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After a year of spending more time at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many homeowners are looking for ways to make their homes fit their new realities. Open floor plans are out; dedicated spaces for remote work and learning are in. Yards are being transformed into entertainment spaces and walls are being repainted. At the same time, increased demand and safety concerns can make the remodeling process much longer than before.
Here are five trends to watch for this 2021 home-remodeling season.
1. A focus on dedicated spaces
At the start of 2020, "the most requested design concept was open space,” says Jimmy Dollman, principal of Dollman Construction in Roanoke, Virginia. “But now, we face a different set of design implications because everyone’s living conditions have changed.”
Dollman notes that remote workers and learners need privacy and quiet. “A year ago, it was rare for one family member to work from home,” he says. “Now, [parents] and kids find it difficult to get work done because of the noise in the open design.”
This year, expect to see homeowners spending less time knocking down walls to open up shared areas, and more time transforming spare rooms or nooks into dedicated spaces. That might mean adding a home office or home theater, for instance, or transforming a nook into a space for distance-learning.
2. Making room for home offices
To add home offices to residences, “homeowners aren’t adding square footage,” says Doug King, owner of King Contracting, a design-build firm in St. Petersburg, Florida, and president of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. “Rather, they’re taking out rarely used closets, like in the hallway, and moving interior walls to make space.”
The home office trend isn't going away anytime soon, he notes.
“Even when the pandemic is over,” King says, “there’ll be a lot of people still working from home.” He notes that because of this trend, use of home technology is also increasing as households install items such as ethernet cables for computer networks and Bluetooth speakers.
3. More outdoor living
One cure for that cooped-up feeling is outdoor living areas.
“People want their backyards to be their oasis,” King says. In his area, he says pools are the No. 1 thing being added to backyards. Outdoor kitchens and fire pits are the next most popular.
Homeowners spending more time at home may also start to seek out remodeling projects that bring beautiful outdoor views inside — for instance, by installing larger windows or glass doors that let in more natural light.
4. Longer wait times
Besides shifts in design trends, homeowners can expect a continued slow-down in the industry. In some cases, safety concerns have changed how contractors and workers approach projects. For example, Dollman has suspended all work in occupied residences to avoid exposure to COVID-19 “to protect the homeowners and our crews,” he says.
Getting permits can also take much longer than usual as demand increases and those who approve the permits adapt to new working conditions — for instance, working at home rather than in the office, or working with a limited staff.
5. Bold colors
For homebound do-it-yourselfers looking for affordable ways to make rooms more welcoming this year, adding a colorful fresh coat of paint will likely be high on their list.
A sign that bold colors and color combinations could be gaining favor: They featured prominently among Color of the Year winners for 2021 announced by brands including Sherwin Williams, Pantone and Benjamin Moore. Sherwin Williams selected Urbane Bronze (a dark brownish-gray), for instance; Benjamin Moore selected an Aegean Teal (a blue-green color); Pantone selected a color duo: Ultimate Gray and Illuminating (a gray tone alongside a bright yellow color).
For homeowners, striking paint colors like these could be an appealing low-cost way to add depth, excitement and personality to a room without overwhelming it.