As I wrote in my previous article How 2020 Has Changed Our Homes, 2020 did a doozy on home design – with clients clamoring for changes in personal space and home offices, reconfigured mudrooms and an expansion of usable outside space. But what does all of this mean for 2021? The following is a glimpse at what I anticipate the future might hold. These are my thoughts and opinions, some I’ve seen at trade shows, some are my hopes for our future homes, and some just might be a trend that comes and goes. Of course, I don’t claim to be a psychic with a crystal ball, so please take it all with a grain of salt and read on for some advice and predictions.
Early shutdown orders, limited seating at restaurants and a desire to stay safely at home have all resulted in more cooking and eating at home. This increased use of kitchens is drawing attention to poor kitchen designs that may include lack of storage, inefficient layout and an inability to have multiple cooks working together.
This SeaTac kitchen included a 48” wide refrigerator to maximize food storage, a desk area, and behind the range wall is a walk-in pantry for extra storage. Meanwhile, there is an efficient work triangle between the gas range, refrigerator and two sinks.
Whether you consider yourself a basic cook or gourmet chef, perhaps COVID is giving you a reason to try new things and expand your culinary skills. If so, did you know you can get help directly from smart appliances? That’s right; your appliances can teach you to cook! WAY back in January 2020, a lifetime ago, I went to the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show. You know all those trade shows that people used to attend by the thousands – where people were packed in like sardines and no masks or social distancing? Yeah the good ‘ol days! Anyway – while I innocently milled around with the masses, I watched a demonstration by GE Monogram of a microwave hood that featured a screen on which you can watch cooking videos as well as FaceTime with your mom for instructions.
Dacor has taken this a step further with an induction cooktop featuring a 7” LCD screen. The app recognizes your recipe and will adjust as needed. For example, when the pot starts to boil, the cooktop will drop it to a simmer per the recipe instructions.
Then there are the Miele appliances – such as their steam oven: you can tell it what you’re cooking and it will tell you when to put each item in so that everything is ready at the same time. The Miele ovens you can input a specific item you want to cook, such as a meat or vegetable, and it will suggest recipes and exactly how to cook it…magic!
Hands-Free, Sanitize, and Vocal Control
Before the pandemic, smart homes and vocal control were already becoming increasingly popular in remodels and new home construction, but it was considered a luxury, something you did because it made your life easier and it was cool. But now some of these trends are becoming seen as necessities, such as…
- Hand-free faucets or soap dispensers
- Voice activated showers and appliances
- Auto-activation of lights. This isn’t new (you see it in most office spaces), but it’s now becoming popular in our homes, too. This one simple change prevents the transmission of germs, saves on our energy bills, and helps the planet. Win, win, win!
- Sanitizing stations or equipment for towels, washcloths, sponges, phones, etc. Miele’s steam oven can sterilize glassware, sponges, etc. besides cooking your dinner!
- Germ-resistant materials for flooring and surfaces as well as new technology with ultraviolet lamps to kill bacteria on fabric and rugs, for example.
- Smart toilets that clean and sanitize after each use
- Built-in air purifiers or free-standing units. This helped people in Western states during the fires of 2019 and 2020 so it’s not just a pandemic thing when considering these items.
Clients will look to create living environments that allow for completely self-sufficient lifestyles. This will create more interior design demand for home theater rooms, bars, wine cellars, swimming pools, tennis courts, spas and gyms. These once pie-in-the-sky dreams will become more commonplace, rather than seen as unnecessary add-ons.
I’ll be honest, I’m not sure how excited I am about more time at home and less time sitting on a beach drinking Mai Tai’s, but staycations will likely become increasingly popular, so I might have to open up to the idea.
This is a bit more of a daunting task that will take more time and a bigger investment, but the possibilities for how you live and enjoy your home are expanding. And you should keep in mind that the added value could pay off in spades down the road.
We added on to our own home back in 2015. I had been working out of one of our spare bedrooms, space was getting really tight, and I was tired of walking past my office 30 times a day. I had considered opening a separate studio outside the home, but when I started to notice the change and increase in traffic I decided more time on the road was the last thing I needed.
So, we decided to add on to our home – creating a hallway on the backside of the house and adding a 300 square foot office and additional bathroom on the other side of the garage. It’s quiet, private and separate from the main house. More importantly, we designed it so that it could be my office, but we pre-plumbed for a kitchenette so that at some point, it can become a rental or a live-in caregiver unit, or a mother-in-law with a separate entrance. Or, since our house is fairly small, it might become a rec room or a master suite if one of us isn’t able to manage stairs one day. All of these options have increased the value of our home substantially and it has already paid for itself as far as I’m concerned.
As we have learned from COVID, life is unpredictable. Who knows what the future of home design might bring? But considering the changes that came with 2020, I think it’s a smart bet to really consider how you use your home, what your home means to you, and how you might be happiest in your home.
If you’re considering some changes, I’d love to help you brainstorm some ways we can make that happen.
Melinda is the Principal Interior Designer and Owner of Slater Interiors in Mill Creek, Washington. She specializes in helping clients fall in love with the home they already have, as well as helping boutique businesses bring that extra personal touch to the office, employees, and their clients.
Through her interior architectural space planning and design work, she helps clients discover the potential hiding in their home and work – no matter how cramped, outdated, or non-functional it may feel right now. With a combination of values-driven creative thinking, collaborative planning, and an emphasis on sustainability, she can help transform any space into a sanctuary.
She doesn’t believe in a magic design bullet or quick fixes. What she does believe in is listening, learning, and encouraging her clients to dream big!
With 15 years in the industry, Melinda knows what’s possible for your home and can help you see it too.
Melinda has an AA in Interior Design from Bellevue College. Prior to becoming an interior designer, she worked as a licensed massage therapist for 12 years, the last two years focused on helping hospice patients find comfort and relaxation through touch. It was through this work with people at the end of their lives that Melinda became focused on the importance of the environment we live in and the need to be surrounded by beauty and inspiration as we live – and as we die. She has taken this philosophy and approaches every project with it in mind – working with clients to build a home that is representative of who they are and how they want to express themselves.
Melinda grew up on a small farm in Moscow, Idaho and her deep love of animals and the planet remains to this day. Her motto: ‘a girl can always dream!’
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