It’s true – home is where the heart is. However, now that the world is experiencing one of the most pervasive pandemics in recent history, we are discovering that home is also where the health is.
Social distancing, rigorous hygiene practices, and remote work environments have become essential tools for staying healthy and productive in this post-pandemic world. In response, design and development professionals should focus on improving our living spaces. By rethinking how rooms are organized and specifying appropriate products, we can make lasting changes to safeguard our future.
The graphic below highlights ten apartment design strategies for a post-pandemic world.
1. Mini mud room
Create a clean break between the outside world and your domicile by locating a nook near the front door, and preferably near the laundry room. Provide enough room to comfortably shed shoes, jackets, masks, and gloves.
2. Hands-free entry
Fob readers, automatic latches, and foot-operated openers keep hands away from door handles. They also come in handy when arms are full after a grocery run.
3. Private laundries
For many multifamily developments, private laundry facilities are still considered a luxury. As we move towards being more health-conscience, developers should consider in-unit appliances to minimize unnecessary exposure. If private facilities are a no-go, then shared laundry rooms should provide adequate clearance between appliances and serve as few units as possible.
4. Large capacity appliances
While practicing social distancing, shopping trips become less frequent, which means needing to store more perishable foods. Kitchens that can accommodate larger refrigerators and freezers are a plus. More time at home also means more dirty dishes, so a dishwasher with a large capacity will save time and water.
5. Adequate counter space
For many, staying home means more home cooking, so kitchen designs should provide adequate counter space. One rule of thumb recommends three separate work surfaces that are at least 4 feet long. If space permits, incorporate an island. It provides extra room for food prep and a dedicated area to unpack groceries.
6. Large pantries
Having extra storage space for dry goods and paper products makes bulk buying more manageable.
7. Dedicated workspace
During lockdowns, it is especially important to get our remote working system up and running. Unit layouts should provide a separate room large enough to accommodate diverse functions. From teleworking and home education to fitness programs and virtual meetups.
8. Specify bidets
Bidets are still considered a luxury apartment feature. However, many American households have discovered that bidets can reduce the consumption of precious paper products. If a full-size fixture is not feasible, toilets with bidet attachments provide a cost-effective and space-saving alternative.
9. Extra wall insulation
Most apartment buildings already have code-required acoustic barriers. However, with more people at home during the day, consider providing extra soundproofing. Not only between dwelling units, but also around bedrooms and home offices.
10. Generous terraces
During extended periods of quarantine, many people begin to feel restless. They miss the connection to the outside world. Having access to a private outdoor space can provide a much-needed escape. Larger terraces can also accommodate exercise equipment or small vegetable gardens.
Many of the strategies highlighted above are based on good design practices. Some are a direct response to the realities of living through a pandemic. Regardless, the goal is to make our homes more functional. As we take measured steps to venture out of quarantine and back into some semblance of normalcy, we should be focused on designing for this new reality. Along the way, we might discover a new appreciation for our homes and how they work to keep us safe and secure.