In the article below, Senior Writer Georgia Madden from Houzz Australia talks about what the experts say is important to Australians in their homes no as a result of spending more time at home from COVID-19.
Most of us have spent more time at home in the past 12 months than ever before – a trend that’s set to continue as hybrid working models – with time spent working both at home and the office – become the norm. As a result, it has made us rethink exactly what we want from our homes. Research commissioned by residential developer Stockland in August 2020 supports this, with 38 percent of those surveyed reportedly less satisfied with at least one aspect of their current home or neighbourhood. The main grievances are a lack of indoor and outdoor space, with 62 percent of prospective buyers more likely to consider space-related features than before the pandemic. Space-related features that top the list include storage (44 percent), a separate study (40 percent) and a private outdoor space (39 percent).
1. Bigger & More Flexible Kitchens
It was only a couple of years ago that companies such as Ikea were predicting the disappearance of kitchens within a decade in urban areas. Covid-19 changed all that. “Customer surveys during Covid pointed to an increased demand for larger kitchens,” says Diana Sarcasmo, architect and general manager of design at Mirvac.“We are now seeing the kitchen take on greater importance in the home. As people spent more time at home during Covid, they developed a sense of nostalgia for the family home. They cooked more, ate dinner together around the family table, played puzzles and worked. That implies a need for homes that are flexible and can multitask,” she says. “The focus is on making the kitchen multitask as a place for meal preparation, conversation and entertainment. It is about creating a space that is as beautiful as it is functional,” says Sarcasmo. Personalisation of the kitchen, with features such as open display areas, is also on the rise, she says. “In recent years, we have given customers more opportunity to personalise their space with the inclusion of shelving and joinery.”
2. Healthy Homes
‘Biophilia’ might not be a term that every Australian is familiar with, but there’s a growing awareness of the effect our home has on our mood. According to the Stockland survey, over 80 percent of respondents say they’re more aware that wellness and the home environment are intrinsically linked. “There’s an increased emphasis on healthy homes,” says Sarcasmo. “People have become more focused on their health and wellbeing, wanting a healthier environment with natural light, cross-flow ventilation and balconies.“They also want easy access to nature and shared spaces where they can connect with their neighbours. Restrictions on movement underlined the need for amenities such as shared spaces, rooftop entertaining areas and gardens, as well as having parks and open space close by,” says Sarcasmo.
3. Work From Home Areas
“The Zoom revolution highlighted the need for a dedicated work space, whether it’s an alcove, study or spare bedroom, that could be easily sound-proofed” says Sarcasmo. “In previous years as technology became mobile there had been a shift away from a dedicated study. However, this is changing back and the increased demand for larger apartments reflects a desire for flexible space as people embrace a hybrid model where they work from home and the office,” she says.
4. Multitasking Spaces
“Homes now have to multitask,” says Sarcasmo. “Flexibility will be key to future design.” Does this mean the end of open-plan design? Quite possibly, says Andrea Lucena-Orr, colour and communications manager at Dulux Group Australia. “After years of open-plan living spaces and open arches into living areas, we may see more doors being installed once again.” In the meantime, if you have no choice but to integrate a study area into an existing open-plan space or another room such as a bedroom, there are creative ways you can create a subtle sense of division, says Lucena-Orr. “A simple painted wall in front of a desk can help differentiate your work area from the rest of the room. A study nook or even a corner in a bedroom can be transformed into a working space simply by changing the colour in a small area.”
5. More Texture
Perhaps as a response to spending more time on our mobile phones and tablets, there seems to be a yearning to interact with tactile, natural materials, says Lucena-Orr. “Since the start of Covid, there’s a lot more texture in accessories and furnishings. We’re also starting to see texture in paint once again.”
With good hygiene very much in the spotlight over the past 12 months or so, it’s little surprise to see fixtures with advanced hygiene features coming to the fore – particularly in high-use spots such as bathrooms. “Rimless toilets are fast becoming the new standard as they provide added hygiene and are easier to clean than a standard toilet,” says Daniela Santilli, bathrooms and kitchens merchandising leader at Reece Bathrooms. “This toilet design removes the rim from the pan, reducing opportunities for dirt, grime and germs to hide. They are more hygienic and easier to clean thanks to a reconsidered design that makes a slight change in the way water is distributed, meaning one flush will wash away material from every corner of the pan. “We have also seen an enormous spike in popularity of smart toilets such as the Roca In-Wash Inspira design. The Inspira cleans itself after each use and features clever integrations, like in-built bidet functionality that offers integrated cleaning and drying, a LED night light and control over water temperature and direction – all via a remote,” says Santilli. “Touchless flush buttons are also transitioning from commercial spaces to the home. You simply wave your hand in front of the half or full flush button to operate,” she says.
7. Natural Materials
“Using timber to inject warmer tones and tactility into Australian interiors is a trend that we’re seeing in 2021,” says Santilli. “Vanity tops with a vein-marble top evoke such a natural feel, bringing day-spa indulgence to life in the home bathroom. Organic tapware is also making its mark, with finishes such as brushed nickel, gunmetal and even rustic irons and golds bring a grounding feel to the bathroom.”
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