The pandemic is changing the way we think about how our homes should function

By Angie Kendel

Years ago I read a book called Cocooning by Faith Popcorn. In the early ’80s she identified a shift towards a society in which we insulate ourselves from the harsh realties of modern living.

Our homes would become the center of our world for work and play. Society would move towards a more insular existence where we would work from home, connected by electronics, but safe in our own little cocoon. Groceries, and everything we needed, would be ordered and delivered to our door. I read this book over 20 years ago!

I remember thinking, “What a futuristic societal model the author was hypothesizing!” Now, as I look at our current world situation, I cannot help but wonder how she could have been so accurate all those years ago! She has been named the “Trend Oracle” by the New York Times, as well as the “Nostradamus of Marketing”. Her theories are thought-provoking, years ahead of their time and bang on!

Now is the time to pay attention to the shift in how we adapt to the changes that COVID-19 has flung into our everyday lives. Things are changing fast and we need to keep up. Having now experienced something many of us thought we would never see in our lifetimes will have a lastly impact on how we do things in the future.

Home has always been a safe place, but we will see much more focus on the home and for many years to come. We have seen a trend in design towards more spa-like and luxurious features over the last decade or so. Our outdoor spaces have become “outdoor rooms” rather than just a simple deck or patio. We have home theatres and more extensive home gyms than we have had in past decades. Entertainment spaces for family and friends will continue to become a focus of many home renovations. Many of the renovations we have done over the last 5-10 years were already focused on better entertaining and better use of space for the family.

When consumers feel uncertainty in a market, they are reluctant to make big changes. However, they want to be comfortable if they are going to stay put. That is why it is so much more important to identify what doesn’t work in your current home and take the necessary steps to correct it.

Many who have self-isolated for the last few months are already looking at what they need to fix, improve, and make function better for work and family life to continue from the home. It is also
important to ensure those updates and functional spaces are addressed when selling.

Everyone is looking at homes in a different way. How will the home function for a home/work environment if we have to go back into isolation — or remain in isolation long term? Homes that function well with multiple work and play spaces will simply be more desirable; homes that allow family members to enjoy a space without too much interference from others if privacy is required. Putting funds into more functional spaces inside and outside will offer a good return on investment when it comes time to sell. 

Basic cosmetic updates will always have value for everyday living and for selling. However, functional improvements to a home are more important than a new coat of paint or new flooring.

A home that works well for a family for both work and play will be that much more appealing to buyers. School may end up happening at home more often. A space where technology allows easy communication and connection with remote learning facilities may become more common in homes. This was another prediction of Popcorn’s when she wrote her book all those years ago. These may be considerations we want to incorporate into the functional design aspects of our home renovations as we move forward.

Being on the cutting edge of a new wave of thinking will only open new doors as old doors close and old ways get left behind. 

Sustainability is also an important factor. Having a back-up power source, self-sustained heating options, reusability, etc. These may become more important in the design process as we move forward. 

I’m sure many people worried about what long-term isolation would mean and how that would affect the supply chain. Did anyone ever think we would see oil trading at below zero dollars a barrel? How do we design our homes to mitigate the effects?

I see design trends changing in the coming years. We will see more focus on multiple functions in the home for work and play. It’s time to read about the cocooning trend again. The future is here!

Angie can be reached at or