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How will our present reality change the way we plan and view our homes?

Words by Vanessa Hale

Over the past few months, the coronavirus pandemic has transformed the patterns of daily life. However, while for many of us, the changes caused by social distancing and restrictions on movement happened seemingly overnight, it is becoming increasingly apparent that some of these lifestyle changes may not revert as immediately as they came in to being ­– and so we must adapt to a new state of normality.

Perhaps one of the most palpable shifts has been seen in the way we view our homes. Where we once designed them for comfort and security – a safe haven to which we could retreat at the end of a working day – our homes must now take on a plethora of other roles, providing space for work, education, fitness, social events and more besides.

So, as we look to the future, how can we expect our homes to adapt to embrace our evolving lifestyles?

Shifting motivations: what do we want from our homes?

Recent restrictions have impacted on every aspect of our daily lifestyle, from our shopping habits to our working routines, our children’s schooling to those we choose to live with.

That said, not all the changes necessitated by these restrictions have been negative. Indeed, for many of us, the global change in pace has instigated a shift in priorities, changing the way we think about our current and future living situations.

It’s with this in mind that we must consider how shifting attitudes to housing and co-habitation could result in something of an overhaul in the future housing market –not only impacting on our motivations for moving, but actively steering what it is we look for in potential homes.

Here’s how we predict five key groups might respond to the changing landscape:

  • Glomads: Also known as the rental generation, this group is identified by their hesitation to define one place as home, preferring instead to have the option of travelling, working remotely and keeping their possessions minimal.
  • Onesies: Pre-pandemic, 41% of UK households were made up of single individuals choosing to live alone.
  • Sundowners: 14.5 million people in the UK are over 65 – 20% of the population. Traditionally, this is the generation we see looking to downsize, releasing equity for the purposes of retirement. Co-housing arrangements during lockdown, including older family members welcoming younger generations home to isolate, may see this age group reconsidering the importance of the family home, holding onto their properties, or even encouraging co-habitation in the future.
  • Waltons: The multigenerational household, while far from idealised in a pre-lockdown society, could potentially prove a new route for Sundowners, who may now be more open to co-housing with younger generations of their family.
  • Rusticarians: Driven by environmental and technological factors, these diverse countryside dwellers are more open to less conventional housing and non-traditional locations.

As an already growing group of people who choose to live a global nomadic lifestyle, the Glomad population is expected to expand in the wake of Coronavirus, encouraged by a new-found willingness among businesses to offer remote working.

However, the long-term reality of isolation has the potential to cause huge changes among this demographic, with singletons taking up co-housing arrangements and embarking on new co-living situations.

The impacts of Covid-19 have sparked a renewed idealising of the rural lifestyle, with an increasing number of people looking to settle in community-led environments. Combined with a significant rise in homeworking, there is undoubtably huge potential for acceleration of the Rusticarian group as we move into a post-Covid world.

Embracing the new normal

Moving forward, it’s clear that for many of us, our everyday lifestyles have been irrevocably altered, and with that comes a new set of expectations of our homes.

Whether it is adapting our space to incorporate ongoing home-working, or permanently welcoming new members into the household, there are a number of ways the design and architecture of our homes might transform to accommodate our new lifestyles.

For larger, open-plan homes, broken-plan living is looking to become a growing interior trend – retaining the sense of depth and space created by open-plan design, while incorporating semi-divisions such as partial walls, kitchen islands, freestanding fireplaces or glass partitions. This establishes different settings within the home, so allowing households to co-exist in the same space whilst maintaining privacy.

In smaller homes, or for homes naturally divided into smaller spaces, multifunctional rooms offer an innovative approach to creating an adaptive living environment. By combining different purposes into a single floor plan, multifunctional rooms can make small spaces go further – kitchens with islands doubling as workstations, or guest bedrooms that can be transformed into gyms or offices as required. In a world where flexibility is becoming ever-more essential to functional living, multipurpose spaces can allow us to comfortably adapt to whatever changes might appear on the horizon.

It goes without saying, that integrated technology is set to become a permanent feature of our homes, which now more than ever must be well connected to the outside world. Already we’ve seen a number of schemes fast-tracked in accordance with our changing dependence on home living spaces. This includes a renewed push from broadband networks looking to provide nationwide access to fibre internet by the Government-pledged 2023 deadline, helping our homes become better connected for work and for living.

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