How the pandemic is changing home design

A lot has changed this year due to the pandemic, including how people are using their homes. COVID-19 quarantines and physical distancing protocols are forcing people to perform more of their daily tasks at home, causing homeowners to look at their spaces from a different perspective and altering them to fit what they need for work, school, fitness, and more. Rarely used spaces such as formal dining rooms, living rooms and mudrooms are getting makeovers to become study rooms, fitness areas, and modern home office workspaces.

Here in the Arlington, VA area, I’ve seen this happening throughout our community. Arlington is filled with people who find themselves in need of fully functioning office space able to meet the needs of their job without exposing them to the threats of the pandemic. In addition to working from home, there’s also remote school for the kids, adjustments for two-income families, and a need to address other lifestyle issues such as health, fitness and even just relaxing. The simple home office that was perfect a year ago isn’t up to the demands of two people working fulltime from home. And kids need much more than kitchen tables for schoolwork. Re-inventing spaces and creating hybrid solutions are a big part of the “new normal,” and is affecting home design in the following spaces:

Home Office / Workspace

Home offices are getting the lion’s share of attention these days, addressing things like proper seating, work surfaces, lighting, stable and secure internet connectivity, and more for a more robust office setting. Rather than working from the dining room or family room shared with kids, fully functioning home offices are being designed that can meet most demands of working from home.

Home Schooling

Using the kitchen table for homework just won’t cut it anymore. Kids need easy access to computers and smart devices, and the internet bandwidth to handle multiple users in addition to parents working from home. Keeping kids close is still one of the main requirements when planning for schoolwork space. Monitoring their progress and their internet usage, as well as being close at hand for assistance when needed means kids need to be near where mom or dad are hanging out too. Since the kitchen is still the central gathering point of most home, kitchen-adjacent areas such as corner cubbies, hallways, large closets and even dining rooms can become the perfect workspace.

If you’re looking for ideas and inspiration for your children’s remote schooling needs, check out this article: Creating Modern Homework Spaces that Kids Will Thrive In.

Guest House / Guest Suites

A separate guest suite or even guest house is seen in a new light as useful for when a single family member might need to isolate themselves in case of illness. Outfitting these areas with items for eating, food storage, and office space is essential for providing distance, privacy and livability for family or guests.

Outdoor Spaces

Designing alfresco areas are taking on renewed importance post-COVID-19. Homeowners are seeking to carve out their own private outdoor space on balconies, patios, and backyards, and many are hiring landscape experts to help them create fresh-air havens. Incorporating water, fire, light, and natural species are a few key elements, along with appropriate seating that can allow for distancing needs. Spaces can be designed for everything from work to relaxation and dining to recreation.

Health and Wellness

A home is often called a sanctuary, and during pandemics, this is never more true. Hygiene as a design need is becoming a big part of home design: antibacterial and antimicrobial surfaces, touchless faucets, and sanitation stations equipped with disinfectant wipes, disposable gloves, mask storage, and sinks for hand-washing at every entrance are all gaining in popularity. Mudrooms are being converted from makeshift spaces to fully equipped transition spaces for things like contactless delivery of packages, groceries, and meals as part of the transition as well.

Whether you’re looking for new ideas or a new home, if you live or work in the Arlington, VA area I am happy to be a resource for helping you find or create a home that fits all your post-pandemic needs. Reach out to me via email at, or call 703-593-6320.