Now that we’ve launched into 2021 with hopes for a far better year than the last, there are distinct trends in the luxury home design and remodeling sector that many are taking advantage of. I wanted to take a moment and share my view and experience on trends I feel may have value to homeowners looking to add value, efficiency and space to their homes through a full or partial home remodel and addition.
If you are a homeowner in Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Wellesley, Chestnut Hill, Newton, Brookline, Cambridge, Somerville, the South End or other select neighborhoods of Boston, it is likely you and your family are looking for potential design and planning options which shape your existing home to the ideal. These are prime areas of Boston in which home values have risen steadily over the past decades—many homeowners in these towns wish to convert their existing homes into a more functional and comfortable setting for 2021 and beyond.
I have found that as we evolve through this year, many professionals and families place a premium on the following aspects in a home as regards architectural design and remodeling in Boston.
1. SUFFICIENT AND WELL-PLANNED WORK-FROM-HOME SPACE:
A well-planned work-from-home space is golden in these times. I mean proper work-from-home space—not your wife’s walk-in closet nestled amongst an endless array of seemingly identical shoes. (Yes, we’ve all been there in these times.) In many cases this now means dedicated space to work from home without losing your mind—a properly designed and established office away from the collective noise, bustle and zoom calls of the rest of the family. In many family settings two dedicated offices are needed to accommodate the respective professional careers of each adult. With many companies pivoting to a work from home setting until well into 2021 and beyond, having dedicated home office space has become a necessity for many Boston professionals.
Accordingly, an increasing number of large corporations have embraced a work-from-home model or a hybrid arrangement. Case in point, Nationwide Insurance embraced a 98% work from home model at the beginning of last year when Covid hit and have since adopted a hybrid model.
I am not certain that the workplace will return to the large office format—if it does it’s very unclear when this would be. This experience with humanity has shown us that in many cases it is possible to move productivity forward at long range, with a full work-from-home model or a hybrid set up tailored to company performance and needs.
Major companies such as Wayfair, Google and Raytheon embraced the work from home model and have shown their companies can make it work and in fact flourish while doing so. Google has now pushed back its return to office plans until September and will be exploring a hybrid model.
Meanwhile, Facebook, Twitter and Square announced a permanent extension of their current work from home policies.
Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerburg considers remote work a growing trend as we navigate our way out of the pandemic. Zuckerburg predicts 50% of Facebook’s staff could be working remotely over the next 5-10 years.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey had been angling his tech giant on a work-from-home course prior to the pandemic. Covid-19 simply accelerated the matter—a captivating Washington Post headline read as follows:
“America might never come back to the office, and Twitter is leading the charge.”
According to Business Insider: “Following the pandemic, more than half of Americans want to continue working remotely, while two-thirds of companies may render their current work-from-home policies permanent.”
A large number of companies have announced remote work as part of their longer-term approach to production strategy.
Working from makeshift offices at home—closets, boot rooms, guestrooms and bedrooms has shifted as families look to the future and begin to plan and remodel permanent office space into their own homes.
It makes sense. As I write this, my administrative staff are currently working from home while our field staff ply their trades while following Covid protocols.
There are practical, aesthetic measures we take to plan such new spaces into existing homes. This is a beautiful whole-home design and remodel we did with a family home in Somerville which includes spacious home office space. www.nedesignbuild.com/portfolio/somerville-addition
2. HOME ADDITIONS AND ACCESSORY DWELLING UNITS:
These past 11 months have put incredible emphasis on an already increasing interest in multigenerational living—in so many ways and for so many reasons. The primary one being that for many families it simply makes sense in these times—for health, safety and well-being.
An Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) is the industry term–also known as an “In-Law Cottage.” It is defined by MassGov.com as follows:
“An ADU is a self-contained apartment in an owner-occupied single-family home/ lot that is either attached to the principal dwelling or in a separate structure on the same property.”
Some families are inclining towards the creation of flexible home additions that are multi-use—such as a set of home offices combined with a gym and workout space. Another option is an ADU for the in-laws combined with a built-in office and workout space. There are many options—but the point is to create efficiently-planned and highly useful space across a variety of family uses.
For anyone who is used to staying fit with a CrossFit box or gym membership, a home gym has become a necessity. There are many options on how to plan and craft a sizeable personal or family gym into a home addition.
3. SUSTAINABLY DESIGNED, HEALTHY AND SAFE HOMES:
Quite simply—with so much time being spent indoors, homeowners are now seeking healthier homes–with a clean air supply and generally more positive impact on the environment. Clean interior air, combined with natural materials and light are all major positives for the mind, body and soul when one is spending most of one’s waking (and sleeping) hours in the home.
A beautifully designed, spa-like master bath with reclaimed wood design elements, natural lighting and beautifully crafted stonework is calming after a day of dealing with—well everything. We are seeing families opt for full redesigns of their master suites along these lines.
Another focal area of the home many opt to redo in full is the kitchen. We seek to incorporate natural flowlines and innovative storage solutions into each kitchen space we design–combined with natural light and reclaimed wood beautiful, unique spaces are created that truly uplift.
This is one of our beautiful kitchen spaces from Cambridge. www.nedesignbuild.com/portfolio/cambridge-kitchen-remodel/
We’ve designed a beautiful and fully custom Passive House in Somerville for a family desiring the many health and environmental benefits provided by such—including significantly cleaner home air and a drastically reduced carbon footprint.
You can see an overview of this Passive House project, its benefits and planning here: www.nedesignbuild.com/passive-house/
PREDICTIONS—WHAT NOW BOSTON?
I anticipate an increase in activity in the city as we navigate these upcoming months. At the beginning of this pandemic many homeowners in the city pivoted to the suburbs or the Cape for their place of residence if they were able to do so.
I believe in the upcoming months many will be returning to the city or splitting time between the city and the suburbs. With vaccination confidence gaining momentum, the Downtown area and coveted hotspots like Back Bay, Beacon Hill and the South End will again hit their stride again as the year progresses.
Real Estate dynamo Ryan Serhant agrees: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ryanserhant/2021/12/30/has-the-covid-exodus-ended-buyers-are-flooding-back-to-these-3-major-cities/?sh=5960da274ab5
CEO NEDC Boston
https://www.theverge.com/2020/12/14/22175150/google-return-office-september-flexible-work-week-coronavirus-pandemic-sundar-pichai Mark Zuckerberg says half of Facebook’s staff to work from home within 10 years
All about ADUs (accessory dwelling units) https://www.mass.gov/service-details/smart-growth-smart-energy-toolkit-modules-accessory-dwelling-units-adu#:~:text=An%20ADU%20is%20a%20self,structure%20on%20the%20same%20property.