Plato has rightly quoted, ‘necessity is the mother of invention!’ This is becoming true for us, now more than ever. This is the time when the world is witnessing events of epic proportions, collaborating, supporting, and coming together as a community more than ever. The line of difference between today/ tomorrow, noon/ evening, indoors/ outdoors is somewhere being lost. The physical impact of the pandemic is far lesser than the impact it has had on our mental state and well-being. People are finding new ways to combat the challenges created by the pandemic, especially in their living spaces.
Flexi homes are becoming the new normal during this time when the pandemic has locked us inside our houses. The Flexi home solutions are enabling people to adapt to a more time-focused lifestyle. A recent study by Xiaomi, which is a renowned name in smart devices, states that post lockdown announcement in March 2020, around 70% of people have reported revamping their houses and the environment they live and work in.
The study also revealed that 3 of 5 participants responded by saying that it has become difficult to balance the work-life equation as leisure and work environments have merged and the ‘personal space’ has gone missing even in their own homes. While the pandemic has taken so much from us, it has also given us the time to be together with our families. This community lifestyle could never have been imagined in the pre-pandemic era.
The entire scenario of how people live, work, interact and sustain has changed post lockdowns and people are now exploring ways to restructure the indoors to make them multi-functional. Multi-functional homes or smart homes will fulfil the requirements which are now arising such as working, exercising, relaxing, and rejuvenation corners.
With people spending more time together at home, the demand and need for flexible adaptation of homes is emerging in most cities, which allows them to use their homes for living, working, and earning. The decision to buy or renovate properties now depends on a lot of factors like indoor space, sunlight amplification, ventilation inside the house, quality of air and water, proximity to essential services and so on. More people are also considering converting sections of their house into a dedicated work space.
Our homes need to do more. But homes cannot change overnight, and hence designs and architects have been innovating new products that can be integrated into existing homes, including automation, smart devices, flexible furniture, movable furniture. These features are now being projected as USP for apartments.
Spaces available for a home in other countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, etc were small, and hence needed to have furniture that can multitask or be moved around. Solutions like these were meant for a niche segment and created for smaller pockets across the globe.
Due to the pandemic, India has been seeing an upward trend for such features. People have the same space as before the pandemic, but they need to do much more – hence the need for flexibility. Again, existing homes cannot be transformed drastically.
People are experimenting with the ‘cafeteria balconies’ – which give outdoor feels inside the comfort of your home; the ‘attic rooms’ which give the kids the feel of a play school/school; convertible open spaces in houses and rejuvenation corners are the trends in demand presently. Trends like walk-in bathroom closets, convertible furniture, smart zones for digital activities, etc. have also seen an increased adoption rate.
Presently, even the temporary solutions by realtors, designers and architects are making homes more functional in line with the lifestyle changes the pandemic has brought up in order to create multiple utilities for designated corners in the homes like the dining, garden, bedroom, or study. This is enabling the renovation of homes in a manner that streamlines the interiors and creating a home that is easier to keep up with the multi-utility demand. The industry is also evolving accordingly – there are many brands now marketing movable walls – to convert their homes into offices and allow them to switch back into a home.
As the country witnesses the worst phase of Covid-19 outbreak, many families have already converted their homes into flexible multi-functional residences. Going forward, it will no longer be about designing a one/two BHK house for people to live in; it will be more about structuring the home and interiors in a manner that the place people reside in is turned into a multi-functional space merging into the reality of indoors being a space with more than just singular purposes.
The affordability of customers remains largely unchanged. Spacious living rooms are usually considered a luxury. With flexible walls, this luxury becomes a reality, with no change in the affordability. The mantra of ‘less is more’ is more apt for today’s scenario.
This new normal unquestionably calls for us to re-look and restructure the home we live in. The pandemic, coupled with the lockdowns, has created a lasting impact on us – our present, and the future. This evolution of the customers’ needs and behaviour has spurred realtors to create new definitions of flexibility for homes. The future will see more innovations than ever before and create more multi-functional spaces for all of us.
(By Anilcy Verghese, AVP Sales & Marketing, Karle Infra Pvt Ltd)