Homes: Celebrating post-COVID-19 home trends

Homes: Celebrating post-COVID-19 home trends
Investing in outdoor spaces is worthwhile, even after the pandemic. Outdoor entertaining, whether it is a neighborhood happy hour or Fourth of July extravaganza, is not going anywhere. (Caspari)

By Leah Donahue

As we remove the masks and cautiously tiptoe into a semblance of new normalcy, the whole nation is wondering what exactly the future holds.

People are going back to offices, but likely not 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Kids are back to busy sports and school schedules, though still socially distanced. Travel and entertainment are slowly returning. And while we don’t know what the future will look like, one thing is for sure: The pandemic will have a lasting impact on how we view and use our homes.

Just over a year ago, we were confined at home. As we spent anxious days and nights hoping and praying for the health of our families and loved ones, in many ways our home became our only true sanctuary. By spending oodles of time in our family rooms, on our patios and talking to neighbors and friends from afar, we rediscovered the importance of design in our spaces. In short, the open concept office no longer fits the bill. Rooms with one note of neutral without happy colors didn’t serve us as well as they might have years ago.

Despite all the anxiety and paralysis of the last year, here are four trends that will last well beyond 2021.

First, people have come to appreciate, and will continue to appreciate, the joys of outdoor entertaining. Porches, patios and pools all became more crucial than ever before as we gathered in small groups outside.

It’s safe to say that we will continue to see an investment in making our outdoor spaces ready for a neighborhood happy hour or last-minute playdate. Elements such as lighting, comfortable seating and family-friendly serving ware will remain critical, especially in the coming months when social distancing is likely to still be present in our lives.

Second, DIY is here to stay – and that’s a good thing. Last year was a record breaker for home improvement spending: According to Harvard University researchers, Americans spent nearly $420 billion on home projects, much of them doit-yourself.

When it’s so easy to get sucked into your phone or computer, and it seems like the to-do list is endless, a hands-on project that you can start and actually finish is akin to real therapy. Everything is fair game from painting Aunt Betsy’s old dresser to reimagining the Ikea bookshelf. Fortunately, it’s become easier than ever before. For example, sales of chalk paint(R) in the U.S. skyrocketed during the shutdown. And TikTok is building a whole new community of inspirational creators online.

Third, what’s old is new again. Chinoiserie, toile, chintz, ruffles, embroidery. Some may call it grandmotherly, but there’s a new term for this design trend and it’s grandmillennial.

Blogger Caitlin Higgins from Style by Emily Henderson calls this trend “the bold antique revival” and “if Marie Antoinette lived in 2021.” Here you will see a movement away from bland neutrals and minimalism and toward elements like intricate wallpapers, grandiose fabrics, mixed patterns and bold colors. It’s a style steeped in tradition with a real emphasis on playful entertaining, which makes sense for today’s world.

Last but not least, we need doors that close. I think you’ll see a strong inclination to move away from the open concept and toward homes that have multiple nooks and crannies for privacy. Many families had to reimagine the home to accommodate two working adults plus a classroom. And now that we know the capacity of our homes, I doubt we will let go of those extra, essential spaces.

The impact of COVID-19 will be with us for a generation or perhaps even longer. Millions of people have experienced the effects of this horrific virus firsthand. But with every hardship comes reasons for optimism, which are presently seen in the countless stories of families brought closer, local businesses supported and a collective sense of working together to achieve the insurmountable.

In so many ways, our homes have become better representations of ourselves.

The writer is co-owner of Old Town home décor and design store Boxwood.