Health and hygiene in the home – How kitchen and bathroom design will be transformed in a post-COVID 19 reality

Hygiene is now a top priority for KBB designers across both the commercial and domestic markets. We look at the ways in which Covid-19 is likely to impact interior design…

The world is now different to that in which we lived in at the beginning of 2020. The pandemic we’ve faced and the consequent changes to our lifestyles, such as increased hand washing and staying home, are going to have a significant impact on kitchen and bathroom design. More than ever in living memory, our homes really are our castles – fortresses against viruses designed to keep us and our families safe and healthy.

Hygiene

Grohe has seen unprecedented demand for its touchless infra-red taps since the beginning of 2020 and sales of shower loos, touchless flush plates, and more hygienic surface materials are also predicted to soar in the home setting, where hygiene is now a top priority for everyone.

Grohe Bau Cosmo E infra-red basin tap

The German brand has specialised in the healthcare, hospitality and commercial sector for many years, where hygiene-optimised products are already far more commonplace. So, it is braced for the vast changes ready to hit the mass marketplace.

“With our wide range of touchless and hands-free products, we at Grohe have the right response to the increased need of hygiene in sensitive areas such as kitchens and bathrooms”, says Jonas Brennwald, CEO LIXIL Water Technology EMENA, Deputy CEO Grohe AG. “Currently, we can say that we are already experiencing a higher demand for our hygiene enhancing products – from both our private and business customers.”

Washlet Shower Toilet by Toto

Coen van Oostrom, Founder and CEO of EDGE, a company that specialises in developing a new generation of buildings that focus on the health of people and the planet, adds. “Together with sustainability, health will define the way we build and design homes, offices and places where people meet. Touchless products and speech-driven technology will play a key role in making healthy and safe homes and offices. Consumers will want to minimise contact to surfaces as much as possible”.

As well as touchless taps and sanitaryware, major appliances that promote better hygiene are likely to grow in popularity too. Dishwashers and washing machines that have sanitize cycles have been the norm in the healthcare and hospitality sectors for a long time, will start to be seen more often in the domestic setting.

LG F4V909BTS washing machine

Dishwashers with sanitize functionality weren’t as easy to find as washing machines but Fisher & Paykel’s Integrated Double DishDrawer™ Dishwasher has a whole host of functions, including Sanitize, which promises to kill 99.9% of bacteria.

Fisher & Paykel Integrated Double DishDrawer dishwasher

Many of LG’s washing machines include LG’s Steam⁺™ technology, which creates a disinfecting steam that sanitises clothing and removes up to 99.9% of allergens.

Appliances, fixtures and fittings which are easiest to clean are also likely to be most popular now hygiene is such a high priority. So sleek handle-less cabinets might grow in popularity once more and we can expect to see a rise in demand for completely non-porous, hardwearing and even anti-microbial work surfaces. Hardwearing paints and plaster finishes might be specified more regularly for walls as they can better withstand heavy duty cleaning.

Food storage

In the two weeks leading up to lockdown in the UK, sales of freezers soared as homeowners began panic-buying food, fearing that shops might sell out and also worried that they might soon be entirely confined to their homes.

On the 10th March the BBC reported that freezer sales for AO.com jumped 200% year-on-year the previous week while Wednesday 4th March was its third highest sales day ever.

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Meanwhile, department store chain John Lewis said it had seen “a substantial uplift in freezer sales”.

While that spike in sales lasted for just those few weeks in March, it’s likely that in a post-COVID reality, homeowners are going to continue to make fewer trips out to the supermarket, preferring to do a big shop once or twice a month so extra freezer capacity will be essential. Homeowners are likely to purchase primary fridge freezers with more space inside, and/or an additional freezer for the garage.

Siemens iQ700 French door fridge-freezer. Clad in sleek black glass, it has a two-drawer freezer (67 litres) and full-width 279-litre fridge

With people shopping less often and growing their own food, storage more generally will become a bigger priority as it’s likely that homeowners will prefer to keep surfaces clutter-free too. We can expect to see more pantries specified for example, as well as hidden storage for pots, pans and utensils.

Pantry from the Relaxed range at Life Kitchens

Self-sufficiency and outdoor life

With shop shelves running empty and supply chains disrupted during the pandemic, we now realise that our food supply is limited. Many of us with outside space have become more inclined to grow our own fruit and vegetables to become a little more self-sufficient. During lockdown all across Europe people have had much more time to tend their gardens and veg patches, or to enjoy their allotments.

This is likely to continue and we’re likely to see a greater appreciation of our gardens more generally, partly because we’re going to be less inclined to travel away from home or eat out as often in a post-Covid-19 reality.

As a consequence, kitchen design will be increasingly focused on bringing the outside in with expanses of glass taking the place of walls which open up into garden space. Kitchens and gardens will be better geared for entertaining friends at home and so homeowners will be more inclined to invest in high quality and smart appliances which make cooking and entertaining easier.

Kitchen from the Summerville collection in Meadowsweet at Tom Howley

In keeping with the outdoor theme, we will see earthy tones, greens and in particular, serene blues continue to dominate interior spaces.

In addition, utility rooms which offer space away from the main kitchen to get cleaned up after a muddy afternoon in the garden will become more prevalent. So, as well as the usual laundry appliances, there will be a sink or even two as well as storage for muddy boots and shoes – so homeowners can avoid bringing germs into the home.

Utility room concept using Memory FM R 15 furniture in Nogero and Power HL White by Rotpunkt

Some designers are also predicting the return of a sink in the vestibule or entrance hall, where those entering the house can wash their hands – though in UK homes we might be more likely to encourage guests to use the cloakroom WC for this purpose. Delineated areas/ lobbies to entrance halls for ‘outside clothes and shoes’ to be removed and stored will also be requested more frequently. Talking to Homes & Gardens magazine, interior designer Katharine Pooley notes that while this has been common in Asia for some time, it’s likely to become the new European norm.

Brandt Design used its own Heritage Furniture and Black American Walnut bench top to create this utility room. Appliances by Miele, and the period-style Vicus Tap is by Blanco

All good for KBB designers?

As homeowners look to improve their homes, KBB designers, retailers and manufacturers will inevitably benefit. Spending less cash on foreign holidays and eating out will mean that homeowners are much more likely to want to invest in updating their kitchens and bathrooms.

And although some areas such as housebuilding and commercial building might suffer with any recession resulting from this tumultuous time, many private projects that have been postponed or stalled due to Coronavirus can now tentatively begin again and those independent retailers who are most savvy and skilled will be best placed to reap the rewards.

 

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