During the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, we have all gotten to know our homes better than we ever thought was possible. They have become our schools, our offices, our restaurants, and our movie theaters. In this time of change it is inevitable that we should think about all the things that we would like to change about our homes if we had the chance to do so.

We in the architecture and interior design fields have spent many online meetings during the pandemic discussing the same thing, trying to figure out where the trends in housing are headed. Not surprisingly many elements that owners are looking for at the moment are related to the cleanliness of the house and the air within it. HVAC systems are being specified or retrofitted with HEPA filtration to help pull viruses and bacteria from the air. In kitchens, owners are seeking surfaces that can easily be cleaned with disinfectants without ruining the finish or material. In the bathrooms, more owners want steam units for their showers, both to promote a higher sense of cleaning but also to create a sense of a spa-like sanctuary.

The desire to create places within the home where each person can relax and have some privacy is no doubt a side effect of so many people living so intensively under one roof. As college students and recent graduates have migrated back home to wait out the pandemic, the need for sanctuary and private space has perhaps never been greater.

Another feature that more owners are looking for these days is more openness and connection between the inside of the house and the exterior of the property. Studies have shown that open spaces are less likely to spread the COVID-19 virus than more tightly enclosed spaces. As the weather warms, the desire to be outside is strong but that is counteracted by the need to be socially distanced from others. The garden and back yard of one’s home offers the perfect solution to these contrasting demands for many people.

Within the house there is a general return to functionality over form. As homes are currently functioning not only as residences but also as offices, classrooms, restaurants and home theaters, people are demanding both flexibility and efficiency from their houses. Not surprisingly, they are also demanding high speed internet connectivity to make Zoom calls and other digital streaming service possible.

One practical change that has been brought on by the general shutting down of trade between nations during the pandemic is that owners are preferring products and materials that can be sourced within the United States. They are doing this both to avoid the uncertainties that currently exist in overseas manufacturing and shipping and for trying to help support the domestic economy.

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic is having a tremendous impact on both our finances and our states of mind. What we are all experiencing now will also certainly have long-term influences on how we want to live and how our homes will look and function in the future. Until then be well and stay safe.