Beatrice is the Consumer Trends Expert for Opendoor.
There’s no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has had a massive impact on Americans and our lifestyles in 2020. Many of us are working and learning from home, cooking more, finding a love of the outdoors and even tackling at-home workouts — all of which influence how we design, use and appreciate our homes.
Whether you’re looking to update your current home, buy a new home or sell your home, these five predictions are worth paying attention to in 2021.
1. High-quality kitchens will top homebuyers’ wishlists.
In real estate, we often say kitchens and bathrooms sell homes — and that rings especially true now. With people spending much more time at home, kitchens are more than just a space for people to cook together; they’re a central place to hang out and are usually one of the most heavily trafficked areas in a house.
In fact, in a recent Hunter survey, 54% of respondents are cooking more than they did pre-pandemic and that 75% have become more confident in the kitchen; 51% said they will continue to cook more even after the pandemic.
So it’s not a huge surprise people are investing more in their kitchen. Data from Houzz shows kitchen remodels jumped more than 40% in June 2020 over the last year. If you’re considering a kitchen upgrade, I suggest avoiding shiny knobs and hardware and keeping it simple. Remember, less is more. A minimalist kitchen will also look much less cluttered when you have all of your gadgets and cookware out. I personally designed my kitchen without any hardware, which gives it a clean and sleek look. Plus, it helps you avoid fingerprints.
As 2020 brought out the chefs and bread bakers within us, I expect to see higher-quality kitchens top homebuyers’ wishlists.
2. Extra bedrooms will become legitimate home offices.
Though the pandemic accelerated a massive rise in remote work this year, many companies are proposing a long-term work-from-home option that indicates the trend is here to stay.
Now in need of a dedicated workspace and strong WiFi connection at home for the foreseeable future, many people have begun fully transforming their extra bedrooms or unused guest rooms. Temporary couch or kitchen table setups aren’t cutting it anymore. After all, working from home isn’t much fun when your back starts aching. A comfortable office space can also help remote workers establish clearer boundaries between their job and personal life.
3. Decluttering and finding extra space for organization will be a priority.
Whether you’re tidying up a spare-bedroom-turned-office for videoconference calls or cleaning out a closet, the pandemic inspired many people to declutter with more time spent at home this year.
In doing so, homeowners have realized organized spaces can help boost their productivity and creativity, while reducing stress and anxiety. It’s fitting that organizers like Marie Kondo and The Home Edit are having a major pop culture moment.
And because of this, homebuyers will prioritize more space for storage purposes. I predict bigger pantry rooms, which can help store food in bulk, and deeper closets, which can be used as functional spaces, will rank high as desirable home features for buyers in 2021.
4. Enjoying the great outdoors is here to stay.
Social distancing inspired many of us to rediscover a love for nature and finally put our decks and patios to good use. Even more, our own Opendoor survey of 480 respondents showed that wanting more space is a top reason why many people, especially those living in cities and/or with young families, have moved this year.
Perfect for socially distanced hangouts with family and friends, having outdoor space also makes it possible to get a change of scenery without leaving your property. I believe we’ll see backyards, patios and garden space, as well as outdoor entertainment areas, continue to rise in popularity in 2021.
5. Homes will evolve into retreats.
Though personal pools or home gyms may have seemed a bit luxurious before 2020, making our homes feel like a safe sanctuary has proved to be much more practical with stay-at-home mandates and social distancing recommendations. In June, Houzz shared that searches for pool and spa professionals were up three times over the same time frame in 2019. A July survey showed that nine out of 10 adults who exercise regularly say they plan to continue at home workouts post-pandemic. With gym closures across Los Angeles, I’ve witnessed the indoor bike craze firsthand, and for those who don’t have the space for a bike, rowing machine or larger equipment, a yoga mat, jump-rope and small set of weights are enough to tackle a home workout.
I predict many people will continue to be cautious about shared amenities like pools and gyms for years to come, and buyers will prioritize homes with areas for at-home workouts or outdoor space for activities.
Forbes Real Estate Council is an invitation-only community for executives in the real estate industry. Do I qualify?