While the sales of residential homes may have reduced momentarily, the emphasis on owning a home and making it a comfortable space, is only likely to increase following the Coronavirus pandemic. With homes doubling-up as work spaces, Gita Ramanan, CEO and co-founder of Design Café, shares some valuable inputs on what you must do, if you are renovating, remodelling or buying a new property.
Q: Post-COVID-19 and with companies encouraging work from home, homes truly need to be utilitarian. What are some of the design ideas that you would suggest for urban homes.
A: It is imperative that any design you pick, must inspire productivity, keep away from distractions and act as an abode to nurture creative ideas. A modern home office design can cater to multiple facets of your home and is also a terrific space-saver. Something that is ‘built for multi-utility’ and is also aesthetically pleasing to look at, can be tough to achieve. Stripes are a fabulous way to decorate a home office space. The use of black, white, grey and a pop of yellow colours can create an ambience that reads: ‘Study station but also for recreation’. Contemporary tiled floors with white stripes and black and white drapes, ensure that enough light seeps into your home office to create a pleasant and spacious space, for your mind to be at its productive best.
It is also important to choose colours wisely. For example, you can opt for a dandy pink and white office cabinet, to store all of your office stationery, so that your room does not look messy after a day’s work. A brown and black abstract study chair can looks stunning against a soft brown area rug. This design allows you to convert your home office seat to a comfy reading spot, whenever you wish to.
A large wall mirror can have multiple uses. Place it, in a way that the room receives abundant light, making it look naturally spacious. You can choose to embellish the wall with artwork that is not too bright, while ensuring that it does not add clutter.
Q: Is there something that new home owners must keep in mind, when remodeling their home? What materials do you suggest?
A: New homes are generally not remodelled, as in most situations, the builder takes inputs from the home owner from the very beginning. However, there are a few things that he/she can keep in mind while designing it. Ideally, one’s lifestyle determines how every bit of the space in the house is utilised. This includes how their day typically pans out, likes and dislikes, habits, etc. A fair understanding of this, will help translate the designs best suited to their needs.
- Laminates for easy maintenance
- Glass for a contemporary look
- A bit of veneer or Duco for the textured rich look
Q: What design trends have turned obsolete, or out of fashion now?
A: All white interiors or over-the-top tacky designs are definitely out of fashion. Extremes are out too. It is good to mix and balance the spaces, with some statement pieces.
Q: What is the easiest way to add space to rooms?
A: A few units like open storages or hidden storage units, with different mechanisms like sliding/collapsible or pocket doors, can be a good way of adding storage while keeping the room free of clutter.
Make sure you do not lose out on ventilation and light. For smaller spaces, go for lighter finishes/paint, for the space to look airy and big. A dark colour or a deep texture may make it look much smaller.
As we spend most of our time indoors, it has become difficult to ignore the current settings of our homes. A considerable amount of time and effort is now being spent on architecture and design to adapt to the changed requirements in a post-Coronavirus world.
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What to keep in mind when making design changes?
Swati Santani, VP, design R&D, Design Café, gives some tips, for those looking to make long-term changes to their homes:
Ensure a relaxing ambience
As people get more used to the concept of staying indoors, comfort is indispensable. A relaxing ambience can be easily achieved with good lighting, ventilation, soft-toned walls and greenery.
Opt for multi-functional furniture
With most people facing space constraints in cities, there is now a dire need for multi-functional furniture. In the last few months, working professionals have understood the importance of having an indoor office that doubles up as a guest bedroom when needed, or a living room that can be turned into a small office. This can be easily achieved using multi-functional furniture.
Use anti-microbial materials
It is important for future homes to be cleaner and more hygienic with the inclusion of anti-microbial fabrics, to prevent the growth of different kinds of bacteria and viruses. Anti-microbial materials and wall paints can be easily cleaned and disinfected.
Allot a dedicated space for the home office
Given that work-from-home may become a permanent fixture in our professional lives, home offices have become a necessity. Temporary work stations are not the solution in the long term. The office space at home should follow the rules of ergonomics along with better lighting, storage, inclusion of office equipment and furniture, where work can be carried out seamlessly.
Smart homes may be nearer
The smart home concept comprises various technologies and features that are interconnected by the Internet of Things (IoT). The concept allows all interconnected devices to communicate with each other, thereby, ensuring that our hands need not come in contact with the switchboards and other surfaces. Voice-controlled and kick-touch based elevators are new innovations in high-rise buildings to prevent the use of buttons.
Well-designed outdoor space
While not all of us are blessed with the luxury of a garden or a terrace/balcony, the ones who do must make the most of it. As we spend more time indoors, access to open areas can help us feel rejuvenated and relaxed. A balcony or garden also helps maintain ventilation at home, thereby, having a positive impact on our mental and physical health.
Focus on multi-functional spaces
With all family members or occupants staying together, it can make the home a cramped space. As a result, home owners must turn towards open plan homes, so that all the common areas of the house are positioned within a single space. The open plan allows for a flexible furniture layout and helps in making room for multiple functions. Other additions may include a workout space, meditation corner, home office, reading corner, etc., to name a few.
As we start embracing the ‘new normal’, our homes will have a significant impact on our lives. This may, hence, be a good time to incorporate positive changes to the spaces where you now spend most of your time.
What will be the focus of interior designers, post-COVID-19?
Most home owners and interior designers will henceforth focus on utilitarian spaces, without compromising on the look and feel. Urban homes will need to look at better space utilisation and aspects such as ventilation.
How can I make my home spacious?
Opt for modern storage spaces that require less space and are good to look at. Segregate things that you need and do not use anymore. Discard the latter and you will appreciate how much space you have made.