Interior Design Influenced by a Pandemic

Michelle Harrison-McAllister

With home design heavily relying on functionality, every pandemic has left its mark. Infectious diseases such as typhoid, tuberculosis and cholera have long influenced the way we view and design our homes and COVID-19 is no different. Signs of how designers responded to these diseases have become standard practice in homes today, but not many people even realize it. Changes happening today will continue to evolve over the next decade. Here’s a look at pandemic influences you might not even be aware of and a look into the future.              

The History of Design

References of the impact infectious diseases have had on interior design can be seen as early as mid-19th century London when the outbreak of cholera resulted in certain textiles being perceived as collecting germs, so materials went from textured to smooth. The Victorian era was also impacted by typhoid. The opulent fabrics and wall-to-wall carpets of this time were found to be a breeding ground for dust and disease, causing the shift towards surfaces like linoleum for flooring and white subway tiles that show dirt easily to the naked eye. The early 20th century saw the introduction of the half-bath which was a result of offering a place for delivery workers and guests to wash their hands. By the mid-1920s, coat closets began replacing bulky furniture like armoires that were difficult to move and collected dust.

Looking Toward the Future

Jefferson at Carmel Mountain Ranch. Image courtesy of Michelle Harrison Design

COVID-19 is the latest infectious disease to impact the way we design our homes. Apart from once again bringing awareness to the importance of cleanliness, this pandemic has helped us realize how important our relationship with the outdoors is and the role our home décor plays in our overall happiness, health and spirit. Over the next decade, I predict home design will be focused on our relationship with the outdoors, and improving our health, vitality and mindfulness.

In general, we will begin to see a more organic and holistic approach to our home, paying closer attention to materials, artwork and the incorporation of greenery and plants. Our recent appreciation for the outdoors will be reflected through décor that resembles outdoor living, constructed from natural materials such as wood, marble, brass and rattan, all in their natural finish.


When we look at materials, not all are treated equally. In fact, some even have antimicrobial properties. Copper, brass and bronze have long been proven to destroy a wide range of bacteria and microorganisms within two hours of exposure, making them the perfect materials to introduce into your home. Apart from their hygienic properties, these metals are also a great way to introduce warmth whether it be through faucets or hardware.

For countertops and other surfaces throughout the home, quartz is one of the most durable materials and is completely nonporous, making this material stain and scratch resistant, as well as antimicrobial. We will also begin to see people embracing wood paneling, in various pattern designs,

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Five Ways The Pandemic Has Influenced Interior Design Trends In 2020

The pandemic has changed life as we know it in every way, but especially how we live in our homes. In a short period, the home has become a place to work, exercise, relax, and even attend school. This has been the single biggest influence on design trends this year.

While many people have moved or are beginning to renovate, most of us are simply doing the best with what we have. After all, due to shutdowns, shortages, and demand for design-related services, there really isn’t an alternative. From the reality of COIVD life, to creating as pleasant an environment as possible, here are five ways the pandemic has influenced interior design trends in 2020.

Open Floor Plans Are On The Way Out

Had most homeowners, real estate agents, and interior designers been asked in January if they thought the open concept was here to stay, the answer would likely have been a resounding yes. But if you asked the same group in September, the answer might have been a little different. While open floor plans aren’t falling entirely out of fashion, they’re no longer as practical and desirable as they once were. “[My clients] still want big kitchens that open on to a family room—but home offices, outdoor spaces, and Zoom rooms (or at least a dedicated space for Zoom meetings) are big on wish lists,” interior designer Caitlin Scanlon of Caitlin Scanlon Design tells me.

Gavin Brodin of Brodin Design Build has received similar feedback. His clients have been looking for ways to create luxury upgrades to transform their homes into sanctuaries with amenities like meditation and massage rooms as well as secret gardens. But they want to limit the amount of money they spend on these projects. “During this time, many clients need to stay on a budget, so it’s a challenge to make a space beautiful and stay within a practical budget,” he tells me. 

But the pandemic has truly had the biggest impact on those living in smaller spaces such as apartments. “All of the activities that we’re doing at home have kind of changed the game a little bit,” says Home Director of Apartment Therapy, Danielle Blundell. “[We’re] looking to actually have defined spaces again, and some semblance of privacy and compartmentalization for things like working from home, exercising and people being home at the same time and taking calls.”

Blundell has also noticed that when it comes to sectioning off spaces— people are becoming a lot more creative, using everything from divider screens to curtains and partitions to carve out dedicated zones. 

Home Offices Are Now Just Offices

While some people have gone back to their regular offices at least part of time, most of us are still working from home, including CEO and founder of Manna Kadar Cosmetics, Manna Kadar. She has no plans to return and wants her employees to remain home as well. “We will eventually get back into

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