How the Pandemic is Steering Interior Design
After months of staying at home during the pandemic, we’re re-discovering the simple joys of cooking with family and gathering safely in comfortable outdoor spaces. We’re working, playing, resting and entertaining in place—and as a result, re-evaluating how spaces function, what rooms work and what features would make living easier.
“People are spending more time at home, so making it comfortable and enjoyable during this unprecedented time is desirable,” acknowledges Maureen Isaac of Maureen Isaac Design in Solon.
For some, this means refreshing interior decor—fresh paint, updated upholstery, a new rug or furniture pieces. Others are reconfiguring living spaces to make room for dedicated offices and workout areas. Projects put on the backburner are moving front and center, such as finally renovating the kitchen or bath.
Isaac notices more urgency in homeowners’ requests to start and complete projects. “People are more focused,” she says, adding that virtual materials selection and video meetings is easing the process, making interior design safe and accessible.
Here are some trends interior designers are spotting amid Covid-19.
Reconfiguring Living Spaces
With many families shifting away from formal dining, choosing instead to gather in or around the kitchen, the dedicated space for hosting meals is less important. “People are reevaluating that and perhaps building out an office or place where their kids can study,” says Granex’s Shea Pacak.
Pacak shares how her family reimagined a closet that was a drop-spot for clutter, opening up the spot so it could house a beverage center stocked with teas, coffees and drinks suitable for all ages. “It’s in the main living space of our home and gives us the versatility to offer someone a glass of wine or coffee while we cook and enjoy time together,” Pacak says.
Working out at home is also a necessity for many clients, who want to create dedicated space for gym equipment. Pacak opted to refinish her basement with a spot for Zoom yoga and on-demand workouts, complete with a spa bathroom. Laurie Lindbloom of LZL Interiors in Shaker Heights shares how one of her clients decided to spruce up the spot where the basement furnace is located so workouts at home can be more pleasant. “They are not planning on going back to the gym anytime soon, so we are definitely seeing people finish out portions of their basement for this purpose,” she says.
Decked-Out Desk Spaces
While open floor plans are what most families desire, and great rooms that flow into expansive kitchen/dining areas are what homebuilders today deliver, some families are seeking more privacy to manage remote work and homeschool obligations. “The open floor plan we all wanted might not be the proper setup for people who want a private place to work with doors where they will not be interrupted,” Lindbloom points out.
Isaac also notes a demand for office and learning spaces. And Pacak says this can also mean selecting furniture and creating dedicated work/school zones within existing rooms, such as a nook of a child’s bedroom.
Everyone is home–which means more traffic, more wear and tear. Jane Marquardt of Maison Maison in Rocky River, says outdoor rugs are moving indoors. “They’re not just for the patio,” she says of the durable polypropylene material that is “virtually indestructible,” with some resembling persian rubs. “Durability has met beauty in a wonderful way,” she says.
The same is true for furniture textiles. Marquardt is fielding many upholstery requests and sees a marked demand for new sectionals and couches amid the Covid-19 pandemic. People are going for performance fabrics in gray, beige and white. “The advances in fabrics are massive,” she says, relating how she will spill ink or mustard on the surface to show clients how to effortlessly clean the toughest stains. “Leather is not as durable,” she adds.
Virtual Materials Selection
From furniture to paints and countertop surfaces, the ability to view, select and purchase materials online makes completing interior design projects possible during the pandemic. Pacak calls out Granex’s “visualizer” app that provides 3-D images of slabs along with pictures of all remnants in their inventory. “They can shop based on the color of stone, size or material such as marble, quartzite or quartz and take care of 98% of their shopping experience from home,” she says.
Lindbloom and others are conducting virtual consultations. “People trust us to help them select furniture and they are confident making purchases without seeing the products in person or sitting on a sofa,” she says.
In fact, the time people are spending at home allows flexibility for perusing interior design trends, materials and products online, Marquardt says. “And, while they are sitting they are realizing, ‘This sofa is so uncomfortable,’ or, ‘This never really worked,’” she relates.
Indeed, interior design demands are evolving as we live the new normal. Meanwhile, heading into fall and the upcoming winter, there is uncertainty about how the pandemic will play out–however, we know we’ll be home a lot more. And, as Lindbloom says, “We’re paying more close attention to our comfort and how we use our spaces.”