12 Rising Home Trends to Watch in 2020 and Beyond

Home and design industry professionals outline a range of ideas about how our homes will adapt as we settle into a new normal in the months and years ahead.

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June 24, 2020

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Staying Close to Home

From work-from-home spaces to play-at-home areas, the emergence of COVID-19 has had a profound effect on how we live at home and in our communities. Here are some of the life-at-home trends to watch for during the rest of 2020 and beyond.

1: Rethinking the Kitchen

With families spending more time together at home, the kitchen is even more in focus at the heart of it. New research from the National Kitchen & Bath Association reveals that 87 percent of families surveyed want a kitchen that functions in a variety of ways: for entertaining, school activities and working from home, along with meal preparation and family dining. Open kitchen layouts that provide more space and visibility, larger kitchen islands and upgraded appliances are emerging as design trends.

2: The Home Office Takes on New Meaning

WFH is the acronym of the moment, as working from home becomes the rule for many, rather than the exception. Forbes Magazine reported on a recent MIT survey of 25,000 American workers revealing that nearly half the U.S. workforce might be working remotely. As employees shift their workspaces from offices to their homes, interiors will incorporate quiet spaces that allow privacy for working away from the day-to-day activity of the household. WFH spaces require good lighting, more robust WiFi, and that all-important "Skype space" or "Zoom room" — a wall or nook in a quiet spot designed to provide a nice backdrop for video-conferencing, says interior designer Heather Kellow, chair of the Nashville chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers.

3: Smarter Technology

Realtors already see a rise in requests for "smart" features in homes, according to Chip Murphy, regional vice-president of Hunt Real Estate based in New York state. Technologies such as automatic and motion-sensor lighting and smartphone-controlled technology will become more common. Voice-activated control of appliances and use of touchless devices like shades, faucets and toilets will be even more widespread.

4: Enjoying More With Less

Simplified living is trending in homes across the country as individuals and families choose to live with less. Homeowners say decluttering is at the top of their to-do list, and a recent survey by the resale website Offer Up, published in Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine, revealed that two-thirds of respondents said they felt de-stressed after decluttering. Minimizing clutter, cleaning and targeted storage are critical design needs, particularly in kitchen and bath areas, according to the National Kitchen & Bath Association.

5: Planning for the Future

A recent AARP survey of adults reveals that three out of four adults age 50 and older want to stay in their homes and communities as they get older. Many also realize that may not be possible, but designers recommend design features to make it easier to age in place: wider doorways for wheelchair accessibility, no-barrier showers and tubs, easy-to-clean countertops, easy-to-reach storage, improved lighting, slip-resistant flooring. Smart technology and digital tools will allow people to stay connected and in their desired community.

6: Comfort in Shared Spaces

Individuals and families living in apartments and condominiums will see changes in shared spaces. Interior designer Stanley Sun, one of the founders of Mason Studio in Toronto tells Forbes Magazine that public spaces will be designed with visual cues to create social barriers, and planned in ways to allow individuals and groups to separate from each other.

7: At Home With Nature

Studies show that being close to nature reduces stress, and outdoor living areas can become personal oases for relaxation and retreat, and expanded space for entertaining. Landscape designs may feature more garden spaces and hardscape areas such as patios and decks. Amenities can include custom-designed walls and trellises, outdoor kitchens and specialty lighting. Outdoor audio systems can add a soothing layer of sound to a peaceful retreat, or be a lively addition to gatherings of family and friends.

8: Home as Sanctuary

As we incorporate more activities into the home, the need for a calm, relaxed environment also increases. Best practices for creating a calm home environment suggested by ECOS Paints include using neutral colors and open spaces to amplify natural light, choosing soft green, blue and pink shades to create a sense of the outdoors, and creating a cozy sanctuary by using soft indirect lighting.

9: The Great Indoors

As concerns about health move to the forefront, homeowners report they are proactively taking steps to improve their indoor environment. A recent Harris Poll survey of more than 2,000 adults indicates that more than two-thirds have taken or plan to take action to make their home environment healthier. Among the strategies: adding houseplants that help purify the air, changing air filters frequently, using eco-friendly paints, adding air purifiers and using chemical-free household products. The poll was conducted on behalf of ECOS Paints.

10: Fitness, Health and Wellness

Gyms, public parks and greenways will continue to be popular go-to fitness options, but dedicated space for at-home workouts and playtime will also become more important. "Workout and home-gym opportunities will be a big factor," says Gretchen Krebs, principal designer at Medium Plenty of Oakland, California, in a May 22, 2020 Architectural Digest article. "Utilizing any outdoor space or available indoor nooks will be vital."

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11: Remodeling and Repurposing

Designers are being asked to re-imagine existing spaces such as laundry rooms and bedrooms to increase efficiency and comfort, says interior designer Heather Kellow, ASID, who owns FOUR Spaces Design Studio in Brentwood, Tennessee. Homeowners are also asking for ways to allow rooms to function in multiple ways — a spare bedroom that is also a home office space, for example. Task areas line the perimeter of this multipurpose space that accomodates a utility sink and laundry closet, home office and craft table.

12: Gardening for Health

Companies that produce and sell garden seeds to home gardeners were overwhelmed in 2020 as more people began growing vegetables in backyard gardens, window boxes and containers on the patio. George Ball, executive chairman of the Burpee Seed Company based in Warminster, Pennslyvania, told NPR in March that he has seen seed orders rise during bad times, but has not seen a spike this large and widespread. The trend is likely to continue, experts say. The National Gardening Association reminds us that "Gardening also gets you out in the fresh air, adds positive energy into your life, and gives a new activity that the whole family can participate in."

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