Post-Pandemic Home Remodeling Trends

Given that virtually everyone spent far more time at home this past year, it isn’t surprising that home renovations have spiked dramatically. In the early days of the pandemic, as businesses and schools worked to put systems in place that would allow working from home and virtual learning, many people found their work schedules reduced or, in some cases, temporarily halted. With this inordinate amount of free time, DIY home improvement projects saw an immediate increase, according to

As it became apparent that COVID-19 would have a long-term impact on daily life, processes were put in place to allow telecommuting and distance learning. Homes that were that typically empty from nine to five suddenly needed to accommodate an entire family’s daily pursuits. This drove the second phase of need-it-now home improvements: added walls and repurposed spaces.

Tables in little-used dining rooms were put in storage to make way for desks and filing cabinets. Open floor plans were carved up to create virtual classrooms. With no need to head to school or the office every day, those who owned second homes left the confinement of urban life and headed to more rural areas.

With so many second homes on Cape Cod, which are typically used only in the summer months, we saw an almost immediate increase in the number of houses being utilized well before Memorial Day. In many cases, parents welcomed their grown children and grandchildren, as multiple generations hunkered down for the foreseeable future. It was a scenario somewhat unique to the Cape – the Mid-Hudson Valley, north of NYC, saw similar patterns – and this brought about distinctive micro-trends in home remodeling for our Cape Cod building firm.

As seasonal residents found themselves living in their second homes full time, and a number of businesses began moving to a work-from-home scenario permanently, at least on a partial basis, large-scale renovations that were viewed as “someday” projects moved to the forefront of people’s wish-lists.

Dedicated Home Offices

Creating a dedicated home office was by no means a Cape-only phenomenon. It tops virtually every online story about pandemic-related home remodeling. As people became more comfortable working virtually, and the need to spend five days a week in an office began to seem like it would be permanently a thing of the past, they needed space that would allow them to be as productive at home as they were in their usual place of work.

Home additions, often far removed from the busy common areas of home, were one way in which they solved the problem. An addition at the opposite end of the home from the kitchen or away from a pool, often with an attached powder room, allowed Mom or Dad to shut the door for the day while the grandkids enjoyed themselves. Creating an office over an existing garage, perhaps with a shed dormer to add height and increase usable space, was another option.

With wall-to-wall built-ins and a window seat, this is a home office where one could easily spend the day. Photo via Houzz.

Added Space for Family

Eldest daughter wants to spend the summer with her husband and two children; youngest son wants to bring a friend down so they can get summer jobs before going back to college in the fall; father and son-in-law want to watch the Sox; mother and daughter want a much-needed hour of quiet; the grandchildren want to watch Sonic the Hedgehog… again.

With extended families spending more time at the Cape house, there was a need for more space: both for added bedrooms and to allow divergent activities. In some cases, the solution was as simple as finishing a basement.

With a half-wall between the support columns dividing the space, this finished basement works for both kids and adults. Photo via Houzz.

Creating a secondary living room was yet another reason people turned to a home addition.

A home addition with an airy great room. Photo via Houzz.

For larger families, or those that saw their transition to spending more time on the Cape as permanent, a two-story home addition, with a bedroom or two on the upper level and an office or gathering space below, addressed a host of issues.

A bunkroom-style bedroom is a space-efficient solution for a crowded Cape house. Photo via Houzz.

Upgraded Outdoor Living Spaces

The need for social distancing and a desire for fresh air led to an unprecedented interest in upgrading outdoor spaces. Pool companies have been hopping since spring of last year, as have landscapers. The backyard became the hub of family life and a place people felt comfortable gathering with friends.

A terrace with a fireplace makes this space feel like an actual living room. Photo via Houzz.

Because of their multi-tasking potential, outdoor freestanding structures became a go-to choice for homeowners. With a powder room, even something small could work as an office, play area or simply a spot to enjoy a little downtime. An added kitchenette ups the potential.

This cabana, from one of our custom-built homes in Osterville, has a living area with a fold-out sofa and a powder room. For such a small building, the possibilities are endless.

Considering a remodeling project for your Cape Cod home? Please contact us to arrange a consultation.