How well-being will transform the home

By Lisa Pilley, Dulux Trade Commercial Colour Consultant

The coronavirus outbreak has seen the nation focus on the home like never before. For many of us its role in our lives has been transformed.

No longer is it a place we leave in the morning only to return eight or more hours later. The home is where we now work, it’s where we educate our offspring, it’s where we reflect.

It is, in short, where we dwell.

The more time we spend inside our own four walls, the more we consider how we want this environment to function and what we want it to look like.

We’re also increasingly reflecting on the role gardens and shared outside spaces play in our lives.

This mirrors how, as a nation, our priorities are changing.

The impact of the pandemic has suddenly seen well-being - both physical and mental - become a primary concern for many.


Role of colour and design


But what role can design and colour play in responding to this shift? And what will that mean for homeowners, residents, developers and councils?

We’re expecting dramatic changes in the domestic colour palette - both for homeowners and those in the residential construction sector.

Choices will be less and less driven by fashion, with consumers more confident in their own decisions. The last time we saw behaviour like this was in the 1950s. That era saw housing standards dramatically improve, which in turn saw people take increasing control of how they wanted their homes to look.

And in an echo of many of the conversations as we leave lockdown - the fifties also saw an increased focus on the family and the work/life balance.

So, out go bold, brash, impactful colours. In come shades to wrap yourself in, that boost mood and increase your sense of well-being.


Dulux ColourFutures


The Dulux ColourFuturesTM 2020 Meaning palette, based around our Colour of the Year Tranquil DawnTM, perfectly supports this change.

Tranquil DawnTM is a versatile, soft green hue with a calming, restful quality, and the palette is designed to create a feeling of calm and contemplation.

The elemental shades can be used in spaces where people go to be free from distractions, pause and be in the moment - something we crave even more now. While the collection of soft greys will create awe-inspiring places that meet people’s desire for more meaning in their daily lives, aiding contemplation and opening them up to new levels of experience.

The colours also deliver an illusion of space and perspective, a nod to the biophilic design values that espouse the benefits of a greater connection to nature, natural materials and daylight, helping professionals to bring the outside in at a time when we’re desperate for a sense of escape.

The Meaning palette is both versatile and timeless, making it a superbly adaptable option for design professionals for a range of environments including residential homes.


Home working spaces


For many of us lockdown has meant the home is no longer solely somewhere we relax, play and raise a family, it has another function… where increasing amounts of us work, and will remain working.

Indeed many firms may never return to office-working, as recent months have proven that remote-working for complex people-heavy operations like call centres is quite possible - and preferable for many. This will play a significant role in the nation’s recovery.

Developers will therefore be expected to ensure the floorplans of new properties show dedicated and flexible home-working areas - in the same way recent years have seen home-buyers demand utility rooms.

To further facilitate this increasing dual function of a home, it’s likely future developments will make high broadband speeds and coverage a selling point.

This change will also drive an increase in colour-zoning. We’ll want spaces that are delineated more clearly - separating areas for working and those for relaxing. This will become particularly important in smaller or multi-occupancy homes where space is at more of a premium.

Less new properties will be handed over with every wall covered in the same off-white shade. We’ll see more colour creeping in.

Specifically, colour will be used to boost well-being - with a soothing palette to aid sleep in bedrooms, while more vivid shades will be used in kitchen and dining areas. These will come from a coordinated colour scheme making each area feel connected.

Economic factors will also have an impact on design choices. As we enter an inevitable downturn, consumers will be less confident in chopping and changing how their homes look. They’ll be more thoughtful about decisions: with money tighter, they will want to ensure they undertake projects they know they will want to live with for a long time.

Likewise, commercial developers will need to be mindful of longevity even more than before. Products like the Dulux Trade Diamond range, that can deliver long-last finishes that stand the test of time, will be vital.


Outdoor spaces


A perennial after-thought, outside spaces will take on increasing importance for home-buyers and owners. New-build developers will no longer be able to simply cover plots with lawn. They’ll have to meet expectations that these areas can function as another room where we can both entertain visitors in a safe manner - and work when conditions allow.

Colour can take centre stage here, alongside texture, planting and energy efficient heating systems. Gazebos, outdoor rugs and planting can make these spaces calming and productive.

The social housing sector will experience a similar change in focus. Its interiors will reflect the changes going on in the private sector with increased thought to home-working.

But the focus outside will be on how our changing requirements can be best served in a communal context. This is critical as many social housing residents have little or no access to their own outside space and at the same time many who are on a lower income have more limited leisure or home improvement options.

We would expect the changes to interiors we’re likely to see in the private sector to be mirrored here. Alongside that, specific outside areas with specific functions will be demarcated more clearly. There will be spaces for play and social interactions, alongside quiet spaces for work and contemplation.

That would immediately be seen in increasing amounts of covered areas, the planting of gardens rather than lawns and a boost to exterior Wi-Fi coverage.

The Cuprinol colour range can deliver bright playful contrasting pops of colour in communal garden areas to demarcate specific active areas. It also offers beautiful muted shades for quiet corners.

The role interior communal areas have in inspiring pride and a sense of belonging among residents will come into clearer focus. A design approach could be to add a little flourish of colour to entrance areas like hotel receptions - where dynamic colour and lighting schemes can combine to create a great first impression.

Lockdown has also seen communities coming together to grow more produce. We’d expect that to continue with an increase in wooden planting trugs and residents personalising individual planting areas with their favourite exterior hues.

Upcycling will continue - with paint giving a new look to old tyres used as veg planters and bang on trend pallet furniture where people can relax.

It has been shown that the creative use of outside space can provide a significant boost to the well-being of sheltered housing residents - particularly those with dementia.

Soothing havens like garden shelters, painted in calming sage green will provide protection from the elements, and colourfully painted band-stands that echo a bygone era can provide a joyous and therapeutic benefit.

A tired and unloved area can become a new social landscape for residents. Decking and colourful painted timber sheds can evoke a coastal theme, while a painted mural along an otherwise dull rendered wall can draw you into a scene which tells a story - such as a canal walk.

At the same time developers and town planners will be exploring how they can help communities interact with each other better. How environments can be brought to life though simple measures like painting fence panels black to make planting pop.

The way we all live is changing swiftly. Homes will look different as a result of our experiences in the past few months.

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