woman laying on a deck outside with plants

5 Ways the Pandemic Has Changed Universal Home Design

From work from home offices to a newfound desire for private outdoor spaces, the pandemic is changing the way we think about universal home design

Here are 5 ways home designers are adjusting their approach:


Increased Interest in Functional Space

When it comes to home remodeling, functionality is just as important (if not more) than aesthetics. We’ve grown more connected to our homes. This makes sense since most of us have been spending nearly all our time in them. This connection will likely continue after the pandemic ends, especially with so many of us now working from home. 

As a result, our spaces need to be used to their full potential to accommodate multiple, specific activities. They need maximum storage space, an effortless flow, and most importantly, they need to be healthy. 


Mental and Physical Health Will Influence Design

Not only does the home design need to be functional – it has to be created with the resident’s mental and physical health in mind. Home designers are paying more attention to their use of materials, lighting, sound, and acoustics than before. They’re also more conscious of defining spaces so that people can separate home from work. This is something that plagued many of us in 2020 and continues to do so today. Comfortable social barriers will become more common as well, especially for people who cohabitate but need their personal space.


Conceptualized Home Offices 

To further define the separation between home space and workspace, home offices are no longer an afterthought. Before COVID-19, roughly 3.4% of the US workforce. That number jumped to nearly 20%, with many more working from home at least part-time or once a month. 

Effective universal home design means accommodating for that. Even if you can’t designate an entire room to your home office, there needs to be a clear “work area,” and it should be as beautiful and functional as the rest of your space. 


Private Outdoor Space

The thought of getting outside and going for a walk or to the park suddenly felt like a luxury last year. Since we’re now spending more time at home (and many of us will continue to do so), private outdoor spaces are becoming more sought after. Here are a few ways that functional home designers are creating these spaces:

  • Micro backyards
  • Roof gardens
  • Micro porches
  • Micro balconies
  • Folding glass doors


Universal Home Design and Hands-Free Technology

Voice-activated technology continues to grow in popularity:

  • 50% of all searches were voice-activated in 2020
  • 55% of households in the US are expected to own a smart speaker in 2022
  • Voice search for shopping needs is projected to turn into a $40 billion industry by 2022
  • Around 75% of voice search users feel like using their smart speaker is part of their daily routine

Voice-activated smart technology is being used more frequently and is integrating seamlessly into our homes. Both Millenials and retirees are realizing the benefits of this technology, which has quickly grown from a luxury to a necessity. Soon, no universal home design will be complete without it.

About Paul Kocharhook

Paul Kocharhook, Certified Aging in Place Specialist, (CAPS), MCGP and Owner of Pathway Design & Construction, based in SODO Seattle. Download your Remodel Reality Check quick sheet and walk through the main points in a remodel project.