I, for one, will be glad to see 2020 in my rearview. That said, I’m just a little bit gun shy to suggest that 2021 will be our year. However, I am hopeful! As we see this year end, I thought I would share my reflections on how 2020 has changed our lives and how we live in our homes. Just as the Spanish flu gave us the powder room, which originated as a hand-washing basin immediately inside the front entry of a home, COVID-19 has influenced significant innovation in home design – and will continue to leave an imprint on how we live in our homes.
The immediate requests that we at Slater Interiors are hearing from our clients include: creating a home office and homework stations, larger mud rooms, more ‘away’ personal spaces, and outdoor spaces that can be utilized year-round.
Since its invention in the 1970s, experts have likely been predicting the death of the American open-floor plan. It certainly has its place and benefits, but in the world of COVID – with the whole family working and learning and living at home together – we are seeing a greater need for personal space. While I do not see open concept living disappearing completely, it has become clear that more personal and quiet space is needed.
One thing to think about when considering personal spaces is sound proofing areas. With everyone at home, more Zoom calls, more overlapping schedules, more chaos – sound proofing is essential. You can do this during the construction phase or after the fact by adding carpeting, area rugs, sound absorbing materials on the walls, window treatments, etc.
I have long preached that your home should function for the way you live every day, not how everyone on HGTV says you should live. This includes redesigning unused guest bedrooms or reallocating the formal living room or dining room into spaces that you will use frequently. And now, more than ever, I am advocating for creating homework stations for the kids. Do you have an unused room that you can tap into to create more personal spaces for your family?
Because guest rooms, especially now, aren’t being used efficiently, consider installing a murphy bed that folds up into the wall and when it’s up, the room can be used for working out, studying, or reading/meditating. Look at the www.zoom-room.com murphy bed!
A personal space doesn’t have to be a completely separate room. You can create semi-private spaces for family members within a room. Consider a reading nook like this one as a quiet spot for both adults and children to escape to, decompress or read.
Dining rooms are being used less frequently to entertain, while home offices are in greater demand. Below is a rendering of a dining room/workspace we designed for a home in Bothell in 2020. The couple was downsizing from a 4000 square foot home to an 1800 square foot rambler. The smaller home necessitated the creation of a double duty home office/dining room. The shelving units include file cabinets in the bases. We kept the shelving above for decoration and display so that the room felt more like a dining room than an office. The desk was selected because it can easily transition to a serving buffet for dinner parties.
In other cases, our clients already have a dedicated home office, but it’s just not meeting evolving demands – whether it’s being aesthetically appropriate for Zoom calls or providing adequate space for full-time work at home. Either way – we can take these new necessities into account and create home offices that fit the bill!
COVID-19 has made me so much more aware of the things I touch and the germs we could potentially bring into our homes. A mudroom is the ideal transition space from the dirt and suspicious materials of the outside to the safety and cleanliness of your home interior. A well-designed mudroom creates the ideal place to remove face masks and set down items that came into contact with germy surfaces.
Many traditional mud rooms are a place to drop off shoes, coats, and backpacks, but today clients want them to include a small washer/dryer where you can remove and wash your clothes immediately, as well as a sink for hand-washing, and even a small shower. Sanitary, safe spaces are paramount – so a fully functioning mudroom just makes sense. In the room below we combined a small powder and a laundry room into one and added a shower and storage for coats, shoes & backpacks.
Pre-pandemic, who in the Pacific Northwest thought that entertaining in the outdoors year-round would ever become a ‘thing’? I for one didn’t think it possible, but today – it’s totally en vogue! I’ve written an entire article about all of the different ways we might think about our outdoor areas. I’ll give you a quick recap, but if you want to know more, take a look here!
A few simple ideas to start entertaining outside this weekend include:
- Purchasing an outdoor fire pit or patio heaters
- Add a freestanding umbrella or tent to help keep the heat contained to a smaller area
- Add outdoor lighting by stringing lights or consider purchasing an outdoor floor or table lamp. Or a plastic ottoman that doubles as a light. Don’t forget way-finding lighting with lanterns and battery-operated candles, or solar lights (providing you don’t live in too much shade).
- Add a TV and sound system outdoors. Yes! They make TVs for the outdoors.
- Don’t forget the little luxury items: upholstered furniture, blankets/throws for your guests, hand warmers, and more importantly – hot toddies or hot chocolate!
Some additional ideas that require more planning and a larger investment include:
- Add on a new deck, or patio – this is all about location, location, location. Where do you get the best light but also the best protection from wind/rain?
- Add a pergola or awning over an existing deck
- Add a sunroom or screen in an existing porch
- Build a pre-fab out-building on your property – think he-shed, she-shed. This could be used for a separate office, gym/yoga room, etc.
The Take Away
While there is so much unknown, so much that we cannot control right now, our homes are a space that we do have control over – what we put in it, how we design it, and how it makes us feel. Our homes are integral to our quality of life, particularly now, when we are spending so much time indoors.
Who knows, 2020 just might have rekindled the saying “necessity is the mother of invention.” I hope that instead of looking back on 2020 and trying to erase it from our memory, we can reflect upon and embrace it as a year that changed our outlook – when we learned to look at the people in our lives, and in our homes, with newfound appreciation and love.
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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