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How we live may forever be shaped by the pandemic, and that’s not all bad

It’s trend report time. No. We’re not talking financials. We’re not even talking colors, styles, and appliances. This is a trend report for 2022 about safety, accessibility, functionality and health-enhancing potential of people’s homes during a time when no one has a crystal ball about when the pandemic will abate.

Forbes’ Jamie Gold reports how, with Americans facing more time in their residences because of yet another wave of COVID, wellness design trends can have a tremendous impact on their overall well-being, especially using calming, nature-inspired, personalized spaces. Two years of lockdowns have forced homeowners to study more place-based relationships between homes and the distinctive ecological features surrounding them, according to Kerrie Kelly, an award-winning interior designer interviewed by Gold. “Home needs to be a safe haven that is restorative and regenerative, especially in our bedroom spaces,” says Kelly, who explains how it involves creating transitions between work and rest spaces, simplifying decoration and supporting a calmer lifestyle.

But aside from design, don’t discount hands-free and voice technology. Even when the pandemic wanes, it’s unlikely we will want to touch things again. Touchless tech means we’ve come to realize that it’s just smart from a hygienic standpoint, whether it’s faucets, toilet handles, lights and other essentials. Even if you’re not that germ-averse, we are still concerned with food safety, general cleanliness and convenience, with Siri and Alexa are now old hat, enabling us to have greater reliance on voice automation without feeling so phony about it. And don’t discount how these technologies are seeing us closing shades by voice, letting kids and pets in or out of the house, being able to see what's happening in our home and across the property and having the ability to share that information with authorities, quickly, if needed in case of an emergency.

Mood lighting, which grew in popularity during the pandemic, is being seen in showers to recreate a vast array of experiences, such as the idea of showering in a forest under a full moon, or like you’re standing under a sparkling, sunlit waterfall. Predictions see it blooming even more in 2022 as we realize how the power of light can impact our mood, lower our stress levels, increase our energy level or soothe and calm us after a tough day.

Spaces in our homes have become more precious than ever, as acoustical privacy, air filtration systems and natural light become even more essential. Flexible rooms, sliding doors and walls (open floor plans are now falling from grace), and sound attenuation being applied in home offices helps us through Zoom calls that have taken over our homes even though we may gravitate back to our former workplaces a few times a week.

Everything is now under the microscope. Whisper-quiet high quality air purifiers and faucets that incorporate ozone into the water to better clean vegetables to self-cleaning sinks and dishwashers with high-quality sanitize cycles – things that fit seamlessly into the design rather than calling attention to their hygienic benefits, reports Gold.

Mudrooms are definitely back in vogue — places where people can decontaminate, removing dirty shoes or outerwear before coming into the house. And laundry areas have grown in importance, especially for their ability to include the pet component. Feeding stations, litter boxes, toys, beds, crates, grooming stations and storage for supplies are some of the uses they are expected to incorporate.

Supply challenge shortages, price increases, storm damage and other climate change impacts have driven up the costs and timeframe for new, rebuilt or improved homes, which means innovative thinking must take over. 3-D printing technology and concrete construction are two prominent examples.

“Technology leaders are looking at this issue and creating a single smart home standard, but whether this will come to fruition is unknown at this point,” says Gold. “The fact that global brands that work far beyond the home space want us to have such a standard may emerge as 2023’s top trend.”

Forbes, TBWS