After years of living in the open, how has Covid affected the landscaping?


While some luxury shoppers still prefer a formal dining room or a classic six, open loft-style floor plans have been all the rage for years, with kitchen and dining room walls demolished in service. large spacious rooms that evoke a more relaxed style of living and entertaining. But as with so many other aspects of daily life, the way people use their homes has changed dramatically since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Dining rooms have become home schools, or sometimes prep areas for cooking at home,” said Nikki Field, founder of The Field Team at Sotheby’s International Realty in New York City. “There were a lot of adaptation spaces in order to [accommodate] this group [family] effort that lasted almost a year.

As such, many buyers now have very specific needs in mind when it comes to a home’s floor plan and flexibility.

“One of the things that has really changed is the extent to which buyers are involved in the floor plan before they even see the apartment,” said Stan Ponte of Sotheby’s International Realty in New York City. “We have had many examples where a client, before making an appointment, contacts directly and has already scanned the floor plan, and has circles on the walls, ‘X in some places, asking if this wall can be broken, can we put sliding doors here, make this room bigger, make this room smaller.

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In addition to square footage, additional rooms, as well as the ability to divide larger spaces at any time, are now essential features on many buyers’ listings.

“Overall, floor plans have become more important than ever,” said Bianca D’Alessio of NestSeekers International in New York City. “Cooking and kitchen storage have become much more important. People want space, generous amenities, room for a king or queen size bed in every bedroom, and a home office on top of that. This changes the dimensions of the rooms.

As the real estate market navigates between reopening in stages and the prospect of another long period of work and home study, here’s what the future of the floor plan could look like.

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“Extra” rooms are now essential

The resounding trend in housing to emerge from the pandemic was the feeling that ‘bigger is better’, and whatever a buyer’s preferred layout is, additional rooms are now at the top of their list of. wishes.

“In my experience, the vast majority of buyers do not [still] prefer the open floor plan because we all live much more casually, ”said Nicole Hechter, a New York-based Corcoran agent. “However, there has been a real tendency to need at least a home office or an extra bedroom – for people working from home with children doing homework at home, this is essential. So where we had people looking for a three bedroom, they now need a three bedroom plus a home office or a fourth bedroom.

In many cases, Ms Hechter has said that the extra bedroom “wasn’t going to be a bedroom, it would be an office, a room for a platoon, a room where people could make their phone calls or just chill out to be with. everyone. “Some affluent families have also been looking for apartments with extra room for nannies and nannies in their homes, Ms Field said, preferring not to have to travel on public transport amid a pandemic In progress.

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“I think multi-purpose venues are the way to go,” said Angela Kessel, agent at Houlihan Lawrence in Westchester, New York. “I represent a lot of builders and I advise on new builds, and that’s what we do. They still do the great central room and the open kitchen, but have these dedicated spaces that serve many functions.

Ms Hechter added: “I think a lot of people still want that big room where everyone can be together, but there is also a desire for privacy.”

Interior view of an apartment at 555 West End Ave., a new development in New York City.

555 West End Ave

Keep the plan open, but make it flexible

While there will always be exceptions to the rule, for American luxury shoppers, the pandemic has not largely dampened the craze for a vast, open entertainment space.

“What we’ve seen coming out of Covid is that a division of space and rooms is clearly needed,” Ms. Kessel said. “However, the open concept kitchen, great room and family room are here to stay. People always want the open plan family room to entertain and watch the kids while they are in the kitchen.

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In some properties, an open plan design can even be an integral part of the building’s overall appeal. “Where we are building here [in Sarasota, Florida] tends to be in areas close to the water and very sight-centric, ”said Dan Kaplan, managing partner of developer PMG. “So having an open floor plan accentuates those external features. Specifically where we build, we haven’t thought about changing our floor plans or the way buildings necessarily work.

Instead, the potential to make these shared spaces adaptable has become a selling point for some properties.

At Woolworth Tower Residences, Hall A — a $ 23.3 million Manhattan five-bedroom listing that featured in the final season of HBO — M’s “Succession”. Ponte said: “It’s a great floor plan because we pre-designed it so that the open kitchen could easily accommodate pocket doors or folding doors to separate it from the great room.”

An entertainment area in Pavilion A of the Woolworth Tower Residences in New York City.

Marc Travis

“It has been a real key for buyers to be able to know that if they are cooking dinner and on a Zoom and the kids are in the living room, they can just close the door for 20 minutes,” added Ponte. . “People rarely sit in front of a desk. “


At 555 West End Ave., a new development in New York City, “We have 13 foot ceilings in the apartments, so it’s very big and loft-like, but the kitchen is also closed,” said Alexa Lambert , a new York-based Agent with Compass. “If you look at the floor plans, they look like open kitchens, but with pocket doors that can close, it’s the best of both worlds. People look for bigger, sunny spaces so they don’t feel claustrophobic, and they look for little nooks and crannies and private spaces as well. They want both.

Interior view of an apartment at 555 West End Ave., a new development in New York City.

Amanda james

Especially as the Omicron variant spreads across the United States, sending many businesses and schools back to exclusively remote setups, the push for flexibility – and the ability to have all possible options contained in one home – is likely. to continue.

“It’s an interesting mix of uncertainty for buyers of all ages about how they want to live their lifestyle right now,” Ms. Field said. “Are they going back to the office?” Should he still keep a professional space at home? Because we’re in such an unknown moment regarding the pandemic, I think people are looking for the flexibility to be able to pivot if we need to. “

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