Throughout history, how we inhabit physical space has been a primary defence against epidemics and this time is no different. You may not be aware but many of the popular design features incorporated in our homes today originated during past pandemics or disease outbreaks such as the Spanish Flu 1918, and the tuberculosis and dysentery epidemics.
According to bioethicist, Dr Elizabeth Yuko in an article for Architectural Digest “there is a very long, very interesting history of the intersection of health, architecture and design going back to ancient times”.
Before we step into how we see COVID-19 impacting the home buyer must have lists, and to share some tips from Coco Republic about how to enhance these spaces in your home, we wanted to share some home design changes that were as a result of past global health crisis’. As with past pandemics, we are going to see people come out of this with a much greater sense of what they want from their lifestyle and an awareness of what they’re looking for in a home.
White tiled kitchens and lino is still popular today with many homeowners, but this trend actually started at the end of the 19th Century. At that time, people were beginning to understand the danger of germs and importantly how they spread via food. Cleanliness and hygiene in the kitchen became very important. In order for people to easily wipe away visible dirt, white tiled kitchens, reminiscent of hospitals, became popular in the home. Additionally, homeowners opted for easier to clean and therefore more hygienic lino flooring over hardwood floorboards. As you would know these features are still popular in many home designs today.
Porches and enclosed balconies are also popular features in many homes today, but they actually originated during the Victorian era during the “tuberculosis epidemic” of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In a time before antibiotics, sunlight and fresh air were the best known “cures” for the deadly disease”. Sleeping porches became a feature of houses, with many people adding these to their second or third story as a place where kids could benefit from fresh air and potentially be safe from the disease, or where those with tuberculosis could rest outdoors.
Another interesting addition to architecture is the powder room / or guest bathroom. As Dr Yuko explains in previous generations homeowners had people delivering all sorts of things such as ice, food, milk etc to properties every week. They too were therefore also delivering goods to other houses in the neighbourhood, and these households may have been carriers of disease. The powder room was the more sanitary way of letting any visitors use a bathroom without the chance of contaminating the family bathroom.
So, what does that mean for us now during the COVID-19 era, what home design features could we expect to see and what features could homeowners look to add to their property to help add value and appeal to it post Coronavirus?
One of the most likely changes will be demand for a home office or a space where people can work from home. A few months ago, a home office was generally considered a nice bonus, but in the post coronavirus world, it will most likely become a necessity. Many companies were forced to set up systems to enable employees to work remotely, some predict that WFH will remain popular, even once restrictions end. The home office that was once a luxury, may suddenly become a must have.
As a homeowner, if you are looking to sell your property, consider whether you can add a small desk, chair and shelving to a guest room? This is an unobtrusive way to keep both the guest room for visitors and offer a space to WFH.
If space is tight it is important to think about how you can create multiple uses for your home as this is appealing to buyers:
We asked Coco Republic for tips on creating the perfect home office and this is what they said:
Outdoor spaces have always been a popular feature for buyers, but as a result of home isolation having somewhere private and in the open air, where people can escape to will be a top priority for buyers post COVID-19.
The process of coming home has changed dramatically for us all during COVID-19. Rather than simply walking through the door and dumping our bag, we now remove our shoes, coats, masks if we are wearing one and carefully wash our hands. In the future, even when COVID-19 has gone, we may still think a little differently about our entryways and remain more conscious about not bringing anything potentially contaminated inside.
Having a space near the front or back door where you can remove shoes, hang up jackets and wash your hands with sanitizer before stepping inside may be a good idea for quite a while.
Charlotte Dub from Coco Republic shares 6 key considerations when creating a mud room:
Creating a ‘drop-zone’ where we can leave germs at the door may be a popular feature for some time to come.
Washing hands is a key preventative measure against contracting COVID-19 and some experts are predicting touch free fixtures on faucets, cupboard doors, flush buttons and electronic controls will become more popular as we all try to design a more hygienic home.
Solar power and water tanks have been popular for homeowners for some time, however perhaps the buildings of the future will be built to have their own water supply and heating. According to Sergey Makhno a future theorist, “autonomous mini-stations generating alternative power will become a reality. The goal will be independence from the outside world, minimising the risks in the case of a full shutdown.” Whilst this isn’t an option to add to your property now if you are looking to sell, what this means for new buildings we will have to wait and see.