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L.A. Interior Design: What to Look for in a Post-COVID World

The design world, like the rest of the world, has been turned upside down over the past year. So many questions have surfaced:

  • Will this pandemic affect the interior design field? (Yes)

  • Will prevailing American ideas about “home” change? (Yes)

  • Does interior design really even matter in the grand scheme of things — in a world that’s suffering and enduring so much right now? (YES!)

Perched in the hills of Los Angeles, the Lovell Health House was design by Richard Neutra for naturopathic physician Dr. Philip Lovell. The home was created to to satisfy Dr Lovell’s obsession with health and wellness using large airy, sundrenched spaces. Photo courtesy of Dwell by Barcelo Photography Inc.

Over the past few months, these questions have cycled through conversation again and again as we seek to make sense of our new reality. And as we start to look forward, a new question emerges:

How will home design change in a post-pandemic world?

Because we know it will. We’re already seeing it. Homeowners need more from their homes now that they’re taking on so many new roles. That open floorplan you loved is getting less dreamy (and more claustrophobic) by the minute. Your guest room/gym/school/office/meditation space is getting real cramped.

And while some of these issues will resolve themselves as we return to a more familiar rhythm, I believe some interior design trends will shift and remain once the pandemic is over.

So what does this mean for our future? What residential interior design shifts will we see going forward?

The interiors of Neutra’s Lovell House are bathed in natural light due to its large walls of operable glass. Photo courtesy of Dwell by Barcelo Photography Inc.

A shift to wellness-focused interior design

While space and layout will undoubtedly shift (more on that in a minute), I believe we’ll see an increased focus on surfaces and technology that make our homes healthier.

Wellness-focused interior design isn’t a new principle. In fact, The Lovell House here in LA was designed and built nearly a hundred years ago with a primary focus of health and wellness. Its architecture features an abundance of windows for sunbathing, landscape brimming with fruit trees, and a kitchen specifically designed with Dr. Lovell’s vegan, raw food lifestyle in mind.

olid copper, brass, and bronze are naturally antimicrobial and kill bacteria and viruses within minutes. Photo by Meghan Beierle-O'Brien

So what architectural changes and design trends can we expect from our own post-pandemic world?

  • Smarter homes for optimal wellness — Just because you can’t see the technology, doesn’t

mean it’s not an important part of home design.

  • We now have access to tech that controls window shades and whole-house lighting to maximize sleep quality. Water systems that filter toxins and add vitamins for better skin and hair. Air filtration systems that optimize moisture levels, reduce allergens, remove mold, and kill germs. While this is obviously not replicable for every home and budget, I do think we can expect to see similar features gain mass appeal and application over the years.

  • Anti-viral and anti-microbial surfaces — Copper, brass, and bronze kill bacteria and viruses in minutes — including the novel strain responsible for COVID-19. It seems this particular virus is more likely to be transmitted through the air. But, it begs the question: why aren’t high-traffic surfaces like doorknobs and cabinet hardware made out of these materials? I think we’ll see more of it in the coming years.

  • Touchless technology — Already gaining popularity, touchless faucets and toilets are a rather simple piece of tech that we’ll see much more in the future of residential design.

Residential interior design is about so much more than creating homes that simply look pretty.

Our job as designers is to create spaces that support our clients holistically, from form and function to health and wellness.

Post-pandemic interior design and architecture

Perhaps the biggest interior design shifts will show up in floor plans and space design. That’s because we’ve seen firsthand how a home designed for entertaining just doesn’t work as an office, school, and gym. We need rooms with actual walls. Ones that can better adapt to a range of uses.

Future floor plans will include more flex spaces. For example, what was the playroom can also be a classroom, an art studio, and a performance space. This isn’t just about the designation, but about thoughtful design.

A guest room with a desk in the corner isn’t really a functional home office. But, if that guest room is designed with a Murphy bed flanked by built-in storage for office supplies and tech, the space can serve two functions really well. Well-designed flex spaces can easily transition from one use to another, depending on what you need at the time.

We can also expect to see more alcoves and small spaces with pocket doors or partitions. These spaces are ideal for reading, meditation, or a spot to take a quick FaceTime call away from the noise of kids and pets. Finally, future designs will have an increased focus on outdoor living spaces. Well-designed outdoor spaces take advantage of the LA climate so we can live more of our lives outside. We all pay a premium to live in this incredible place! More than just pools and gardens, our outdoor living areas should be leveraged for working out, meditating, and sharing meals.

An extension of the home’s great room, this covered patio not only has a knockout view but acts as sitting area, outdoor dining room and blissful meditation space. Photo by Meghan Beierle-O'Brien

My prediction for the future of luxury interiors: home design will be more about amenities and less about stuff.

And I'm comfortable make this educated guess because, honestly it's already happening - and was before the pandemic began.

William Morris, a beloved 19th-century craftsman, artist, and designer (and, fun fact, one of the founding members of the socialist movement) is famous for his design motto: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” (Sound a little like Marie Kondo, right?)

This is a phrase I use with clients a lot. It helps distill down to the heart of what’s important in home design. And it helps eliminate a lot of unnecessary ‘extras’ to really focus on creating a design that’s life-giving, restorative, and functional in the years to come.

These days, the world is realizing that interior design is so much more than selecting paint colors and styling bookshelves — that it has the power to drastically improve our emotional, mental, and physical health.

Until next time,


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