Focus/20 Workshop: A New Approach to Home Design post-Covid-19

The last few months have undoubtedly affected every aspect of our lives, including our homes and our relationships with them. Now more than ever, the home is viewed as an oasis of peace and safety, somewhere we can feel protected from the outside.

In an interesting panel hosted by Suzanne Imre, former Livingetc editor and brand consultant, interior designers Benji Lewis of Benji Lewis Design and Zoom That Room, Phoebe Oldrey of SmartSyle Interiors and Bhavin Taylor of Bhavin Taylor Design discussed the new approach to design post lockdown.

As many of us have had to incorporate the extra functions of remote working, homeschooling or simply spending more time together in the home, priorities for our spaces have shifted. Guest rooms have been turned into home offices, gardens have been transformed into outdoor gyms and dining tables have become work desks. Homeowners have embarked on all kinds of projects, from quick updates to total overhauls, to make their homes more functional, welcoming and safe.

One thing people focused on, says Benji, is storage: our home is now the backdrop for both personal life and work, so organisation is key in keeping the two separate.

Phoebe, known for her holistic approach to interiors, says people are now updating their homes in two stages. First is the reconfiguration: layouts are changed, rooms are given a different purpose and storage is added to adapt to the ‘new normal’. Next comes the decorating, using colours and materials that bring us joy. Brighter décor paired with shades of nature such as greens and blues are now being incorporated into our spaces to create sanctuaries that make us feel happy and comfortable. A more confident approach to colour is also sparked by the realisation that our home should reflect us, not impress guests. Without the pressure of welcoming visitors into our space, our choices are bolder and more personal, aimed to create a home that serves us emotionally just as much as physically.

What colours and patterns bring happiness and positivity for this new way of living? Bhavin suggests colour is a very personal choice, but in general, blue is a great option for neutral-lovers trying to expand their aesthetics. Refreshing and uplifting, blue has a wide variety of tones that can convey many different moods, from relaxing to moody, that can be used in both formal and informal spaces. It’s also a great base colour for more playful combinations, such as navy and baby pink or powder blue and teal.

The three designers concluded by sharing what changes they hope will remain moving forwards. With the home having a more central role, Bhavin hopes people will value interior designers more, particularly as guides that can help turn a house into a personal haven where to feel safe and alive. Phoebe thinks we’ll be more interested in supporting smaller, independent brands that can create personal items, while Benji hopes we will continue to have control in our homes to help us deal with the outside.

Covid-19 has brought about a revolution in the way we think about home. With life still unfolding mostly within our four walls, design is no longer about aesthetics, but about the feeling it evokes. Reimagining our space as a positive, happy, safe and comfortable retreat has become a priority shared by millions, to help us connect and feel at peace with our new reality.