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This year saw an incredible shift in the day-to-day operations of the world. Offices shuttered, daily commutes ended, and we tried to do it all—from schooling to working out to therapy to vacations—in our homes. According to a study, 36.2 million Americans (22% of the workforce) will be working remotely by 2025, which is an 87% increase from the number of remote workers prior to the pandemic. It’s no wonder that how we’re thinking about renovation projects has likely changed from previous years. So we reached out to those in the world of decorating, landscape design, and home improvement for the scoop on what they think the big trends will be for 2021 reno projects.

Giving rooms a new life
“Entertainment and recreational room design help requests have, as of recently, begun to supersede family room makeovers, which were the leading trend for the past eight to nine months,” says Devin Shaffer, lead interior designer at Decorilla Online Interior Design. “The pandemic continues to teach us new ways to maximize the uses of the space that we’re spending time in. Because of this, many homeowners have maxed out the design opportunities for the most commonly used rooms in their homes and are now seeking expert advice on what rooms or areas in their home can take on a new life. Basement remodel projects are a great way to create a recreational room, and they have been in high demand over the last quarter of the year. We expect this to trend more and more over the next year.”

The most fun requests Devin is seeing: in-home theaters, indoor bowling lanes, full home bars, indoor golf simulators, and climbing walls. “It’s been really interesting to see designers and clients get creative with out-of-the-box alternatives to basements with garage-to–home-gym conversions, guest bedrooms–to–at-home arcade rooms, and the latest is a home library–to–Lego-collection showroom.”

Focusing on work-from-home sanctuaries
“With more and more workers taking up remote positions in a post-COVID world, I think we are going to see an even larger increase in demand for live/work-space renovation, whether that’s the transformation of current bedrooms and bonus spaces into offices or the addition of purpose-built home-office structures to empty land,” says Christian Adams, CEO and cofounder at Repair Pricer. “The focus will be on creating functional spaces that can double for both [live/work] purposes, such as built-in furniture that can be hidden away or used for work and storage, or improving sound insulation in existing walls and areas to create a calm environment for work.”

“People will spend more time and effort in designing a unique working space to maximize their concentration, motivation, and productivity,” says Jing Xue, COO and cofounder of DecorMatters. “Things like location, colors, decorations, and furniture have a big effect on your mental and physical state. In fact, bright lighting has been shown to make people happier, ambient sounds help people focus, and poor air quality can lead to a drop in productivity.”

Making room for multigenerational households
“One trend I have seen emerging in major markets that has even been picked up on by large tract builders such as Lennar, is the creation of purpose-built multigenerational homes with essentially two separate homes under one roof,” says Christian. “This is not just down to the shifting dynamic among families but also because of the ability for homeowners to monetize the extra space for long-term rentals or even Airbnb-style short-term leasing.”

We’ve already had our eyes opened to the power of ADUs and backyard casitas but prepare for an ever-growing landscape of modular solutions that, Christian adds, “will come ready to assemble, allowing for renovators to offer a complete turnkey solution for customers where they can literally pick a tiny home from a catalog and have it constructed on site in record time. This also removes the need for large-scale ongoing construction disrupting an often already chaotic home environment where space and privacy is already in short supply.”

Incorporating green solutions
“Now that the Electoral College has confirmed Joe Biden as the next president, I think we will see a return to green initiatives that were sorely lacking under the previous government. Whether it’s the addition of larger systems like solar power or rainwater harvesting to existing homes or simpler incentives for property owners to undertake insulation and HVAC upgrades, this new initiative will bring a boon of work for both the commercial and residential renovation industries,” says Christian. “At Repair Pricer we have already seen an increase in the prevalence of these types of additions and upgrades, and with potential new tax incentives for green renovation we would expect that trend to continue well into 2021 and beyond.”

Extending the indoors into the outdoors
“Creating a comfortable outdoor living space that is an extension of your indoors will continue to be popular with 2021 home renovations, and not just in the warmer climates,” says Blythe Yost, lead designer and cofounder of landscape design company Tilly. “Designing so that there is a natural flow between the indoors and outdoors with features like large sliding or folding glass doors allow for the option to let the outside in, and vice versa. Drop-down screens on the porch to help with mosquitos, outdoor heating lamps, outdoor fire places that create warmth, and cozy couches will extend your relaxation into the cooler months.”

Creating bathroom oases
How often have you escaped to your bathroom this year with the sole purpose of quiet alone time? The experts at Houzz have the same idea, saying that with the right features, a bathroom can help reduce stress. According to a 2020 Houzz Bathroom Trends Study, two in five homeowners (41%) who renovated a master bathroom say they rely on their new space for rest and relaxation. It’s time to start saving up for renos as big as soaking tubs and steam showers, to smaller upgrades like aromatherapy shower heads and bathtub fillers that can hold a cup of tea or glass of wine.

Getting bigger with tiles
Since we’re spending all our time at home, making visual upgrades is a big part of the home reno trends. Large-format tile can help visually expand a small space, according to the professionals on Houzz, so their use is on the rise. Another bonus of the trend: Fewer grout lines means less cleaning and less visual clutter. “We’re seeing large tiles used in a variety of classic patterns, such as herringbone, stacked, and brick,” says Houzz senior editor Mitchell Parker. He recommends if you’re considering large rectangle tiles for an area like the bathroom floor, go with a matte finish, which provides some slip resistance.

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