As cities, states, and countries shut down due to the COVID 19 virus, most people hunkered down at home — for over a year. There's no other way to put it. The pandemic transformed the way we live. It happened across the entire world. And many of these post COVID home organizing trends to a more home-centered lifestyle continue months after the first vaccines began to roll out. It looks like the changes may be permanent.
As an essential business supporting the home building industry, Closet Works kept working throughout the pandemic. We had a unique opportunity to observe the changes inside people's households and lifestyles. And there were definitely shifts to the way we live and do business. After more than 20,000 in-home visits by Closet Works employees and dealers, here are some of the major post COVID home organization trends we saw that seem likely to remain with us or a long time.
8 ways the COVID 19 pandemic changed our home organization priorities, preferences, practices, and lifestyles for good.
Is there such a thing as too much togetherness? It seems the answer is yes. The phrase "work-life balance" used to refer to having enough time with friends and family outside of work. Now the scale seems tipped the other way. People want more alone time and more private spaces away from others to do their work. We stay home rather than go out. That translates to a need for extra storage so that we can "stock up" and multipurpose spaces where we can engage in activities previously done outside our private residences. And with the personal dwelling taking center stage in our lives, it seems no nook or cranny is going to be overlooked in our quest to make it do more, hold more, and be more.
These organizing trends appear to be on the increase in homes across America.
The Dedicated Home Office is a Necessity
With so many people working from home, a dedicated home office became a necessity for homeowners in all walks of life in the last year and a half. Even our essential workers who continued go commute to the office, or store, or medical facility have children engaged in remote schooling from home. They may have started out using the kitchen table but that just didn't cut it over the long haul. Everyone needs an office in their home. In fact, some require several to accommodate multiple family members. In response, people had to get creative with their space management. Some lucky homeowners have room for a stand-alone home office. Others have converted areas of the home intended for a different function into a private workspace. These include closets and guest bedrooms among other spaces. When there simply wasn't any space to be had, rooms were made multifunctional through extra organization and custom storage strategies. Here are the top three solutions for home offices:
Home Office as a Separate Room: A separate room as home office is ideal for work-life balance. Some newer homes are built with a separate room intended as a home office. Others find a rarely used dining room, library, or spare bedroom make a perfect workspace. The advantage to these rooms is that they usually have a door that can be closed to increase privacy during work hours. Shut that same door at the end of the day and "the office is closed." The space can be outfitted with any type of desk or storage needed to keep the home worker or home schooler focused and organized.
Multipurpose Guest Room/Home Office: Those who can't dedicate an entire room to an office are often turning to multipurpose spaces that easily convert from one kind of space to another. The Murphy bed has been used for many years as a way to convert a sleeping chamber into an office workspace or living area. And the space doesn't have to be very large. Different size beds that fold out either vertically or horizontally are available to suit most any room. Unlike a sofa bed which is always present in one form or another, when the Murphy bed is closed up, it is hidden away inside the wall or cabinet. It's a popular option for people who don't want to eliminate the guest bedroom that gets occasional use but need a dedicated room as a home office for most of the year.
Closet Conversion/Cloffice: The coffice (coffee shop as office) is dead, but long live the cloffice (closet as office). Sometimes it's hard to keep up on the slang, but the trend is obvious. Those who don't have a separate room that can become a dedicated home office are turning to the closet for a home office renovation. It's easy to see why. Not everyone has the extra space to convert a separate room into a home office, but everyone has a closet. A closet can become a very efficient private office space when furnished with a proper ergonomic work area and storage. Custom desks and shelving can go a long way to making this happen because they are able to utilize every inch of space. LED lighting systems add the needed illumination without having to open up the walls for wiring. But where do the clothes go after a closet to office conversion? A cloffice conversion often goes hand-in-hand with a closet organization system for the remaining closets.
The need to increase closet storage has become a necessity rather than a luxury. Once restricted to homeowners with a lot of disposable income, custom closets designed to maximize storage possibilities have become commonplace in homes from all walks of life. In order to make room for the Zoom room/office/new pantry, closets must be able to handle additional storage from the spaces that are being repurposed. The easiest way to do this is with a closet organizer system that utilizes every inch of wall space from floor to ceiling. A new closet system can often double the available storage space. That makes it one of the most economical ways of getting more space into the home. The increasing popularity of custom closets television shows is a trend to watch as it shows no signs of abetting among homeowners any time soon.
Larger shopping trips less often became the norm during the pandemic as people everywhere tried to limit their excursions into the grocery store and keep to their "bubble." That means a need for more places to store food and other sundries. It seems that many people like the idea of spending less time at the grocery store. Increased pantry storage continues to be a popular home improvement project for all types of homes. And creative ways of adding an extra pantry abound, from basements and garages to hallway closet conversions, and shelving that maximizes the vertical storage areas around the kitchen.
Enclosed Porch Conversions
Underutilized spaces throughout the home are being reclaimed. One example is the porch. In many homes this covered space is being finished off for year-round use. It's easier (and cheaper) than doing a full room addition as the floor and roof are already in place. Porches make great home offices or in-home classroom/craft room space for the kids. They can also be turned into a private den or even a dressing room for the bedroom depending on location. As a result of the increasing porch conversions, fully furnished outdoor living areas are also on the rise as the previous porch furniture moves to the patio or deck, allowing that space to function as a true, outdoor room.
Another space that may have previously been underutilized is the basement. Dark, dingy, and damp basements are a thing of the past. Current crack repair, water proofing techniques, and advances in heating and lighting for below grade spaces have opened up this previously often ignored space to new opportunities. ore homeowners than ever before are taking advantage of the extra living areas a basement can provide. Everything from another home office to rec room with pool or ping pong table, video gaming rooms, home theaters, and even personal gyms are finding a space to call home in the basement. Having these amenities inside the home means the owners don't need to seek them elsewhere. It's all part of the stay-at-home trend gripping the world. And where would the homeowner be without additional cabinets and shelves to handle all the equipment needed for the activities going on in these newly renovated basements.
Multipurpose Garages as Living Space
We've all heard of the finished basement, but the finished garage? Yes, it's a thing. As families look for more space, garages are getting the full treatment. Some families don't have a basement. An organized garage can provide similar storage opportunities. Others just want more room for the kids to play and the garage is the last frontier of available space. But whatever the reason, garages are getting their own large screen TVs, refrigerators, work benches, custom cabinets, and more. Epoxy coatings on the cement floor and custom cabinetry mean these garages are often as nice as the inside of the house. And a sturdy garage organization system means there's always room to park a car no matter how many toys, tools and whatnot the space needs to hold.
These post COVID organizing trends are here to stay.
It's easy to understand why people wanted more from their homes during lock down. But high demand for custom organized spaces that can help them accommodate increased activities inside the home shows no sign of letting up. It seems that many people like being home as long as that home can satisfy all of their needs. There's a new era of cocooning overtaking the country as we all hunker down and spruce up our homes with a private home office, bigger pantry, organized closet, multipurpose rooms, finished basement, porch, and garage.