What’s a practical pandemic home? Find out from this forum

Interior designers and architects envision the ultimate ideal abode fit for these times

The world is our home. Today, the home is our world. 

For years, man was encouraged to explore, conquer, and to reach the world’s end. In the past few months, man was forced to stop, to stay still, and linger at home. 

There is no other time in modern history when the majority of the human population is sequestered at home. When Covid-19 started ravaging the human body, it knew no race, economic status, or social position. One of the best “defenses” against the virus is the one we have at home—the house we live in, the structure made of steel, stone, wood, and glass. All these elements serve as a barrier to an unseen enemy, which floats innocently in the air and arrives with no warning. 

One of the best ‘defenses’ against the virus is the one we have at home—the house we live in, the structure made of steel, stone, wood, and glass.

If we would be spending more time at our homes and staying at its premises until God-knows-when, how could we make it more ready and livable? After almost four months of seeing the same wall, same furniture, or same bedroom, it is now time for some changes. Even though you love your home dearly, a few fixes here and there can revitalize its spaces, brighten the atmosphere, and make quarantine more bearable.  

OPEN AND GREEN Home experts agree that an ideal post-pandemic home is one that brings nature inside

Ten interior designers and architects share with Manila Bulletin Lifestyle their take on what design trends they foresee in post-pandemic homes. They also reveal tips on how homeowners can start enhancing their homes, even without undergoing a major renovation.   

Mauro J. Nepomuceno, Jr.: 'I see the concept of 'biophilia' being adapted by people.'

People have been so used to annual “visual” design trends (like Nordic, Industrial, etc.) for so long that a lot have forgotten what interior design really is—it’s beyond aesthetics and its main goal is to uplift or upgrade the end-user’s life, especially when it comes to homes. The pandemic showed us the value of our homes since most of us observed quarantine. I believe that wellness would be a top priority for homeowners in the new normal. I also see the concept of “biophilia” being adapted by a lot of people—abundance of plants and vegetation would be seen in homes.—MAURO J. NEPOMUCENO, JR., principal designer, MN Design Studio

Homeowners would become more conscious of utilizing space efficiently for work and play. For example, online selling is booming so home-based industries would also rise. Homes would allocate spaces for inventory, product styling, and photography. At the same time, homeowners would be mindful of cleanliness. The pandemic has taught us that a clean home is also a safe home. High-end furniture or expensive decor are all useless if you live in an environment that’s not conducive for health and wellbeing.—MONET MANZO, freelance interior designer  

We would see more family-focused homes that promote relaxation and bonding between family members. Moms may opt for a bigger and better kitchen for home-cooked meals. Homeowners would prioritize bigger gardens instead of bigger parking spaces. Walls may give way to windows so that natural light can come in.—CHRISTINE MANALO-VILLAMORA, founder and principal designer, CMV Interior Designs 

SAFETY FIRST A mud room may become a standard feature for new homes
(Photo courtesy of C. Villamora)

For projects in the new normal, homeowners would be requesting designs that can accommodate home school and working areas. Thus, demand for multifunctional items may also increase, like coffee table to kids work table, kitchen island counter that doubles as a work or computer area, and beds with multiple storage. Factors like light and ventilation, efficiency of functional window coverings, and improvement of key spaces would also come into play.—RANDY CRISPINO, principal architect, Crispino+Architects

People want to change their lives by starting with their homes. Design is something that would help with their mood even during lockdown. There would be a demand for homes that are more airy, relaxing, and cozy. Homeowners want to feel alive, not feel like they are prisoners at their own home. I suggest wide open spaces or plans with light finishes, accents that are personal to the client, and decors that resonate life and fun. Spaces should also prioritize what’s essential to every inhabitants’ needs and wants. Personalize the home based on hobbies and lifestyle of each member. You can add an activity area (for hobbies), work area, Zen area, reading nook, sanitation area, prayer room, yoga or gym, etc. These spaces would help lessen the psychological impact of the prolonged lockdown. Most of all, establish a tambayan area or chill space where family members can bond, relax, or have fun together.—DIANNE M. VERSOZA, proprietor and principal interior designer, VRSO Interiors

Vincent T. Lim: 'Gardens may not be an afterthought, but a must-have amenity.'

People now realize the value of having plants, gardens, and greens inside the home, regardless of the size of your space. The Covid-19 crisis has pushed the promotion of plants to the forefront. In the new normal, we may see a lot of garden renovation needs, vegetable gardening requirements, and more demand for tabletop or indoor plants for home office setups. We have always encouraged homeowners to make room for green spaces. This time, these gardens may not be an afterthought, but a must-have amenity.”—VINCENT T. LIM, landscape architect and founder, Clarq Design Studio

The health pandemic forced a lot of us to stay and work from home. When you spend a lot of time working, it is practical to have a work space that’s “separated” from the rest of the home. Install sound-proof walls or sound-insulation foams to avoid background noise during online calls. And since it would be inevitable someday to receive visitors, it would be a practical option to purchase sanitizing gadgets or machines.—JENOVA M. TAN, freelance interior designer 

In the coming months, comfort and aesthetics would play an even more important role in home interiors, especially since people now realize that this pandemic wouldn’t be over so soon. With this, we see people preferring homes with bigger spaces as opposed to condo units. Gardens, terraces, and rooftops would become “prime” amenities as these open spaces would become the refuge for those who are mostly confined in their own homes.—JASMINE ANCHETA, founder and principal interior designer, Jas Ancheta Interiors

DUAL PERSONALITY Living spaces must be functional yet playful at the same time

Homes that are more airy would become practical in the new normal. Proper ventilation promotes quality air to flow through space. It allows fresh air to constantly replace indoor air, and expel harmful gases and contaminants, which may contain any virus. With strategically located openings, high ceilings, and proper orientation, homes would welcome the natural elements. Thus, homeowners would benefit from natural daylight, fresh air, and lower utility bills.—JM DE JESUS, architect

Pandemics have a history of shaping and re-shaping how we live and this also translates to how we would be designing our spaces. We see a lot of homeowners incorporating foyers, mudrooms, and other transition spaces. These spaces are key in keeping viruses at bay and from entering into the main areas of the house. We also believe that a lot of homeowners now have a profound appreciation for well-designed spaces as the pandemic obliged us to stay indoors. This has given us a lot of time to look at our spaces and evaluate how we can make it better. One of the ways to make spaces better is by rearranging furniture. The pandemic has brought about new habits and routines (like working from home, for example). After decluttering, furniture can be rearranged to better suit the current needs and activities.—DSG Design Studio