Mad About . . .

2020: How our homes and habits have changed

17th November 2020
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This year has been so momentous in terms of changes to our lifestyles that everyone is doing surveys to find out what we are all thinking and doing and how we are spending our money. Listeners to the podcast will know I love a statistic, so today I thought I’d share the highlights from a round up of recent reports that have landed in my inbox. Some of them will be more surprising than others; from the fact that a house with three children now has more than 20 internet-connected devices to the fact that between March and June nearly one million of us (including me) downloaded the Couch to 5K app. Read on for more.

Original BTC - Hector medium dome clip light with red cotton braided flex - home office lighting - lifestyle - Portrait

office in an alcove with lighting by original btc hector medium dome cllp light with red cotton flex

It will probably come as no surprise to learn from the WGSN report that the future is home. Driven by consumers’ increased time spent in residence, and accelerated by the global coronavirus pandemic, new priorities are emerging around how consumers will shape their spaces and spend their time and resources, including investing in more sustainable, flexible, and emotion-driven products and systems. The research also finds evolving consumer attitudes to comfort and safety, advances in home AI and automation, and the need for radical climate adaptation across architecture and interior design says the The Future of Home report, which looks at emerging trends for the next 10 years. It found that conscious consumption will continue to grow, but that open-source and hands-on design techniques will make their way into the home. Craft and DIY will be key, for both creativity and for mindfulness, and consumers will be able to make and remake objects, recycling and reprinting their resources into new items or styles on-demand.

home office under the eaves via the modern house

home office under the eaves via the modern house

“Brands must explore what home will mean to their consumer,” said Lisa White, Creative Director and Director of WGSN Lifestyle & Interiors. “In the private space sector, home is now considered a sanctuary. We see an increase in demand for soft, reassuring and tactile products.

“In the public space arena, we’re tracking how consumers expect these environments to feel like homes away from home.”

the loft studio at madaboutthehouse.com

the loft studio at madaboutthehouse.com

2 Grow-your-own systems will be central to kitchens and across living spaces, as consumers look to increase their self-sufficiency and bring their diets closer to home. Beyond rows of micro herbs, consumers will be growing mushrooms, cultivating algae and keeping their own personal ‘digesters’ of microbes, which can then fertilise waste and provide heat and energy sources for the home. Radically natural biomaterials will be used to create homewares – from plant-based leathers to ‘hempcrete’ furniture.

This feels like a long way away from life at the moment but the report is meant to carry through to 2030 so who knows what changes will occur.

Kate Watson-Smyth looks at the ideas for working from home. This office space doubles up as dressing table in a modern monochrome scheme. #homeoffice #madaboutthehouse #monochrome

office space that doubles up as dressing table via @anita.mackenzie

Now a new report from Aviva – How We Live – examines a number of different aspects of our lives in these times: our homes, our living arrangements, our careers, how we get around, our leisure time and our hopes for the future. It looks at how our attitudes and behaviours have changed over the course of the year and considers the potential legacy of recent events.

3 it found that 85 per cent of UK residents have undertaken some form of home improvement during lockdown with one in 10 homeowners (9 per cent) believing their house has now increased in value since the Coronavirus outbreak.

office in a cupboard by 2lg studio

office in a cupboard by 2lg studio  authors of Making Living Lovely

4 Lockdown ruled that people should stay at home where possible, meaning that for many residents, work and school lessons took place under their own roofs. As a result, millions of people bought new equipment to help them to work and teach efficiently. Computer equipment, office furniture, stationery and educational equipment became – quite literally – the orders of the day. In addition, many households splashed out on toys and exercise equipment in order to keep themselves and their families occupied and healthy while they were being asked to stay at home.

Overall, 62 per cent of households made these so-called ‘extraordinary’ purchases as a result of lockdown. Nearly a  quarter of us (23 per cent) carried out home improvements typically costing around £326 (this was paint or non-office furniture) while 26 per cent of us spent around £400 on office equipment and £330 on office furniture, and a further nine per cent bought telephone equipment, such as new mobiles or headsets, at a cost of around £400.

my first home office image by James Balston

Two thirds (67 per cent) of UK adults say that technology has become more important to their households since the Covid-19 outbreak.

5 Although some households have undoubtedly spent more than others, when taken as an average, the typical cost per home of extraordinary lockdown purchases is £435. Across all 27.8 million UK households, this adds up to a staggering figure of over £12 billion. And, since this was a report by an insurance company, the codicil is, if this includes you, check if you need to update your contents cover.

6 When it comes to working from home eight per cent of us adapted a room to allow exercise from home too. And while many of these arrangements may have been intended as a short-term measure originally, a recent study found that almost half of workers (45 per cent) expect to work flexibly after lockdown ends and 81 per cent plan to work remotely at least one day per week.

7 But will our jobs change? Aviva spoke to 4000 people and found that more than half of workers – 53 per cent – plan to make changes to their careers in the next 12 months as a direct result of the Coronavirus pandemic. The most popular career aspiration emerging from the crisis is the desire for flexibility. More and more people have got used to working from home during lockdown, and this is likely to become a popular request to employers or even a deal-breaker for some employees. One in 10  said that in the next 12 months, they aim to find a role which will allow them to work from home.

8 The average UK home now has 12.1 internet-enabled devices, an increase of 17 per cent since December 2019 when the average number was 10.3 items. A similar study carried out by Aviva in January 2017, revealed UK homes typically housed just 8.2 such devices. A home with three children will average more than 20 internet devices.

string shelves in the home of Nathalie Aubry

string shelves in the home of Nathalie Aubry

9 Almost half of the nation’s adults (45 per cent) have tried new hobbies in 2020, with baking, walking and gardening topping the list. Time at home saw families turning to traditional pursuits, such as board games and jigsaws, while the closure of gyms meant that many swapped indoor fitness for outdoor, taking up cycling and running.

In June 2020, Public Health England reported that more than 858,000 people had downloaded the Couch to 5K app between March and the end of June – a 92 per cent increase from the same period in 2019. And that includes me. And I can officially tell you, having got to the end of week seven, that I hate running. I have now bought an exercise bike. Which was very expensive but I love it. And so does The Mad Husband.

home office soft neutrals via @mark_lewis_i_d image by rory gardiner @arorygardiner

home office via @mark_lewis_i_d image by rory gardiner @arorygardiner

10 A survey by Checkatrade found that  following the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak’s,  announcement of a temporary Stamp Duty Holiday in June, 14 per cent of Britons said they were planning to buy a new house and a third of those buyers said they would spend the money (an average of £5,219) on home improvements with kitchens and bathrooms at the top of the list. Although many are apparently considering creating  a cinema (12 per cent) or a swimming pool (11 per cent).

Not only that, but three in five (59 per cent ) said they’d be more likely to buy a ‘doer upper’ as they’d have more to spend on putting their own stamp on a project.

interior design by Interior Fox

interior design by Interior Fox

However, another survey of 2000 people (SLAM AI Club – a property mapping and valuation company) revealed that the so-called urban dash to the countryside may be a myth as more than half of us claim to be already living in our forever homes while despite each of us moving an average of 11 times over the course of a lifetime most of us end up no more than 37 miles away from where we grew up.


Some numerical food for thought for you this Tuesday…


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  • Ava | HIREtrades 19th November 2020 at 2:01 am

    During this time of the year where we are forced to stay at home, home improvement is one of the things we can spend our free time with, making it as comfortable and efficient especially a lot has been working from their homes.
    Thanks for sharing these data, Kate

  • Anna 17th November 2020 at 4:12 pm

    From your many figures Kate we appear to be aspiring to have better homes to live in, but shamefully Developers are not with us at all. There is little evidence of them using “ecological methods”. Read what is happening with the Grenfell enquiry or read George Clarke to testify to this.

  • Jodie 17th November 2020 at 8:04 am

    Sight! Not site!

  • Jodie 17th November 2020 at 8:03 am

    Ooh I do love facts and figures! Over half are in forever homes…wow! Well, I know we are but need to be patient and thoughtful about what we do and how we will use the house in the future, as children grow and would actually prefer you out if site rather than in constant eye sight!
    Happy Tuesday people.

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