found ourselves spending a lot more time in our houses this year due to lockdowns and social distancing, we also had more time to figure out what we want and need in a living space.

“Pre-pandemic, everyone was on the go all the time,” Taniya Nayak, Boston-based interior designer who will be seen this summer on HGTV’s “Battle on the Beach,” told TMRW. “During the pandemic we found new ways to interact, which all centered on the home, and this re-shaped the way we worked, slept, lived, exercised and entertained. Now we are putting more time and energy into more uses and spaces of our homes and designing them for a new lifestyle today, which is home-centered.”

From structural changes, like the layout, to aesthetic changes, like color choices, designers are seeing a transformation of interior trends.

Below, interior designers share the ways home design is changing as a result of the pandemic.

1. Private spaces are back

Big, beautiful open layouts have been all the rage, but as families worked and learned from home this past year, the need for private space has become more important again.

“Some say that open-concept floor plans are dead,” Clara Jung of Banner Day Interiors in San Francisco, told TMRW. “I wouldn't go that far, but I believe that people are heading toward dedicating different spaces for more specific functions. They're embracing the coziness and intimacy smaller and more private spaces can provide.”

2. Home offices are high priority

Designers are seeing clients prioritize home offices now, since more people starting working remotely because of the pandemic. Maskot / Getty Images

One of the main spaces to get that private treatment is the home office.

“Gone are the days of popping open your laptop at the dining room table,” said Nayak. “Homeowners are dedicating spaces to their work hours and setting up these spaces more reminiscent of a traditional office where they can leave the workday behind.”

Nayak said she’s seeing an uptick of custom built-ins for both the home office and remote learning.

And, of course, having a pleasing aesthetic background for a full day of Zoom calls has become important, too, added Jung. Natural light, pretty artwork, plants and no clutter are all things people are considering when it comes to setting up and decorating a video call space.

3. People are getting creative with underutilized spaces

That spare room that's not getting any use right now could be turned into a home gym. Courtesy Christopher Dibble

“A lot of clients are looking to turn any currently unused space, like a basement, into multipurpose rooms,” said Max Humphrey, an interior designer based in Portland, Oregon, and the author of the book “Modern Americana.”

Attics, garages, dining rooms and spare bedrooms are also being turned into new spaces like home offices, craft rooms and even wine cellars. The home gym is also a highly sought-after space now since people want to work out in the comfort of their own house. Humphrey said he’s been designing a lot of them recently.

4. Outdoor spaces are gaining more attention

More and more people are creating outdoor living rooms that can host friends and family safely during the pandemic. Courtesy Christopher Dibble

People are spending a lot more time outdoors when meeting up with friends and family outside of their household because it feels safer in the pandemic. Humphrey said he’s seeing a lot more people invest in and prioritize their backyards with bigger decks and entertaining areas.

And it’s not just tables and chairs, but whole setups that make the space feel more like an outdoor living room or an extension of your main living space. “I put a TV on my covered porch so when I do have movie night or want to watch a soccer game I can at least be outdoors,” he said.

5. Colors are becoming bolder

Interior designers are getting more requests for bolder colors as well as more calming hues since the pandemic started. Courtesy Christopher Dibble

Perhaps staring at white walls and neutral colors day-in and day-out has left many craving something a little more lively. From colorful kitchens to funky designs, people are embracing color and pattern again, Humphrey said.

Jung added that statement tile has become a common request.

But, at the same time, people have also been looking to create soothing and calming spaces, she said. “So we've tried to carve out such rooms for our clients, filled with greenery and natural light where feasible.”

While the pandemic has certainly been hard, it has led to some positive home decor-related changes. "I think a well-designed space can lead to a happier day," Humphrey said. And isn't that what we all need right now?