We have all heard phrases like “life will never be the same” or “this is the new normal”. As monotonous as this may sound, it affected all aspects of life including the spaces where we spend most of our time. Although the pandemic brought with it plenty of sadness and negativity, we can’t help but notice that the total social and economic reset has compelled people to think and act more responsibly and innovatively.


How has the Covid-19 pandemic shifted the way homeowners view and use their homes?


Nearing the one-year mark since South Africa went into lockdown, we have noticed a definite change in the way clients view their homes. Covid-19 pushed clients into the shoes of an architect. Our homes are no longer just our sanctuaries to relax, entertain and unwind; they have had to become the workplace, school, and gym as well. The majority of houses and possible designs do not cater for these different uses and users.


New research reveals that the majority of homeowners or prospective homeowners believe that the design of their home affects their mental wellbeing. Spending more time in the home near loved ones also made it evident that a well-designed home can contribute to harmonious living with others in the house.


What impact has Covid-19 had on designing for the future?


With the situation ongoing, it is difficult to say what will follow with new design trends. However, construction and home sales are continuing and will serve the needs of consumers for years to come. The relationship with the home has changed resulting in a change in buyer and homebuilder’s preferences. At JK Designs, we are keeping the following points in mind when designing for the future:


· From study nook to home office


The times of a home office being a “nice-to-have” are over. Working from home has become the norm with video platforms making this easily obtainable. This space is no longer just a desk in a corner – it has had to become a dedicated room with good lighting and privacy to cater to the user’s needs.


· Introducing the mudroom


A fairly new concept to the South African home market, the mudroom is a transitional space between the outdoors (or garage) and the indoors. This room can hold items like footwear, school bags, or any items that can potentially clutter the home or needs disinfecting.


· Multifunctional spaces


Smaller homes require the ability to have multipurpose rooms. Guest bedrooms can seamlessly convert into a home office or gym. These potential multi-uses should all be considered from the start of the design process.


· Local is lekker


The availability of certain imported materials has become noticeably unstable, forcing us to look more local when specifying. Not only does this support the economy but it exposes more cost-effective options that are designed specifically for the South African market.


· Smart Homes


At the forefront of technology, home automation contributes to the multi-faceted topic of keeping people safe through touchless interaction.


· Back to basics


Guest entertainment or making a statement with your home no longer peaks as high on a client’s priority list. We are going back to basics – having the facilities to care for our loved ones through inclusive design. This includes having a practical kitchen to cook or spend time in or having the option to accommodate the elderly in an accessible, comfortably-sized guest room.


Have you noticed or received a lot of home remodelling requests and if so which rooms or spaces?


Requests for home improvements have definitely increased. Clients have fully realised that changes to their home design can have a major impact on their quality of living. Addition and alteration requests include:

· Addition of office space to work from home

· Additional space requirement by means of extensions

· More energy-efficient homes

· Additional space to accommodate family or friends for extended periods


Do you think the new way of living is here to stay and would you say it has a good or negative impact on residential architectural designs?


If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it is almost impossible to know what the future holds. As a species, we are very adaptable, and more often than not are resilient to reverting back to what we once knew when we have discovered and become comfortable with our new “normal”.


We believe that this pandemic has forced us all to revise our behaviour and thoughts. Unlike popular opinion, this can be viewed optimistically. We are supporting local, learning through adaptation, and are designing appropriate spaces that support the mental well-being of its users. We strongly encourage homeowners to seek professional expertise to make their dreams a reality.

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