‘adequacy’ of our current stock of housing, with a lack of outdoor space, natural light, high-speed internet or personal space being just some of the issues that we are now coming to terms with.” After being confi ned to homes with little or no

outdoor space, some clients have told Milan architect Tommaso Giunchi that “they will never again live in a house that does not have at least a small outdoor space”. Many homeowners in the same position will agree, particularly after last year saw one of the sunniest springs on record. Demand for homes with balconies and gardens has surged during lockdown, while applications to adapt thier rooftop spaces for outdoor use are likely to rise. “We are now fi nding that with families spending

more time at home, the volume of space this off ers, together with the intrinsic links we seek to create between home and garden, have become invaluable,” said Richard Hobden of RHJB Architects. “Although somewhat cliched, the merging of internal and external environments provides the impression of greater space and signifi cantly reduces the feeling of confi nement.” There is also a fi nancial imperative. Spending more time in our homes, and paying higher utility bills as a result, means many will prioritise energy effi ciency and sustainability. Houzz, the US online architecture community said energy effi ciency was now a top priority for 40 per cent of homeowners planning renovation projects.

CORK EMERGES AS AN ETHICAL FAVOURITE This could well lead to a rise in the use of low-VOC paints, recycled homewares and eco-friendly building materials. British designer Samantha Watkins McRae summed this up in a comment to the London Evening Standard when she said: “The most effi cient way to conserve energy with any conversion or work to a home is through eff ective insulation. A properly insulated home will ensure that energy does not get wasted and that thermostats don’t constantly need changing. “When it comes to ethical materials, we have seen cork become more popular, used in fl ooring and wall solutions for both residential and commercial projects. It is an incredibly ethical, durable material with amazing acoustic properties so it is perfect for fl ooring, and with its innate renewability, it is becoming more used in furniture. Natural grain, tinted or stained it is incredibly durable with a raw and timeless appeal.” There is also a question of fl exibility. After lockdown measures were

introduced last year, searches on Houzz for “small offi ces” rose by 82 per cent, “garden offi ces” by 72 per cent and “desks” by 69 per cent. This will inevitably lead to a trend for more multifunctional spaces:

FACT Demand for homes with both balconies and

gardens surged during lockdown - applications for balconies are likely to continue to rise

incorporating desks and workspaces into bedrooms and living rooms will become normal. Even those who return to the offi ce will likely have more fl exibility for remote work. Creating multiple workspaces will mean that two people can work from home at the same time without getting in each other’s way. We could also see a more creative approach to home storage: low- level units in multiple rooms – ottoman style furniture, sideboards and cabinets may become attractive additions, along with fl oor-to- ceiling kitchen spaces and creative solutions such as under-bench and even hallway storage. Bathrooms – for long, somewhere

to escape to after a hard day – may be enhanced by becoming home spas, with the addition of elements such as a steam function, especially as the traditional family bathroom has become redundant with


growth of the en-suite. Some experts

have even been

suggesting the bigger rooms could be transformed into a home gym- cum-spa space to fully maximise every

square inch and enhance opportunities to promote health and



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