Our worlds have been turned upside down in the last few months, giving us time to re-evaluate many things, including how we choose to lead our lives and the surroundings in which we lead them.
Design trends have always been important but with most of us spending increasing amounts of time at home, the desire to create our ideal environment is more important than ever, combining functionality, wellbeing, aesthetic value and style.
Since the pandemic began, people have been unavoidably spending more time together at home, and this has led them to reconsider the layouts of their surroundings. This may involve expanding open-plan spaces to provide more communal space or coming up with creative solutions to provide some privacy for the family or office space too.
Here we look at some of the current design trends in different living spaces and how the recent pandemic has affected them.
Open-plan spaces have been on trend for many years now, but now that families are spending more time together, this part of the home has been the focus of renewed space management. Finding more space may require structural solution but it is also possible to redesign existing spaces to cater better for the new style of family life.
Dining rooms are often forgotten, left for ‘special’ occasions while most of the hurried family catering takes place in the kitchen or on the move as various members head out the door. But mealtimes don’t have to be rushed anymore, and dining rooms present a fresh venue in which to eat daily meals together.
People are giving dining rooms a more sophisticated feel, adding touches that might have the warmth and cosiness of a favourite restaurant. Colours are easy to change and lighting and décor can make a big difference to the feel and appeal of a room.
Buying in bulk and stocking up has enhanced the importance of efficient food storage, so this is the perfect opportunity to re-think the use of cupboards, repurpose useful spaces that may currently be used for storage and even think creative and make new storage areas in unused corners, behind or on top of furnishings.
If you’re lucky enough to have a larder or pantry, these rooms can prove surprisingly useful and hold untold extra space if looked at anew – perhaps that cupboard under the stairs can be repurposed, or the utility room might have previously unseen potential. Fitting in new shelves or an extra fridge or freezer can also expand storage capacity.
Small changes can make a big difference, whatever the size of your home. Adding a flip-down table in the corner of a kitchen or by a window can give you an alternative space to work, eat or connect with the outside world.
With anxiety levels rising, a relaxing calm place to rest and sleep is vital. Whether it be using warm materials such as wood, exposed brick, beautiful tiled floors or indoor plants, a connection to nature and a respect for the environment helps to create the oasis of peace and tranquility that we all need at the moment.
The current trend of canopy beds offers a sense of luxury whilst also providing a comfortable and serene place to switch off from the worries of the world. These beds can look fantastic in any style of bedroom – majestic posts may suit a large room whereas contemporary metal frames can create an interesting centre-piece in a small room without cluttering it up.
Upholstered headboards are another simple way of adding opulence and charm to the bedroom.
With almost all of us finding ourselves suddenly having to work from home, a small desk in the corner of the living area used during quiet days at home is unlikely to serve the same purpose when the house is full of people.
It is important to have a space separate from the rest of the house, not only to ensure productivity but also to have that clear divide between working hours and ‘at home’ hours. However, if this is not possible then there are creative ways of making almost any area into a functional and productive workspace, be it under the stairs, in a guest bedroom, using a floating shelf or even a leaning ladder.
A standing, moveable workstation is another way of providing both a flexible solution as well as a healthier option, as much research has proven. Efficient storage, good lighting and comfort are all key. Another important factor is creating a space suitable for video calls, both aesthetically and in terms of soundproofing if necessary.
Many of us have been forced to exercise at home, with previously unused spaces such as basements being converted into home gyms. Garages hold excellent potential for repurposing, and if you have the option to park outside then you can liberate an entirely new space with untold opportunities to add fitness or games equipment, create a home office or TV room (or both) and revolutionise your storage too.
The recent quarantine has put outside spaces of all sizes at the top of the property wish list, from gardens to terraces, patios and even balconies. Once forgotten exterior areas have been discovered or rediscovered, and turned into oases of fresh air and freedom.
If you only have a small garden or even no garden at all then there are other ways of incorporating green areas into your life, thereby reducing your stress as well as improving the air quality around you. Vertical gardens or plant walls can bring the outside inside, providing you with the next best thing without all the hassle and maintenance.
Growing your own vegetables is an increasing trend, and this is not only for those with outdoor space either – indoor areas, cleverly equipped with artificial light, air and water, can provide you with all the vegetables of a large kitchen garden.
No one has been able to avoid the current need for hygiene and sanitisation, which brings new trends to home design such as air purifiers, water filtration systems, indoor air quality monitors, germ-resistant materials for floors and surfaces, auto-cleaning technologies integrated within kitchen cabinets and wardrobes and even ultraviolet lamps that are known to kill bacteria.
Smart toilets could also become a common feature in our homes, with automatic cleaning systems ensuring as little contact with potentially germ-ridden surfaces.
Another consequence of the need for hygiene will be the incorporation of smart technologies, including voice control systems, intelligent appliances and voice recognition, thereby avoiding the need to touch surfaces, handles and buttons.
Classic blue has been a key colour so far this year, but earth tones are now taking over as we approach autumn with warm browns, burnt orange, yellow ochre, olive green and soft grey providing warmth and a calm atmosphere as well as an aesthetic connection to the natural world.
Curves are back in, with a 60s and 70s vibe built into undulating furnishings and finishes, in particular seating with curves, designed to inspire conversation and connection. Freestyle and organic designs are in, in a bid to make us feel calmer and more in sync with waves, circles and other soft and natural forms. Velvet is also de rigeur, combining comfort and style, particularly if bold colours are your thing.
Bold floral wallpapers can show your personality and enhance that sense of connection to the natural world. Floral walls with familiar or abstract designs look great in bathrooms and entrance areas.
Carefully blended metals are also very on trend, and gold, silver, tin, copper, brass, stainless steel and cast iron can look fabulous when used in the right way.
Natural materials such as wood and stone also appeal to our sense of the outdoors, with rattan, whicker and jute adding a natural tactility to furnishings.
While the traditional style cues will continue to affect the way our homes look and change to suit emerging and changing tastes as they always have, we are living in truly unprecedented times. With this in mind, the key design trend for 2020 and beyond is really making the most of what you have, thinking creatively to match fast-moving and changing needs and creating connections to nature that help to maximise wellbeing in challenging circumstances.
The use of natural light, water features and plants and images of nature and the outside world can serve to ignite connections that help us to relax and deal with stress.
Watch out for ‘Biophilic’, an increasingly familiar catchword that covers the trend of incorporating natural materials, light and greenery into our environments.
Design has always served to make us feel better, but now it can make a proven difference to our health. Into 2020-2021 and beyond, the way we choose to embrace change in our homes is going to be more important than ever.