Our dwellings have become our whole world: shelter, workplace and protection from the virus. Even for those not in extended lockdowns in 2020-21, Covid has forged a shift in priorities which will shape not only Australian housing, but families and communities.Today, we launch a four-part series, At Home in 2022.In the coming weeks we will look at: The New Family: multigenerational living and a shift in our approach to aged care; The New Community: emotional investment in our neighbourhood and local friendships;and The New Technology: how innovation goes beyond smart homes to support sustainable living. Now, we’re looking at The New Home itself and how everyday living is shaping interior design and decor, rather than fashion trends. A national survey commissioned for At Home reveals 56 per cent of people now prefer to be tucked up indoors rather than out on the town. Almost 40 per cent of people are cooking more and 51 per cent are more interested in managing their money and household budgets. The Evolution of the Home survey reveals 75 per cent of us are more on top of chores and life admin tasks, 61 per cent have more ‘me’ time and 45 per cent now have more time with our kids.Much has been written this year about the end of open plan living but it’s not that cut and dry.The home of 2022 is shaped by a more mindful approach to spaces that meet our needs and for some, like the Moore family, opening up the kitchen area was life-changing.‘PLAYFUL’ HOMES ARE THE NEW AUSSIE TRENDOne Covid silver lining, says Relationships Australia NSW chief executive Elisabeth Shaw, is that we’re valuing relationships more. “There’s a focus on community and looking after each other,” she says. And we want our homes and backyards to facilitate these nurturing connections, says architect Rob Mills. “People are commissioning me to design and build houses that are much more playful, where families can eat together, play cards, games, talk, share the internet,” says Rob.“We do those things together more often if our space is designed for them. Instead of wasting acres of space on a two-storey entry with dual staircase, people want to use that space to live in.” MAKING THE MOST OF WORKING AND STUDY FROM HOMEWorking from home became the norm in 2020.A survey from Redback Connect found that nearly 90 per cent of us want it to stay that way, at least some of the time.This means our home offices need to be much more than just an afterthought.The Evolution of the Home study reveals more than one third of people still don’t have enough separate spaces for work, study or leisure and this desire is the driving factor for 50 per cent of people looking for a new property. “With a little bit of thought, you can create studies that are a pleasure to work in,” says Rob. “We’re all looking for space with acoustic separation from the rest of the house, privacy, and that also allows us to have associates come to the house from time to time.”HOME HEALTH WITH ENHANCED BIOSECURITY MEASURESRob is already designing high-end homes with enhanced biosecurity measures.“People want drop-off boxes so you don’t have to cross paths with a delivery person,” he says.“Intercoms are also likely to become contactless, so everyone’s not touching the same buttons.”In apartment buildings, he says, elevators and other public spaces are already being designed with regular air changes.“We’ll also have heat sensors that take people’s temperatures at the intercom. If someone’s got a temperature and they haven’t just been exercising, you’ll know there’s a problem,” he says. Healthy materials are also a consideration. “We make sure we have no toxins, VOCs and we choose natural materials like wool instead of synthetic carpet,” says Rob.MAKING HOME LIVING MORE SELF SUFFICIENTWhen the pandemic began, many of us instinctively retreated to activities that spoke to a simpler time: remember all that bread baking and knitting?We may have ditched the sourdough, but many of us still want our homes to reflect that more back-to-basics way of life.“I think a lot of people are finding that they’re enjoying looking after their own nests,” says Elisabeth. Rob adds there’s a swing toward homes with gardens that provide sanctuary and food, as well as sustainable energy supplies such as solar panels and even wood-fired ovens.He’s currently designing a house with a natural swimming pool fed by a natural artesian well. “We’re all changing our views, and thinking a lot more carefully about what we want our homes to be,” says Rob.“Basically what people want is a place to enjoy, to nurture and to live life.” WE WILL CRAVE HARMONY AND CONSISTENCY IN 2022After a couple of years living in a Covid fear bubble and uncertainty with several Australian states going in and out of lockdown, 2022 is shaping up to be the year where we crave harmony and consistency in our lives. The Moore family are certainly looking to the new year with optimism, having renovated the family home to become their private oasis.Janyne Moore, and her husband, ABC sports broadcaster Andrew Moore, and kids, Archie, 15, and Eliza, 13, had lived in their family home for more than a decade.The kitchen was the weakest link and was far from being ‘the heart of the home’, making shared family time difficult. Anju Designs was tasked with creating a family-focused layout that would provide a bubble, far away from the substantial upheaval occurring in the outside world. “Previously the kitchen was in a room that was blocked off from most of the living areas, but now in the open plan living, it is a central point to all living and outdoor areas downstairs,” says Janyne.“Now we play a board game after dinner every night as a family, which came about because a kitchen cupboard that is next to the dining area is a designated games cupboard making it top of mind and easy for someone to grab the game without much effort.“Before the renovation this wasn’t a thing and I wonder if it is because the games were in another room and out of sight’?”An extensive kitchen upgrade has also made a big impact in how the family will live in 2022.“Never before in my life did I understand the impact a tap could have. The Meir tap has a pressure option. It cleans my stained oven dishes in seconds … normally I’d have to soak overnight. “Also, the Zip tap enables the children to fill their water bottles with iced filtered water at any time and I can fill mine with sparkling water which I love.“I thought initially it was a luxury, but now after using it every day it is an essential.” While Janyne trusted Anju Designs with making all the choices, she admits she was sceptical about the need for two ovens – a large one in the main kitchen and a steam oven in the butler’s pantry. “I couldn’t live without both of them now. We use both most nights as I’ll steam the veges and roast the meat in the conventional oven, heat up the croissants at breakfast, they are crisp and delicious unlike the microwave sogginess, and it’s getting me out of my cooking comfort zone. I’ve even made yoghurt from scratch in the steam oven,” she says.
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