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Home Design Trends – From the Humble Desk to the Integrated Home Office

Remote working, hybrid working, work-life balance, and life balance; are all terms that entered our consciousness in recent years, but ones that were rapidly accelerated into the mainstream as workplaces changed with the pandemic.

And with such a rapid change in the types of workplaces we use, our team is seeing the home office transformed from an occasional desk or kitchen table into thoughtfully designed ergonomic offices packed with technology and ergonomic features that support the transformation of work.

Inertia’s Housing Lead, Jed Michel has seen the rapid pace of change in what clients want from their home offices as he has delivered innovative design solutions to support changes in the way we work.

“It’s a bit like the transformation of Zoom backgrounds,” says Jed, “When we first had remote meetings, we were being invited into our colleague’s homes, often for the first time. People’s workspaces were a little bit haphazard, but that changed. Today it’s no longer joining a remote meeting in whatever space you can find, many of the spaces we see look like they are straight out of an interior design magazine. And we are seeing more and more clients investing in dedicated office designs that are a key part of their home, not just a tacked-on addition.”

“Without a doubt, the post-pandemic era has influenced housing plans, and with an increased need for alternate working arrangements, a lot more thought is put into extending the design from a small nook to a larger, more intentional space as people are spending more time at home.”

It isn’t just changes to the typical home office that we are seeing, there is also a move to integrate the office into the home, as homeowners recognise the value of a connected space that is designed to be a place where you actively want to spend time.

“We are seeing a real shift towards creating green, open environments by bringing the outside in. Workspaces are soaked in natural light, overlooking leafy landscaped gardens through glazed windows. Internal garden beds filling otherwise empty spaces below staircases and large open living areas that are connected to nature are priority when developing initial ideas.”

As the team deliver more and more stunning homes for our clients, Jed has identified some of the key features and trends to look out for.

“Important design features for a productive office setup are functionality and space with plenty of organisational tools, storage and technology. It’s common to see dual screens and user-friendly stand-up desks. Office designs vary, depending on the tasks being done; some require more desk area to allow them to paint, draw and move around while the needs of another who works mostly online are centred around the computer setup and integrated technology.”

“We are seeing innovative design strategies such as creative storage and smart home technology to create more functionality in the office and other areas of the home. People are wanting to be more connected and most new builds are ‘smart homes’ having connectivity between media devices in all rooms. This enables a virtual meeting to be taken in the office or the living room and have it displayed on the TV or computer screen in either space.”

So, what should homeowners consider when looking to integrate an office into their homes in the future?

“I envisage more thought being put into the functionality, the outlook and the size of the home office in the future. As people spend more time working from home, this room will become one of the most frequented areas and therefore, more thought is needed to make it an appealing space to be in.”

“While there is a desire for an open and collaborative living space, most people want the separation of the office and the rest of the house, otherwise, they find it hard to switch off after each session. Typically, the home office is its own room that can be shut off at the end of the day or when privacy is required for meetings.”

Therefore, as in all aspects of design, good design will always strike an appropriate balance for the users so that space and use of space don’t dominate lifestyle; it actively encourages the homeowner to balance their need to get the job done and to enjoy their new lifestyle.

“We are becoming more conscious of self-care and the importance of physical and emotional health, so people are invested in creating varying spaces that contribute to wellbeing. Home designs are focused on providing exclusive spaces within the home; such as office, living, retreat, outdoor and relaxation to achieve this balance. Architects will often link the layout together in an open-plan setting so that it’s not just a hallway with doorways to different rooms. We see more half-height walls, sunken lounges, bookshelves and garden beds to create distinct spaces without using walls, which can close off areas.”

“The trends currently geared towards remote work and telecommuting will continue to impact the design of future homes. As the pandemic has shifted our concept of normal, we expect to see the emphasis being placed on the home office space and the overall design of homes catering to the needs of a work/play/rest balance by including outdoor spaces, back patios with fireplaces, pools and gardens, where people can escape from the internal living without leaving their property,” said Jed.