Toni served as an expert advisor on a panel for FIXR, and her thoughts are quoted in the following article (click title to see the original):


How COVID Has Given a New Shape to What We Call Home

Home design is constantly changing. But there are certain events that have an unexpected deep impact on the way we build but also enjoy our homes. Home design preferences since the pandemic are the result of how we are adapting our living spaces in the wake of our new found appreciation and needs for our homes.

To gain a better perspective of what has become more important to homeowners, we asked 47 experts in home building, home design and architecture to share what homeowners are more willing to invest in now compared to pre-pandemic times. Below, we dive into each of these key components and analyze the reasons behind them, as well as how much each of them costs in 2022.

We asked the experts the following question: Which features are homeowners more willing to invest in now compared to before the pandemic? In the image below we highlight the results of their responses.

A legacy of the pandemic is having more informed and invested homeowners who now have a clearer idea of what they want in terms of the use of their home.

Anna Karp, CEO & Co-Founder at Bolster


1. A Permanent Place to Work From Home

A home office has become a very important and more investment-worthy feature to homeowners, according to 66% of the experts surveyed. Out of all of the areas in the home, it is home offices which takes number one priority for people when deciding how to invest in improving their living space.

recent survey by Owl labs indicated that 92% of people surveyed expect to work from home at least one day per week, and 80% expected to work at least three days from home per week. Additionally, 23% said they would take a 10% pay cut to work from home permanently, and 59% said they would be more likely to choose an employer who offered remote work compared to one who did not. This goes some way into explaining why the experts we surveyed believe homeowners are more willing to invest over top of any other feature.

The average homeowner will spend about $3,500 to convert an existing bedroom into a home office with a fresh coat of paint and flooring upgrades. If your home already has an office, a cost-effective option is to upgrade lighting and install a new desk for about $2,000. Considering that commuters spend, on average, over $4,500 every year simply getting to work, this project has an excellent ROI.

The pandemic changed the way many people thought about their homes, and we saw people spending more money on making their houses more comfortable for multiple activities, including working.

Toni Lewis, Principal at Lewis |Schoeplein architects


2. An Outdoor Area You Can Enjoy

55% of experts agree that outdoor spaces have grown in importance since before the pandemic. When you consider that a recent survey conducted by found that 87% of experts agree that the pandemic continues to influence homeowners’ investment decisions regarding outdoor living spaces, with a majority indicating that creating indoor spaces outside is a top trend for homeowners, it is no wonder that it sits at number two on this list.

More people are also willing to splash cash on these features despite living in colder climates. For those who live in a four-season climate, there is a good chance that their current outdoor space is only used a few months each year due to cold weather ruining the fun. This does not have to be the way anymore, with more homeowners opting to install outdoor fireplaces or fire pits to enjoy the outdoors all year. Outdoor fireplaces cost between $1,000 and $4,000 for a prefab unit and up to $15,000 for a custom install. Fire pits run between $300 and $1,400. Fire pits can be fun DIY projects, or you can pick one up at a local hardware store, depending on your tastes and budget.



3. Modern Homes Embrace Natural Light

30% of experts surveyed believe that homeowners are more willing to invest in bringing natural light into their homes now than they were before the pandemic.

Natural light has many benefits, including reducing energy costs, improving health and mood, reducing stress and anxiety, and increasing focus. If these are not enough, natural light can also help increase the value of your home!

For those who helped the popularity of indoor gardening grow when the pandemic hit and continue to care for and expand their collection of indoor plants, natural light is a must-have.



4. Extra Space, Extra Possibilities

30% believe that extra space became more important now for homeowners to invest in than prior to the pandemic. Extra space can be used in various ways depending on your needs. Some popular options are home gyms, entertainment rooms, and playrooms. Costs to install a home gym most often range between $3,500 and $25,000 and depend on your space, budget, and features. However, most pay around $13,500 for an air-conditioned basement cardio gym equipped with rubber flooring and a few portable weight-lifting pieces. For more modest budgets, $100 will furnish a space with foam floor tiles, yoga mats, straps, and blocks.

“Spare” bedrooms were awkwardly transitioned into make-shift offices, while leisure areas felt too cramped with an entire family occupying a single space regularly. The concepts of flexible spaces, sweeping views, natural light and individual choice are seen as must-haves now.

Brinn Miracle, Founder of Architangent


5. More Privacy Equals More Comfort

As people spend more time at home enjoying their outdoor spaces, privacy has become even more important than it was before the pandemic, according to 26% of the experts surveyed.

There are several ways to add to your home’s privacy, depending on factors like local zoning rules, climate conditions, and personal preference. For those looking to incorporate more green into their outdoor space, a flat-shaped trellis with flowering vines will add a natural barrier. A trellis installation costs between $350 and $1,150 on average and varies based on the material and size selected. The overall privacy effect will take some time after installation because nature needs time to do its magic!

If you do not have a green thumb or need a faster solution, privacy fences or well-placed slat walls, sometimes known as privacy screens, can be installed. Fences typically require professional installation and have a higher cost. Slat walls may be accomplished as a DIY project that you can handle on your own.



6. Energy Efficient HVAC Is a Priority

Render of a energy efficent HVAC system

21% of experts believe that energy efficient HVAC is even more important than they were prior to the pandemic. This comes as no surprise as the amount of time spent at home directly correlates with how much your heating and cooling bills amount to. More people are spending additional time at home for work and pleasure, and there is the continued rise of electricity and other energy rates.

Your climate and home size are key factors when choosing the type of heating and cooling systems you need, but opting for an energy efficient unit is always a good choice. Compare how different HVAC systems perform regarding energy efficiency with aspects like the cost and availability of fuel in mind.


7. Home Security Is Now More Important

Security was voted by 21% of the experts as a feature that homeowners are willing to invest more in now than before the pandemic. According to the latest FBI report, victims of property crimes suffered losses estimated at $17.5 billion in 2020. Security systems help you protect your home and valuables from burglars and keep your family and pets safe. Moreover, our recent survey discovered that security is within the top 10 most important home features for the homeowners in 2022.

epending on the desired security level, existing technical connections, and the home security contract conditions, expect to spend between $750 and $2,000 on your home security system. Most homeowners pay an average of $1,400 for a basic monitored system with a three-year contract and annual monitoring fee.


Moving Forward

It is not surprising that an event as influential on people’s daily lives as the pandemic had effects on what homeowners find important in their homes today, and as work and leisure habits continue to evolve and remain closer to home, we can expect that these features will remain important to homeowners for the years to come.


Cristina Miguelez

Cristina has more than 4 years of experience in the remodeling and home design sector. She joined in 2017 and has since been working constantly with industry experts to bring the most accurate and reliable information regarding news, trends, and advice to homeowners and other industry pros. Her work has appeared in major industry publications, like Forbes, and the official publication of the National Kitchen & Bathroom Association.



How We Gathered This Data

For this article, surveyed 47 top experts in the home construction industry. Each of the professionals who responded have a wealth of experience and currently work in the building, remodeling or architecture fields. In order to compile the top features that homeowners give more importance to in 2022, and the associated percentages, we asked the experts: Which of the following features are homeowners more willing to invest in now compared to before the pandemic? All percentages were rounded. They were able to select more than one option.

The chosen contributors to this report were selected due to their extensive expertise, as well as their success in the industry and reputable designs. We extend our thanks to them.