Who would have thought a year ago that the way we use our homes would undergo such a dramatic change? But the pandemic has led to many of us staying at home more and re-thinking the way we use our space.
Entertain outdoors all year
A recent report by the National Garden Scheme (NGS) reveals just how important outdoor spaces have become to our physical and mental wellbeing – a trend that is set to continue.
Its online poll of more than 2,400 Brits offers an insight into how we use our gardens, balconies and outdoor spaces, with 86% people using them more during the first lockdown.
More than three-quarters (77%) of people polled by the NGS said that relaxation was the main reason why they used outdoor spaces, leading to soaring sales of garden furniture, outdoor heating and lighting that are set to continue in 2021.
Customers at John Lewis splurged on bistro sets and outdoor sofas during the summer and, as the colder weather has set in, sales of outdoor heaters have risen by 331%, fire pits by 140% and outdoor lighting by 172%, according to the John Lewis Flexible Living Report 2020.
If you are thinking of buying new garden furniture or a barbecue, remember that early 2021 is the best time to bag a bargain rather than leaving it until the summer.
Work from home (WFH)
Some form of remote working is likely to be the norm for many office workers even once the pandemic is over, with 57% of those polled by John Lewis expecting to work from home in the future.
Only 33% were lucky enough to have a dedicated home office, with a third more using the dining room. Weather permitting, 16% used an outside space to work, while 9% even worked in the bathroom.
John Lewis has seen sales of designer desks rise by 73%, bookshelves by 26% and paint and wallpaper by 16%. Expect this trend to continue, with bedroom transformations also on the cards – sales of bunk beds have soared by 60% as people try to maximise space.
Add a garden room
No space indoors? Then building a garden room/office could be the answer. Online searches for garden offices peaked in the UK in mid-June 2020 and were also high in mid-September before levelling out as winter set in, according to Google Trends.
The great thing about garden rooms is that they generally don’t need planning permission because they are classed as outbuildings.
You will need to check that you don’t fall foul of permitted development rights. For example, you are not allowed to use more than half of the area around the original house for other buildings; the building must be single-storey with a maximum eaves height of 2.5 metres and maximum overall height of four metres with a dual pitched roof or three metres for any other roof. It can also have no verandas, balconies or raised platforms. For more information, visit the government’s planning portal.
Garden rooms are priced by square metre but the price will also depend on whether you buy a modular, off-the-shelf or bespoke garden room. As a rough guide, tradespeople directory Checkatrade says a mini garden office delivered for self-assembly costs, on average, £2,650, plus £690 for labour – but that’s before fitting decking, roof and floor insulation, painting walls, windows and doors and adding electricity.
Reconfigure your home
While open-plan living has been the norm since the 1970s, its popularity has started to decline since the pandemic as people prefer private spaces for home-working, relaxation, exercising, and hobbies.
One in five of us has created a space at home to have ‘me time’ alone or have reconfigured open-plan spaces so that multiple activities can take place, according to the John Lewis research. This can range from a zone for hobbies (21%) to creating a gym or yoga area (17%). In line with this trend, John Lewis saw sales of fitness machines go up by 122% last year, while yoga accessories were up by 45%.
Take a ‘shelfie’
Most of us are intrigued by what’s on the shelving behind friends, family, politicians and celebrities on video calls, so styling shelving with interesting plants and objects is gaining ground. Reflecting this trend, sales of plants have gone up by 419% in John Lewis, while sales of artwork are up by 35%.
Create a home spa
When it comes to home trends, the images and videos posted by Pinterest’s 400 million-plus ‘Pinners’ offer a good indication of what lies ahead for 2021.
The social media giant predicts that deep soaking tubs and free-standing baths in bedrooms will become increasingly popular as people try to replicate the health spa resort experience at home.
Searches for deep soaking tubs have gone up by 145% over the year, while searches for baths in a bedroom have doubled, according to Pinterest Predicts: The Soon to be Trending report for 2021. Neon lighting in bedrooms is also set to take off over the next 12 months.
The home spa trend can be seen in the garden too, with sales of hot tubs rising by 1,000% on eBay just after the first lockdown.
Make your home a smart one
Some 29% of Brits now own a smart speaker – up from 7% in 2017 – according to GfK/techUK’s Smart Home study.
Smart devices with voice assistants, such as Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod, improve your home’s interconnectivity and reduce the need to touch potentially contaminated surfaces – a selling point during a pandemic.
You can already use voice activation to control a room’s lighting, thermostat and TV; boil the kettle or switch on the oven with an app or your voice; and answer the door remotely with smart doorbell/camera – there is no doubt things will get even smarter in 2021.