Necessity is the mother of invention. Because of the pandemic, we have been forced to use our houses as workspaces, schools, entertainment centers, and fitness centers.
American Lifestyle Magazine recently noted the need for dual home offices is one of the largest drivers of home renovation at this time.
“We are seeing a lot of home additions to add another room. Either to be an office or to add another bedroom to compensate for a current bedroom that has been converted to an office,” said Scott Hochuli, co-owner, Hochuli Design & Remodeling Team, a Rosie-Certified Partner . “The biggest challenge is overcoming the instant-gratification hurdle, and helping the homeowner realize the longer timeframe associated with the process for an addition; plans and engineering development, city permitting, scheduling busy trades, material lead times, etc.”
John Reuter, owner, Assurance Builders, a Rosie-Certified Partner , says that bathroom and kitchen remodels remain popular. Because people are cooking more, appliances are a “big” item for his clients. If you need to order furniture or electronics for these spaces, note there may be a delay in receiving them. “The scarcity of materials means we must plan for a long lead time for products,” said Reuter.
At the start of 2020 remote work was a gradually rising long-term trend. The pandemic has changed that. A Gartner survey of company leaders found that 80 percent plan to allow employees to work remotely at least part of the time after the pandemic and 47 percent will allow employees to work from home full-time.
If a renovation is not an option, consider including small bump-outs (an extension of a room or building that creates a projection in a wall) within a larger space, reconfigure spare bedrooms, repurpose a walk-in closet, or convert small outbuildings or garage apartments.
“People will spend more time and effort in designing a unique working space to maximize their concentration, motivation, and productivity,” says Jing Xue, COO, and co-founder of Décor Matters . “Things like location, colors, decorations, and furniture have a big effect on your mental and physical state. In fact, bright lighting has been shown to make people happier, ambient sounds help people focus, and poor air quality can lead to a drop in productivity.”
Décor Matters, a virtual design studio uses Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence technology that allows users to visualize the entire design in their real home.
With virtual meetings such as Zoom or Teams being the new norm, it is important to have a space that is free of distractions (kids, spouse, pets). Be sure your conference space is private, has appropriate lighting, minimal noise, and is not cluttered.
Older children will often be able to work independently. Consider setting up a desk or reading nook in their rooms. Find a shelf or cabinet where you can store the books, science project kits, etc. for easy access when it’s time for school to begin.
Don’t forget about the kitchen. Art and science experiments are likely to take place there. Make sure your surfaces can withstand them. Cover surfaces with an oil cloth to protect them from the mess.
Get the kids’ input. You can change things that don’t work until you’ve put together a plan and a space that suits their learning styles and your family’s lifestyle.
Home Gym, Yoga Space, Personal Sanctuary
Décor Matters suggests if your home gym or yoga/meditation space doesn’t have much natural light, adding large mirrors will reflect the light from lamps and make the space feel more open. Mirrors also give the illusion of bigger dimensions, so you’ll feel as though you can move around more freely.
Whites and metallics blend nicely with sports equipment. Mount small shelves on the walls, where you can store fresh towels and toiletries – making the room look more like a professional gym.
For a yoga and meditation space, choose pastel wall colors to soften the area. Wrap fairy lights around mirrors or place electric candles on the floor during your yoga sessions. Cushions, mats, and beanbags will enhance the cozy atmosphere.
Add framed motivational quotes or positive thoughts to hang on the wall. They are inspiring and announce the room’s purpose.
According to CNBC, outdoor space renovations are up by 300 percent year over year as homeowners look for more living, dining, entertaining, and recreational space in their own backyards. With restaurants and entertainment venues at half capacity, enhancing the backyard with outdoor kitchens, sports areas, and entertainment zones have increased in popularity. Pool demand is on the rise as community and school sports continue to decline. New decks and new landscaping designs are popular, creating a variety of outdoor spaces for families to stay active and staycation.
“New pools and pool remodel have become the new family trip,” said Martin Lopez, construction manager/co-owner Omni Pool Builders and Design, a Rosie-Certified Partner. We’re seeing family spending more time at home and investment in the backyard has become the norm. We have seen nonstop growth that doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon with COVID-19 continuing. New pool sales are up 42 percent and remodels 38 percent.”
Interiors Essentials Scottsdale, a Rosie-Certified Partner, is also seeing a rise in outdoor upgrades. “People are not going away on holiday, so they are creating their outdoor space to enjoy the open air,” said Angela Hirst, showroom and design manager.
Track your home’s traffic patterns. Look for empty spaces that never get used. These may be the ideal space for a new home office, study area, or sanctuary.
Most people can’t work or study on their beds without getting sleepy. Working or studying at the dinner table affords a lot of space for papers and books but, it can be inconvenient come mealtime.
Think through your preferences. Do you like to study or work early in the morning or late in the evening? Are you easily distracted by noise? Do you need extra light? Do you find windows distracting? Do you like to sit or stand?
If multiple people are working and the kids are distance learning, make sure your internet can handle the demand.
In this era of COVID and being in close quarters all day and evening, you may want to consider upgrading your air system. “People are going to really need to think about air quality,” said Hirst. “Adding a purification system to the HVAC is something they should address. It’s a matter of staying safe.”
Keeping these ideas and factors in mind will help you design workspaces and study areas that suit your family’s needs.