The global COVID-19 pandemic has affected our lives, and the way we live in our homes. New needs have emerged clearly, requiring immediate answers from interior design professionals, able to guarantee comfort and well-being in the home.
Up to now, the most appreciated by the builders, and practiced by the builders, has seen apartments mostly with:
- day environments open space
- open kitchens connected with the dining and living areas
- entrances that led directly into the living area
- Wardrobes or walk- in closets inside the bedrooms.
From now on all this will have to be radically revised since the desire to live in a healthier home will push us to prefer a more adequate distribution of spaces, the installation of air treatment systems, and the choice of materials for interiors that can be sanitized.
We talk about interior design, in relation to the distribution of spaces in the house. What are the changes to consider in light of the health emergency?
The first point on which I would focus on the new interior design is certainly the entrance.
The houses whose entrance does not immediately provide access to a closet, from today they will have to equip themselves with and also have a small hand basin inside.
The moment of entering the house has in fact assumed a fundamental importance: it is no longer a room in which a quick passage is made to place the keys.
This phase has been enriched with new procedures, and therefore requires new collectors . It has become the space in which dressing and undressing from the devices for limiting contagion take place, and in which to find:
- the containers for collecting gloves and masks used
- the shoe rack
- the container for bags and coats that must remain confined if not sanitized immediately
- The washbasin, both for the owners and for the guests.
Therefore the ideal would be to collect all this, containers and clothing, in a separate storage room, but still close to the entrance door.
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In addition to the entrance to the house, in the face of the COVID-19 emergency, are there other living spaces that will have to be redesigned?
Definitely the kitchen: we archive the idea of the open space and the open kitchen, that is, one with the dining room and the living area.
In the new interior design, it will be preferable for the kitchen to become a separate room again so that it can be sanitized, fully and quickly, whenever necessary. This will also allow the room to remain hygienically protected from access by too many people during dinners or lunches with friends and relatives.
The separation can take place by allocating different rooms to the various activities or by means of simple sliding dividing panels . Transparent glass panels, for example, will perform an excellent functional separation function, allowing the visual opening effect to be preserved.
Apart from Coronavirus, having a clean air inside confined spaces is a good thing, because it reduces the risk of pathologies due to pollutants that we carry from outside or that we produce ourselves.
Those in the interior design phase often have doubts about the choice of materials. Today this choice has an even more important weight. Are there any criteria to be adopted?
All rooms in the house must be sanitized so as not to allow the proliferation of viruses . For this you must pay attention to the materials with which all surfaces are made, both those of floors and furniture and, above all, of tops and doors of the kitchen and bathroom.
In particular, four materials were analyzed:
- stainless steel
The tests were conducted at room temperature (21-23 ° C with relative humidity of 40%), conditions that we could easily compare to that of our homes.
What were the results obtained?
The most "inhospitable" materials for the virus were found to be copper and cardboard with a halving of the infectious capacity in less than two hours for the first material and within 5 hours for the second.
A complete reduction of infectivity was observed after 4 hours for copper and 24 hours for cardboard respectively.
And what about other surfaces, such as stainless steel?
On the other two surfaces the persistence was greater.
On stainless steel, the infectious load was halved only after about 6 hours , while about 7 were needed to halve it on plastic .
This figure was associated with a much longer time, compared to the first two materials, to observe a complete zeroing of the infectivity: at least 48 hours for steel and 72 for plastic . The risk, therefore, decreases considerably with the passing of the hours but cannot be canceled until a few days later.
In the light of this interesting research, what do you think are the materials to be preferred for home environments?
Taking note that the virus, in the best of cases, still remains a few hours on the surfaces , during the interior design for the construction of floors and walls, especially the entrance, kitchen, bathrooms, dining and living areas, the use of materials such as the porcelain stoneware , resins or others.
Materials that endure without deteriorating sanitizing treatments with steam or specific products, thus avoiding marble and wood .
We have seen how to redesign the environments of our homes, and what are the most suitable materials based on the time spent on the surfaces of the virus. Do you also have any advice regarding the choice of furnishings?
For the choice of furnishings for your home, the first step is to make sure that the surfaces are sanitizable . Next we need to make sure that viruses and bacteria find as few favorable places as possible .
For this reason my advice is to pay attention to the type of furniture that is chosen during the interior design, and the technologies to be used.
In particular, it is better to avoid :
- open libraries and containers
Replacing them with closed containers and closed bookcases or showcases , so as to keep everything protected from contamination and save time during sanitization.
I also recommend using, where possible, sensors for turning on the lights since sanitizing the switches is more complicated.
In addition to installing automatic garment sanitizing systems (already on the market, such as these ) inside wardrobes and walk-in closets .
For all those who will still work a lot of time in smart working, or who plan to do it in the future, how should they design their home environments?
In this case it will be more effective to dedicate a room , or a corner, to work, taking care that: