If you thought your home was big enough in the days before COVID-19, you might not think so anymore. With lockdowns and a new trend towards working from home, we’ve spent more time at home over the last year than ever before. And that’s led many people to question if their current property still meets their practical and lifestyle needs.

Shifting priorities

As we enter the third month of 2021, it’s clear that buyers’ priorities have shifted. Today, people want spacious living, separate study areas and a home that has what it takes to become a workplace, school, playroom, restaurant, spa retreat, gym, and bar! So, it’s no surprise that the top three most searched terms on realestate.com in December 2020 were study, outdoor area and pool. In that order.

Personal and professional living

With the rapid adoption of working from home, a private workspace has become absolutely essential. This trend in itself has had a huge impact on the housing market. Many people won’t return to the office, so our homes now need to adapt to our family and professional lives. This means more space and a layout that makes it easy for us to take private calls, spend hours on Zoom meetings, and have alone time to concentrate when we need it.

The limitations of open plan living

Open plan living has been popular with Australians for years. It’s a layout that worked well for families living in a pre-Covid world. But during lockdown, its limitations were pushed to the max. Sharing one living space for an extended period has resulted in a re-evaluation of living areas, a consideration of future needs, and a focus on making a living space work for every member of the family.

Separate study areas

Many people have turned bedrooms into offices. Those with the room have converted studios, garages and granny flats into workspaces. Others have created small study nooks by converting an alcove or setting up a desk under the stairs. Or divided up their open-plan space using screens and installing sliding doors. Some of these solutions work better than others. But what has become clear is there’s a real need to create acoustic separation from the rest of the family.

More indoor and outdoor space

Many recent buyers in Byron Bay have wanted a larger home with a separate study and extra bedrooms, so there’s plenty of scope to work from home. On top of that, prospective buyers are asking questions they’ve not asked before. Such as whether they’d be able to live and work in the home for long periods. Whether there’s adequate room to exercise, enough outdoor space and private areas that can be shut off for quiet time when needed.

The impact of COVID-19 on design

COVID-19 has highlighted that a home needs to be able to adapt to the changing needs of a family. And while home designs may start to meet this need in the coming years, the trend towards hygienic sensor features and voice-activated kitchen appliances has quickly increased. What’s more, architects are talking about multipurpose rooms with non-permanent walls or rooms designed so they can be opened up and closed off as needed.

Safe, comfortable, practical homes

Now, more than ever before, homeowners want their homes to be safe, welcoming spaces that are comfortable, functional and designed to adapt to whatever the future might bring. While successful vaccines may mean that our homes and our lives will return to normal sooner rather than later, the impact of a new era of working from home means the need for a more spacious home is unlikely to disappear any time soon.