Sheltering in place has inspired many homeowners on Long Island to reimagine and improve the look and function of their dwellings.

When people have lots of time on their hands, they tend to get creative. 

That has certainly been true during the pandemic when DIY projects have become super popular, with home improvement stores seeing a boost in sales. Sheltering in place has inspired many homeowners on Long Island to reimagine and improve the look and function of their dwellings. 

Working from home and remote learning have meant that families have had to create dedicated spaces in a jiffy, while some parents have been busy repurposing rooms, attics, and basements for their grown kids, who were suddenly leaving college dorms and city pads and moving back home. 

According to a recent survey of nearly 1,000 U.S. homeowners on Houzz, 70 percent reported reported they were thinking about making changes that could help them enjoy their homes more. Outdoor, bathroom, and kitchen projects topped the wish list.

Here’s what design pros have been doing to help homeowners out during the pandemic. 

NEW NORMAL

Haley Johnson, communications coordinator at real estate marketplace Zillow, points out that the pandemic emphasized the importance of keeping germs away from the main spaces of your home. 

“Consider upgrading your bathroom or kitchen with a touchless faucet to limit the amount of areas your family and guests are touching,” she suggests. “Plus, a nice, new faucet can add style to a bathroom or kitchen alike.”

Builders are also considering how coronavirus will drive building decisions in the future. 

“Staying at home emphasized there were not enough quiet spaces to work, and we might start to see the once-popular open floor plans change in favor of more privacy, adding in more doors to separate rooms,” she explains. “As people are working from home now, there needs to be space to accommodate. However, you can also have the best of both worlds by adding barn door features to give yourself privacy when needed, while still preserving the open-concept space.”

GREAT OUTDOORS

During quarantine, folks craved spending time outdoors and quickly learned how to transform any backyard or patio space, no matter how small or boring, into a lovely oasis. And now, it’s a hot trend. 

“It’s no surprise outdoor space is the top reason people would consider a move due to social distancing recommendations,” Haley says. “Spend this time sprucing up your yard by landscaping, adding a firepit, and overall making your outdoor spaces a cozy getaway you can enjoy safely.”

Design pros Jen Fox and Tonia Omeltchenko of LI-based Fox + Chenko touted some recent “pandemic-friendly” projects that have made a huge difference in their clients’ lives. In one, a multi-seasonal, screened outdoor living space with direct access to the backyard added sizable square footage to a family’s Port Washington residence. 

Careful space planning and selection of all-weather performance furnishings and lighting created both lounging and dining zones. In chillier months, heat from the natural stone gas fireplace will warm the room, while in nicer weather, framed screen windows and an oversized driftwood ceiling fan allow for ultimate cooling and airflow.  

A combination of pendant and sconce light fixtures adds style and function. Tall outdoor lanterns, patterned decorative pillows, a colorful textured area rug, and lush greenery add a relaxed ambiance to this nature-inspired refuge.

MULTIFUNCTIONAL MUSTS

In another project, a new home office doubles as a guest room for a client in Great Neck.

“Not only does the user need a proper space for a laptop and cell phone, but other factors, like how quiet the area is for a phone call, how well-positioned the space is to WiFi, or what the background for a Zoom call is, has to be considered,” says Omeltchenko.

“The desk area has to be organized and have storage space,” she adds. “The bed – usually a pullout sofa – should have a comfortable mattress and be easy to operate.”

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