What trends have emerged as a result of more time spent at home? What’s here to stay? 

     In early 2020, when most of the country was under some sort of shelter in place order, a group of researchers and community developers conducted the America at Home Study. They wanted to know, with so much time at home, has it changed the way people think about their homes? Has it changed how they are using them, and what improvements would they most like to see and be willing to invest in? Insight was gathered from over 4,000 participants across the United States in April and a follow up done in October. When asked what home means to them, 91% responded, “a safe place”. Other results of the surveys indicate home owners are looking for more storage, home gyms and office space. 

     Overall the results indicate, the pandemic has left many of us rethinking the definition of what “home” means and how we want to interact with and use the space within our home. With families spending so much more time at home, working from home, school, working out, movie night in, and Zoom meeting everything, people are looking to create homes to reflect these changing needs. Here are some of the observations we have made at PortSide Builders over the last year.

High demand for housing –

     You may have heard on the news that housing has been a bright spot for the economy throughout 2020. According to Builder Magazine, both single-family starts and sales in the U.S. reached highs not seen in over a decade.  Here at PortSide, we can confirm that the demand for both new construction and remodeling have been very high. This is driven by a couple of factors, such as low interest rates, a desire to move from urban areas to less densely populated areas, and families need for increased flexibility in the home. For those unable to find an existing home that meets their needs, they are turning to the idea of building new. Zach Juadis, Custom Designer in our Fox Cities office explains, “With the rising cost and limited resale home supply, home buyers are more willing to put their money into building a custom home to get exactly what they want.” According to Juadis, this trend may continue well into 2021, “With the continued supply shortage and the historically low interest rates, now is a great time to consider a custom-built home.”

     As some version of telecommuting will likely be a long-term option for some employees, the need to live close to the office has become less critical, allowing people greater freedom on where they choose to live.

More space and flexible spaces - 

Modern floor plan with mud room & laundry room with custom storage and separate office space away from main living area.

     With more time spent at home in a variety of roles, the need for more flexible space has increased. With parents working remotely and the kids attending school online, everyone gathering around the kitchen table or island just doesn’t work. That doesn’t necessarily mean the open floor plan will be going away anytime soon, but families are looking to incorporate more defined spaces for specific use, such as a home office or designated working space. Sometimes this may be as straightforward as adding more electrical outlets to a room to allow people the flexibility to make workspaces wherever needed. 

Remodeling projects are on the rise, as homeowners are converting seldom used spaces such as formal dining rooms or living rooms into office space. We are also seeing more requests for finishing basements and turning them into multi-functional spaces such as a theater/exercise/rec room.

Desire for clean, organized and healthy spaces – 

    While the home organization industry has been growing for years, more time spent at home has forced many of us to rethink areas of our home that are just not serving us well or have been neglected for too long. Overall there is a strong desire to clear the clutter and make the home feel clean and organized for a better quality of life, and to help bring a greater sense of wellness into our homes. We are seeing this in home plans where laundry rooms and mudrooms with smart storage solutions are absolute must-haves. In addition to having an organized place to leave street shoes and outerwear prior to entering the main portion of the house, mudrooms can also serve as a safe drop zone for package deliveries where they can be unpacked and sanitized before they are brought into the home. 

     More cooking in the home means increased need for food storage. Once reserved for larger kitchens only, walk-in pantries and pantry closets are now being requested in medium and smaller-sized kitchens. And custom-built kitchen storage solutions, such as pull-out/swing-out cabinet shelves, cookie tray dividers, pullout spice racks, dish drawers, and waste/recycling drawers, etc. are becoming the standard in kitchen storage and help ensure time spent in the kitchen is stress-free and efficient. 

     It’s also all about easy to clean surfaces like quartz or solid-stone countertops and copper, brass and bronze fixtures, which, in addition to being timeless and beautiful, are naturally antimicrobial. These metals are showing up in door knobs, handles, faucets and other high-touch areas. There is also increased interest in hands-free and touchless features. 

Improved outdoor space -

     Access to outdoor space and natural light in the home becomes an even greater priority. While this has been a top request in new home design and in remodels for many years, it continues to be one of the most desired features. In terms of new home construction, a good majority of floor plans include large windows and a sunroom for optimal light flow. Sunrooms can serve as a relaxing, cozy retreat to enjoy year-round. 

Pergola over outdoor dining space.

Homeowners are also making efforts to improve their outdoor space. They are repairing and expanding decks, adding patios and pergolas, and adding amenities that make spending time in the backyard more enjoyable, such as outdoor kitchens, fireplaces and fire pits, water features, and of course gardens. They are also including easier ways to access these outdoor spaces such as installing sliding glass doors from a kitchen to a deck or patio. 

Home finishes and changes in interiors –

Rift cut oak cabinets with dark stain in kitchen and lighter stain in living room.

If you subscribe to our Home Plan of the Month or Remodel of the Month then you have noticed the majority of kitchens and custom cabinets we have done over the past several years have featured a lot of neutrals, whites and greys. This has been all over Pinterest and Houzz as well. White cabinets will always be a timeless classic, but we are now starting to see more variety in wood tones and color palettes. A recent Remodel of the Month featured flat panel, rift cut oak cabinets with a dark stain in the kitchen and the same style of cabinet in the living room but with a medium stain, the result is stunning. We are also seeing kitchen islands in accent colors such as blues or greens or natural wood tones.

Overall there seems to be a shift in how people are thinking about their home design and are choosing things that reflect their individual style and what makes them feel happy right now versus thinking purely of future resale. 

While it may be a bit too early to predict what lasting trends a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic may have on home design, one things is clear, homeowners have had time to reconsider what home means to them. From early indications, expectations are higher and people need more out of their home than ever before. Here at PortSide Builders, with over 40 years of knowledge and passion for home construction, we understand that the key to a successful home design or remodeling project is effective communication. Regardless what may be influencing your home design needs, we will take the time to listen to you, understand your specific needs and vision, and will build a custom home that is perfect for you.

Learn More About Our Custom Home Building Process Here.