How the Coronavirus Is Reshaping Home Design


Life as we know it has changed dramatically in the coronavirus era, affecting work, school, travel, and more. And it’s shed light on the way we live at home, underscoring the fact that there’s nothing more important than safe shelter for our family.

To that end, COVID-19 is influencing what people want to see in home design.

“After the pandemic, our homes are going to reflect the lessons learned during this painful period, such as ways to disinfect ourselves and our possessions,” says Jamie Gold, a wellness design consultant and author of “Wellness by Design.”

In a postvirus world, we won’t soon forget our shelter-at-home memories. Going forward, if there’s even the slightest chance (god forbid) that we’ll need to repeat this awful practice, homeowners may want to prepare by buying or renovating a house with amenities that’ll make it just a bit more bearable.

To help, here are 10 features to look for in a new home—or demand in your current one—once we’ve bid the coronavirus adieu.

1. More bathrooms


Photo by Excel Builders 

A family member who’s caught a virus needs his own loo to keep germs in one place, so the addition of a second (or third or fourth) bathroom in homes will be important.

“This option used to be about convenience, but in the age of quarantines, sharing a bathroom could be dangerous,” says David Sipp, owner of two Mr.Handyman franchises in Indiana.

And since hand-washing is a constant nowadays, a half-bathroom or even just a sink right by a home’s entrance may become fairly standard.

“There’s renewed focus on [sinks near front entrances] in an attempt to get people to wash before entering the home,” says architect Kobi Karp of the eponymous firm.

2. Better mudrooms


Photo by Michael Robert Construction 

Taking off your shoes before entering the house has long been recommended to cut back on grime and germs. But now that a recent study found that the novel coronavirus can cling to shoes’ soles and then get tracked inside, even more people may start removing their shoes right as they enter a house. This could make the presence of mudrooms—including larger, souped-up versions with seating areas and cubbies—more appealing than ever.

3. Bigger pantries


Photo by Closet Factory

You probably weren’t alone if you found your food storage was lacking in the early days of the coronavirus—and the fix will be bigger and better panties. Room for nonperishables is key so you can cut back on the number of grocery store trips you make.

No room for a dedicated pantry? Sipp anticipates a need for more food storage like shelving and cabinets in other parts of the home, like the garage and basement.

“And larger pantries won’t necessarily live in the kitchen area, but will instead be more of an add-on in the laundry room or entryway,” says Gold. The reason: Deliveries can be made contact-free, away from living areas, and trips into the house will be reduced.

4. More freezer space


Photo by Perlick 

Remember the old-fashioned chest freezer your grandmother had? Look for it again, along with more built-in freezer drawers, in future home design. Panicky pandemic shoppers are snapping up all manner of foods, and the result has been a sold-out stock of freezer units.

5. Bathroom bidets


Photo by Murphy’s Design 

The French know a thing or two about healthy bathroom design—and we’re finally taking notice. Bidet use was already on the rise before the coronavirus, and since toilet paper shortages have hit hard, more and more folks are looking to install this amenity.

Bidets are gentle and hygienic, and even when TP is back on store shelves, these devices will still be in demand, says Gold.

Want something cheaper than installing a whole new appliance? Consider the washlet, which is a seat fitted to an existing toilet that’s equipped with a spray nozzle.

“There’s less need for tissue with a washlet,” says Melanie Turner, an architect at Perkins & Will.

6. Closed-off spaces


Photo by Houzz

“COVID-19 has brought to light a heightened desire for discrete areas, no matter how small, and convertible spaces like guest rooms that can be used for playtime or as a homework spot,” says Turner. But open floor plans probably won’t disappear—instead, a better balance between private, semiprivate, and public spaces is coming.

“The reason is the need for homes to multitask better, which means if you have two partners suddenly working from home and a couple of kids home schooling, you’ll have more quiet, separate spaces for everyone to function effectively,” says Gold.

7. Brass and copper fixtures


Photo by AFT Construction 

Adapting to a new, more germ-conscious way of living starts with a return to copper and brass (a copper-zinc combo) for doorknobs and fixtures. In fact, brass kills bacteria more effectively than stainless steel, according to research.

Brass and copper are excellent metals for the home because both are naturally antimicrobial and corrosion-resistant.

“Copper is one of the best for its antimicrobial properties and has been used for decades in plumbing—and brass and bronze are also very popular because of their inherent ability to kill germs, plus over time they give a desirable rustic look,” said Karp.

8. Hands-free light switches, faucets, and more


Photo by Broedell Plumbing Supply, Inc. 

“We already have hands-free faucets, light switches, and voice-control features to operate windows, showers, thermostats, and sound systems. Plus there’s a hands-free door opener that’s being introduced for homes,” points out Gold, who anticipates seeing them in homes now more than ever.

“We’ve had touchless entry and infrared detection systems in place for years in hotels, so I expect to see these technologies applied for opening home cabinets, fridges, and drawers in the near future,” adds Karp.

9. Closed HVAC systems


Photo by Global Source Lighting/San Ramon Lighting

For people with allergies, asthma, or other respiratory issues, more sophisticated HVAC systems, including those that can be closed from the outside world for limited amounts of time, might become more common.

“We have to weigh the benefits of fresh air with the desire to temper or limit intake at very specific times,” says Turner.

10. Nicer home offices


Photo by Mast & Co. Builders 

This one’s obvious, and it runs the gamut from a fully equipped workspace in a separate room to smaller iterations like nooks under the stairs or a retrofitted closet.

Having a quiet area in which to work will be a must-have, and if you can include the ability to work while standing up or moving, your wellness will be enhanced, says Gold.

“As people video chat and Zoom more with colleagues from home, they’re becoming hyperaware of the changes they’d like to see in a home office, including better lighting and more storage. And since a return to the workplace will be gradual, high demand will continue for an office that’s comfortable and functional,” says Sipp.



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A Sneak Peek at Chip and Jo’s New Spring Line at Target


Ready to hit the reset button with your home decor? Spring is practically upon us—and with it comes a new collection of fresh home looks from the Target line Hearth & Hand with Magnolia by Chip and Joanna Gaines.

This batch of spring designs from the stars of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” show officially drops on Sunday in stores, but photos of the goods are already up online in case you’re jonesing for a preview. You’ll spy ultra-affordable finds among the 300 new items, which include bedding, furniture, garden items, lighting, throw pillows, and much more.

“These products are traditional, on point, and somewhat nostalgic in style. Plus, they’re mostly neutral, which means they’ll fit into any home’s interior and offer timeless appeal and texture—definitely farmhouse in flavor,” says Ana Cummings of the eponymous design firm.

For some help sifting through the latest in the collection, here are 10 picks to get you started. Shop for Mother’s Day, Easter, or just yourself as your reward for surviving a long winter!

1. Accent chair

Gentle lines and a soft seat make this an ideal accent chair.
Gentle lines and a soft seat make this an ideal accent chair.

Target

Caned furniture is making a strong comeback, with several lines showing this woven detail in bar cabinets, headboards, and other pieces.

Amy Bly of Great Impressions Home Staging and Interiors recommends this wood-and-cane chair for its texture and simple style. The mesh back lends an airy feel, but the construction is solid thanks to a sturdy frame ($200).

2. Cereal bowls

Rustic stoneware that's safe in the dishwasher and microwave.
Rustic stoneware that’s safe in the dishwasher and microwave.

Target

Face it—your morning oatmeal could use an upgrade, and this well-priced, four-piece set of two-toned bowls is just the place to start. It comes in two other pretty shades of blue and could hold side salads or ice cream sundaes, too ($16 for the set).

3. Wheeled cart

Slide this smart pick into any room that needs a lift.
Slide this smart pick into any room that needs a lift.

Target

Is it a bar cart? A rolling buffet? Or a makeshift kitchen island? This multipurpose, powder-coated steel cart is all three and more. You’ll have to assemble it, but once it’s built you’ll find that the two shelves and side racks are endlessly utile ($140).

4. Wastebasket

This pick comes with a plastic liner for easy cleaning.
This pick comes with a plastic liner for easy cleaning.

Target

Sea grass is a natural fiber that’ll add texture to a half-bath, bedroom, or den. Its durable substance is often seen in floor coverings, but smaller accents like a wastebasket, coaster, or tabletop chargers are another way to try this woven detail ($20).

5. Dining bench

Sloping curves and simple construction are the hallmarks of Shaker furniture.
Sloping curves and simple construction are the hallmarks of Shaker furniture.

Target

Chair, chair, chair around your dining table is a rather snoozy look. Instead, break up this row of soldiers with a Shaker-inspired dining bench. This perch is perfect for two people and can be cozied up by adding a couple of throw pillows on the back ($200).

6. Throw pillow

Blue and white lend a fresh, clean look to your sofa or chair.
Blue and white lend a fresh, clean look to your sofa or chair.

Target

Swapping out throws and accent pillows on your couch or bed is an easy, affordable way to mark a new season. This spring, try this juxtaposition of plain stripes and jaunty gold tassels ($25).

7. End table

This pick sports a caned lower shelf for extra storage by your bed or chair.
This pick sports a caned lower shelf for extra storage by your bed or chair.

Target

You can’t have too many side tables in the home, and ones made from lighter-toned woods are a nice alternative to darker shades when the weather warms up.

This slender accent table fits nicely at the end of a settee or in a reading nook to hold your coffee and bookmark ($100).

8. Shower curtain

This pretty fabric has been verified as free from hundreds of harmful substances.
This pretty fabric has been verified as free from hundreds of harmful substances.

Target

A shower curtain is one of several items that need swapping out regularly, especially when it becomes worn and musty (see also: bathmats and hand towels). This one’s not only made from stylish soft material, it’s also gently priced and it sports fun fringe along the edge ($25).

9. Faux lavender

Greenery is easy to achieve with faux plants.
Greenery is easy to achieve with faux plants.

Target

This isn’t your granny’s fake ivy! Bringing nature into the home is hotter than ever, and the faux green choices on the market are expanding all the time.

Try this lavender pot with several others in a line on your kitchen windowsill or in a glass terrarium for a look that’ll never die ($5).

10. Area rug

A classic neutral in wool and cotton to warm your room
A classic neutral in wool and cotton to warm your room

Target

This piece is everything you’re looking for in a low-key rug, including a flat pile and fringe for a bit of visual interest. Bonus: It comes in two heathered hues, oatmeal and gray ($25 and up).



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Kim Kardashian and Kanye West Bought Land in La Quinta: Here’s Why


Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West already own a massive house in Hidden Hills, CA, but apparently that’s not enough space. Witness their most recent acquisition: an undeveloped 2-acre plot for $6.3 million in La Quinta, CA.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the plot was quietly purchased at the end of last year through a trust, and the seller is a corporation with ties to billionaire businessman Ronald Burkle.

The Kardashian-West parcel is located in the Madison Club, an exclusive golf and tennis community in La Quinta, which is a two-hour drive (or, in Kardashian-West terms, a short private plane ride) from Los Angeles.

Why Kim and Kanye purchased property in La Quinta

So has this A-list couple just discovered the joys of hitting the links? Odds are, La Quinta attracted Kimye for far different reasons. For one, the Madison Club isn’t just any old golf club, but one with an exclusive clientele, counting Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber among its members.

Best known as a winter playground for the rich and famous, “this spot is also close to Coachella, SoCal’s largest music festival grounds, so you can expect Kanye to headline there for a few years simply out of convenience,” says Tyler Drew, CEO of Anubis Properties in Los Angeles.

The couple’s latest land grab is also conveniently located close to family, as Kardashian West’s mom, Kris Jenner, has her own mansion on the same street. Little sister Kylie Jenner also owns a piece of property nearby.

“This seems like a very strategic move from the Kardashian-West clan, as creating a family land bank is something wealthy families have been doing for decades,” says Odest T. Riley Jr., CEO of WLM Financial, a real estate brokerage firm in Inglewood, CA.

And compared with Los Angeles, La Quinta is a bargain, with acres of wide-open desert for the taking.

“You get so much more for your money here—there’s no way Kim and Kanye could have picked up 2 acres for this price in the vicinity of L.A., and even if you could find it, you’d have to tear something down,” says Cara Ameer, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker in Los Angeles.

Another perk of La Quinta’s remote location is fewer hassles when it comes to construction.

“Building something rather large in the desert doesn’t come with as much red tape as it does closer to L.A.,” adds Drew.

With an empty lot, Kimye can put their personal imprint on a mansion that’ll suit the needs of their growing family.

“I could see them building an all-encompassing compound where they wouldn’t have to stray too far for what they need, including a huge pool and grotto, guesthouse, and a private spa or massage rooms so people can come to them,” says Ameer.

So would this mean they’d just kick back at home, or might they also socialize with their neighbors at the Madison Club?

“I doubt they’ll sit by the pool,” says Ameer, “but I’m sure the Madison Club is extending facility privileges to all of the Kardashians, and I could imagine them plugging into the health and wellness aspects of this club as well as hiking and biking on their trails to relax.”

The Kardashian effect on La Quinta

While this growing swell of “KarJenner” sisters (and the attendant paparazzi) could leave the neighbors tearing their hair out, there’s an upside as well.

“The Kardashians buying in the Madison Club and specifically La Quinta is good for property values and raises the prestige factor overall,” says Ameer.

“This purchase could benefit the club by highlighting how exclusive the brand is—and from a business perspective, all free publicity is good publicity,” adds Riley.

Potential downsides to an investment like this one could include resale issues—and even the baking sun.

“Living in the desert isn’t a year-round thing to do, as the temperatures really start to soar from April through the fall, so there’s a short window of comfortable weather in which to enjoy this property,” says Ameer. “This spot swells with crowds in the winter months and has a lot of properties that are second homes or rentals, so there aren’t many year-round residents. Though this probably suits the Kardashian-Wests, as they’re on the move more than anyone else.”



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