It may seem counterintuitive that interest and activity in home projects is soaring when millions of Americans have lost their jobs, are waiting in food lines and can’t be certain that they won’t be thrown out of work in a possible second Covid wave this fall. Retail, hospitality and travel have certainly seen those impacts on their bottom lines this year.
What appears to be the case is that with so many of us spending so much more time at home than in past summers, our unplanned residential stress test has shown their shortcomings and we’re looking at ways to make our living spaces serve us better.
Houzz, the massive home design and renovation platform, reports that project leads for home professionals in its latest analysis jumped by nearly 60% compared to last year, particularly those specializing in outdoor spaces. This makes perfect sense: While hosting parties in our great rooms isn’t a great idea right now, making the most of our outdoor spaces with our family members definitely is, and so is making other areas of our homes more functional for new pandemic-driven demands. These were some of the top trends in the latest Houzz report:
- Swimming pool design and installation projects more than quadrupled (up 334%).
- Deck, patio and porch project inquiries nearly tripled (up 178%).
- Home extensions and additions grew by 52%.
- Fence installation and repairs were up 166%.
These all have a wellness design component. For example, if your gym closed, then reopened, then closed again, you could very well be looking for a more consistent solution for your daily swim right about now; those ‘quarantine 15’ pounds aren’t going to shed themselves.
Since this latest Houzz report looks at contractor inquiries, rather than trends related to the spaces themselves, here are some glances at what’s going on in each of these areas, generating these calls to home improvement pros. You’ll see a wellness design component in each of them.
Deck, Patio and Porch Trends
America’s great urban parks were designed and built for city dwellers to enjoy fresh air and nature, and they remain popular to this day. For those fortunate enough to have their own slice of nature at home, whether in the city, suburbs or country, there are numerous ways to enhance them. Here are some hot trends
- Edibles – People are looking to eat healthier and are blending vegetables, fruit trees, herbs and other greens into their outdoor living spaces. This ties into the victory gardens resurgence, and helps explain the increase in inquiries to outdoor pros. If you’re building a deck, you might be looking at adding planters or a green wall to it.
- Urban farming — Also related to this trend, according to the popular home channel publication is an increasing interest in chickens and bee-keeping.
- Water features – These are popular across all budgets, and are often built into updated outdoor spaces. They tie into the biophilia trend, as well, and have calming benefits for PTSD sufferers and others.
Home Extension Trends
It’s not surprising that with our houses needing to stand in for our gyms and offices, and potentially quarantining a family member away from the household, that we’re looking at ways to expand them.
Dan DiClerico, home expert for home improvement platform HomeAdvisor, notes these trends among homeowners:
- Master suite additions — Many are choosing to make room for a home office, given the COVID work-from-home realities. These offices have more elevated designs than in the past, since they serve as a staging ground for Zoom calls and other public virtual interactions.
- Family room additions also continue to be popular, [with] a real emphasis on multi-functionality. They’re still meant for watching TV and gathering with the family. But if there are young children at home, one corner of the room might be devoted to homeschooling, with a desk, shelving, craft supplies, and the like. Another area of the room might function as the home gym, including a platform for the Peloton bike or treadmill.
- Mud/utility room – This speaks to the increased demand for storage and organization now that we’re spending so much time at home. Often the laundry appliances will be located there. Some of the utility centers even incorporate some kind of package receiving station, such as a pass-through that delivery persons can use to safely deposit packages inside the home.
If you’re going to be spending more time in your personal outdoor space, privacy becomes more of a priority. This is especially true if you’re exercising or conducting business outside. Outdoor Essentials, a products and information resource for homeowners, shares these fencing trends:
- Dark colors – These are designed to blend in with more naturalistic settings and provide a low maintenance background.
- Panels and screens – homeowners are looking at new ways to give themselves privacy, the site says. These can include louvers, living walls, trellises, louver and connecting privacy screens.
- Multi-functional – Fences are doing double duty as handsome backdrops for outdoor living rooms. They can include built-in planters and lighting, as well as style integrated with the space’s overall décor.