The Post-Pandemic House
Will Covid-19 change our definitions of home and the design features we want? We asked experts to weigh in.
The pandemic has prompted an intense focus on outdoor spaces, which offer the only safe place for homeowners to entertain. “It’s been a running joke in the office that everyone who’s calling wants a screened porch,” says Wilma Bowers of Bowers Design Build in McLean. “Now that they’re stuck in the house, they want an outdoor space built in conjunction with the kitchen. Everyone wants an extension of their home.”
Her firm is outfitting open-air spaces with fireplaces, TV and speaker systems, high-end finishes and power sources for lighting and laptops.
At AJ Madison, sales of outdoor-kitchen appliances are up, Petrino reports, as are wine fridges.
And because public pools are either closed or open with restricted occupancy, inquiries about backyard pools have skyrocketed, says Arlington landscape architect Jennifer Horn. “Everybody wants to build a pool right now, and everybody wants to build a fire pit. They say, ‘This is the only way I can see my friends.’ ”
D.C. designer Kiyonda Powell serves on a committee of the national Black Artists + Designers Guild (BADG) that’s organizing a virtual house of the future, to be presented this fall. The concept house—which will be digitally superimposed on an actual homesite in Oakland, California—could include a dining room with a table that extends onto an adjacent outdoor terrace.
“We’re specifically looking at what it means to live on the other side of Covid. How do we use spaces in multiple functional ways?” says Powell, who also designed a multitasking rec room in the ASPIRE house. “We’re really thinking twice or three times about how each space can be reimagined for different scenarios.”
For example, the BADG concept house will feature a pool house that can be converted into a parents’ or caregiver’s suite, she says, and a “sanctuary structure” farther back on the property that offers a quiet escape for yoga or meditation.