During the last uncertain 12 months, we’ve been all rewriting the playbook as we go and, along this journey, many important lessons were learned.
While people all over the world started to interact with their homes in a much deeper way and understand the importance of “home” and what it means to have a safe place, our jobs as interior designers became more challenging. And this new unexpected challenges did teach us a lot.
So you might benefit from the main lessons I learned during the last year, some I learned the hard way and some just by curiosity. I think you might use more than one in your own space, no matter what it looks like.
1. Privacy Matters
Privacy gives us the power to choose our thoughts and feelings and who we share them with. And ultimately, privacy helps protect our physical and mental health.
For anyone sharing their homes with other human beings, let it be family, friends or just roommates, the last year highlighted the need for private spaces where each person can spend some time alone. Whether co-working with your partner and discovering they were too loud in the office than they regularly were at home, or realizing that you needed to concentrate at certain points in the day, all of us have had some “a-ha” or eureka! moments… am I right?
We are all striving to carve some private or at least semi-private spaces in our homes and home layouts are being changed to incorporate delimited spaces rather than an open concept. (I believe office spaces will also change as we go back, but that is another article altogether, let’s focus on our homes).
I have a client who described the new environment like a “whole village now” with constant noise being a non-invited guest. They’ve had to smartly consider sound proofing the home office space with the technology that sound studios use so as to get the decibels down to get concentration in her daily activity. Yes, sound -or silence- plays an important role in our sanity and productivity.
2. Functionality matters
Some people managed to move to bigger houses or apartments during the pandemic but most of us needed to adapt our “old spaces” to the new needs of life indoors so, more than ever, our homes needed to be functional. Luxury is not just how pretty is the sofa anymore, but how beautiful and how well every single piece of furniture and décor responds to our needs.
3. Lighting matters
Light has always been the element that sets the visual mood in any design. Now, the “new normal” of working from home, socializing from home and being seen mostly through a screen reinforced the importance of good and versatile lighting in a space. If one source of light has never been recommended, now it should be almost forbidden.
Also, while we should be grateful for any natural light and sunlight coming into to our space, it requires more planning: choosing the right shades for our home office became a crucial piece of the decoration process.
4. At-Home Entertaining Matters
Many months of sheltering showed us that home is a safe space and home entertaining became more popular than ever. It is safe, it is cheaper and cozy. And of course, spaces should be designed accordingly: living rooms are being revitalized and backyards, porches and patios are being carefully planned.
The pleasure of table settings and the search for pretty tableware are being rediscovered. I’ve got friends that decided to use their “nice silverware” for every day. Could it be that COVID not only brought life vulnerability to our senses but also a need to enjoy every single moment and celebrate what we share with our loved ones? If this was a wakeup call, let’s welcome it for that learning.
5. SPA bathroom matters
Somehow back to the privacy needs, the bathroom, for many of us, is one of the few places in our homes that can offer precious moments of solitude as well as a refuge to unwind from the stresses of the day with a nice hot shower or warm bath. In this, the bathroom becomes much more than just another room in the house, it becomes a safe space.
So, whether you are taking a few minutes for yourself to get ready for a Zoom meeting or enjoying a nice bath after a long day, our bathrooms are a refuge and should be decorated as such. And remember: this is the place to let your imagination take full control.
6. Memories matter
Your family’s mementos tell a story. Your story. These items are the reminders of who you are, of where you’ve been, what you’ve accomplished so far, and the people you’ve learned to love along the way.
I have always encouraged friends and clients to display them proudly and during the pandemic it became even more important to make homes unique and to keep the memories alive.
7. Home Office Matters
Working from home in a more permanent way requires planned workspace that promotes productivity.
Since the start of the pandemic, I saw a big increase in home office design that inspired me to write 2 articles about it: the first one about how to plan your work space and another focused on how to choose the right desk and chair. I encourage you to check them if you are planning to create or improve your home office.
8. Kids designated spaces matter
Before COVID, home offices, as a dedicated space or at least as a corner, were already an important place in most of the homes, now they are simply essential and so are kids’ spaces for learning. Hopefully, full time virtual learning will be soon a thing from the past but since the method has been implemented, no one will be surprised if it is still used part time in the future.
A room or at least one nook to each child, with all of their school things in a centralized location is super important to keep the kids focused and the parents sane.
9. Materials matter
More than ever, entryways, mudrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, and any other high-traffic areas should be designed with easy-to-clean hard surfaces, such as glazed ceramic tile, and materials that naturally repel bacteria to limit the spread of germs.
Pandemic or not, it is always wise to use naturally antibacterial surfaces such as copper and brass to keep homes (and people) safe and healthy.
10. Quality Matters
As we spend more time at home, we become more critical and careful with our choices to decorate our places. Although there will be always situations where we need more temporary pieces, investing in quality, mainly for high-use pieces is a trend that is here to stay.
Pieces that are built to last are not only beneficial to our spaces, they are better for the environment and can actually save us money and stress in the long run.
While online shopping even for furniture became the new normal, the supply chain is collapsed and shipments are taking forever, local in-stock items from small business are more valuable and custom-made pieces are an option to be considered.
And after all is said and done, more than ever I learned that our own taste matters: design and décor should be very personal and truly speak to the people who call a place home.
Regardless of whether coronavirus will result in permanent changes to interior design, this last 12 months have heightened the intimacy we have with our homes and I have a strong feeling that it won’t fade away. In these uncertain times, I am almost certain. 😉