It’s no secret the pandemic reshaped the role of our homes. Once somewhere to rest, recharge, and host the occasional backyard barbecue, home is now the epicenter of where many of us work, exercise, and more. Are these changes still having an effect on homeowners’ priorities for their homes today? We spoke to five design and remodeling professionals on Houzz, who told us what their customers are asking for now.
Homeowners’ Priorities For Their Homes
- Comfortable, Cozy Spaces “There is a noticeable shift away from the larger square footage everyone seemed to want over the past several years, with clients asking for smaller, more well-appointed and finished rooms such as libraries and dens,” says Matthew Harper, president at Utah-based building firm Harper & Co.“I think a lot of these changes are driven by the fact that many people have realized they don’t need more space for the sake of having more space,” Harper says. “They want usable, well-functioning spaces and don’t want to pay for square footage they don’t use.”
“We have also been designing and selecting finishes for the more intimate parts of the home, like sitting rooms, family rooms, and kitchens, with more natural-finish materials, including natural stone, stained wood, leather, and iron,” Harper says.
- Hidden Rooms “The most surprising things clients have asked for recently are hidden rooms and large vault doors covered and disguised to look like wall paneling,” Harper says. His clients anticipate using these rooms as secret storage areas for supplies or to conceal belongings, he says.
- Carpeting Wood flooring, beloved by homeowners for its natural look and feel, has been in the spotlight for years. However, according to Cynthia Stafford and Lindi Bolinger, principal designers and co-owners at TruDesign in Colorado, cozy carpet is making a comeback. Stafford and Bolinger say that while the trend for hardwoods in public areas isn’t going anywhere, they’re seeing more clients asking for wall-to-wall carpeting in private spaces like bedrooms and offices. They say their clients are craving warmth and softness in their homes, and carpeting can help achieve this.
- Home Office Spaces “Home offices have become a critical component of the program of the home,” says Adina Hall, founder and design director at the Chicago firm Adina Hall Design. “One hundred percent of our projects now have a minimum of two home offices, where at least one doubles as a guest bedroom.“Typically the offices have to be in separate zones of the home, within their sound-isolated enclosure, since virtual meetings are now a given part of everyday work life,” Hall says.
Hall says her firm is now incorporating home offices even in vacation homes — if necessary at the kitchen island, dining table, or even a balcony table facing the ocean so the space can quickly convert to a makeshift office space for the occasional email or phone call.
Harper says he’s also incorporating home office spaces in the kitchen. “I had two clients recently tell me they don’t want home offices because they do most all of their office work at the kitchen island,” he says. “Recently we have spent a lot of time designing the layout of kitchens to integrate seating and electronics use.”
- Aging-in-Place Features Growing numbers of clients are taking the long view when it comes to building or remodeling their homes, says Conlan Segerson at Connecticut building firm Segerson Builders. He says the company is increasingly being asked to include “features to allow for aging in place, including elevators, main-floor bedrooms and curb-free showers.”Twenty-four percent of homeowners remodeling their bathrooms are opting for a curb-free shower, a 3% increase over last year, according to the 2023 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study.11 Ways to Age-Proof Your Bathroom
- Home Theaters Pre-pandemic, it seemed our passion for fully equipped home theaters was on the decline, for reasons such as the amount of square footage they occupied. But as COVID lockdowns put the focus on finding new ways to have fun at home (and a halt to cinema outings), these spaces soon crept back into the spotlight.Now, three years later, a home theater features on many a client’s wish list, according to Eugene Sakai, CEO and partner at Studio S Squared Architecture in San Jose, California. He credits the trend to the fundamental change in what homeowners want from their homes today. “Home is becoming multipurpose,” Sakai says. “People who can afford it are becoming more home-centric as opposed to wanting to be in the workplace or an urban environment.”
- Pantry Kitchens No longer limited to grand estates, butler’s pantries have hit the mainstream and are now a common feature in new-build kitchens and kitchen remodels, Sakai says. It’s easy to see the appeal, particularly for those who love to entertain. Having a small, separate kitchen gives you an extra space to prep meals, run a second dishwasher, and store all those small appliances that can quickly become countertop clutter, meaning you can keep the main kitchen clean and clear for gathering, socializing, and serving.
- Home Gyms The pandemic ignited the at-home workout trend, and it’s showing little sign of slowing down. Sakai reports that growing numbers of his health-conscious clients are dedicating a room to an at-home gym with exercise equipment, storage, and appropriate flooring, allowing them to work up a sweat without having to set foot outside the front door.
- Blended Indoor-Outdoor Spaces Many Americans are moving to smaller homes, be it for budgetary reasons or lifestyle changes, such as the decision to downsize or live close to the city or coast. Because of that, they’re looking for clever ways to create big-home feels on small-home lots, Segerson says.“There’s an increased focus on blending the indoors and outdoors, giving clients the perception that their houses are larger than their interior square footage,” he says.
- Supersize Windows Bigger is better, it seems, when it comes to windows, with increasing numbers of clients willing to invest in glass that runs the full expanse of a room, Segerson says. “We’re seeing steel and aluminum window and door assemblies that create floor-to-ceiling glass walls, maximizing views and bringing in natural light.”
- Outdoor Recreation Features Since the pandemic, homeowners have been looking to get more from their backyards, adding aspirational landscape features such as basketball courts, tennis courts, and swimming pools, Sakai says.“There wasn’t as much investment into these sorts of spaces pre-pandemic,” he says. “In general, people seem willing to spend more on their home with less regard to resale value these days.”
It’s something Segerson has noticed too. “Clients want the flexibility to work and play at home comfortably and, since the pandemic, health, wellness, and creating outdoor entertainment areas has become a major focus,” he says.
“In our area, many clients who work from home have invested more into customizing and optimizing their homes, as they spend more of their week at home rather than in their office,” Segerson says.
- Backyard ADUs The backyard shed is making way for structures that are altogether more luxurious and functional, Segerson says. More clients are requesting “outbuildings, including pool houses and accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, that feature private bedrooms and kitchens for visiting family members and guests,” he says. “It’s all part of an increased focus on building more outdoor entertainment areas and features.”
Your turn: What design features are important in your home today and what would you like to add? Tell us in the Comments.
Article by Georgia Madden, Houzz Contributor.
Premier Home Remodeling in the Greater Phoenix Area
For high-end home design, build, and remodeling in the greater Phoenix area that reflects your vision, Homework Remodels will help you love your home again. Start your project by calling us at (602) 478-5102 or emailing [email protected] to discuss your remodeling project. We offer no-obligation in-home consultation. Our NARI-certified award-winning designers and craftsmen are eager to work with you to make your vision for your home a reality! See our portfolio here.
Find more informative blogs on our website here.