Editors Note: In this guest blog, Mark Kooyman explores the world of millennials and their home lives during the time of COVID. No matter your industry, understanding broader trends is imperative to help keep your brand in tune with culture and understand how your customers are thinking and feeling in order to shape all-important business decisions.
Over the course of the last 90 days, I did not stay locked down and instead ventured out and talked to more than 200+ Millennials about house and home. During the pandemic, the house and home have become a true base of operations for many.
For Millennials, house & home has become the platform for their sense of self and persona.
When Millennials hear the terms “renovation” and “remodeling,” they immediately translate the terminology to an opportunity to customize and personally author and create… the opportunity to “make that space our own!”
After dwelling 24/7 in the home space, many Millennials are re-assessing what needs to be next in their space and adjusting things that they did in the last couple of years that just aren’t working anymore.
Here is some of what I heard…
- Repurposing is in… renovation and restoration is out.
Millennials have a limited understanding of local history due to their Boomer parents moving around with career changes. However, they are committed to their next move in purchasing a home to sink down roots and build a bond with the local neighborhood and community.
Many Millennials hope to extend to their kids a sense of locality and neighborhood identity that they did not have in growing up.
In remodeling where they plan to dwell, Millennials are obsessed right now with re-using parts of the house or local flea market finds in new and different ways to bring a sense of locality and roots into their home space.
Taking old floorboards and using them to create an accent wall… using the old kitchen cabinets in the construction of a mobile wine bar… taking old windows and using the glass in the shower stall… even taking an old commode and making an outdoor planter out of it!
- Walls are going back up.
Open flow living space took smaller homes and made them feel more spacious.
The idea of co-habiting seemed so nice many captured it in smartphone videos posted on social media until the cohabiting time never ended during the COVID lockdowns.
Even the open kitchen islands functioned well when used to grab a morning coffee or an evening glass of wine, but when the kitchen was is used to cook all three meals, the space is really not that visually … and even odor… appealing.
As a number of the Millennials interviewed expressed, “separating space actually serves a purpose.”
Hot areas being re-partitioned include entry halls and parts of kitchens.
- One Great Room ain’t that great and two rooms for living now makes sense.
After living 24/7 in a lock-down all together, the idea of a separate “family room” and “keeping room” makes sense.
When asked what projects were on their shortlists to do to their home space in the next 12 months, at least a third of the Millennials talked about finding a way to create a “family room” … whether in a basement or converting over a garage or enclosing a porch.
A couple even said that when they finally carve out a second space, they are likely to move the big flat-screen television into the new space too because “it is just way too overwhelming in our open dwelling space.”
- Colors and patterns are being added to white-on-white-on-white space.
For many, white conveyed a sense of virginity… a sense of purity… a sense of blank canvas to express one’s personality.
Patterns surfaced first with kitchen and bath tiles and next, the tiles went from counter accents and splash coverings to total wall patterns. During the lockdowns, many Millennials purchased peel and stick patterned wallpaper to add character to the blank white walls.
And the infusion of colors is not limited to the walls.
While stainless steel appliances might still remain a consistent model choice, new bold colors like fire engine red and deep-sea blue are appearing on everything from ovens and refrigerators to farmhouse tubs and sinks. As one Millennial I interviewed said, “that pop of color in my kitchen makes the cooking time more fun.”
- The enclosure of open shelving.
This is what I sometimes refer to as a BGO… a blinding glimpse of the obvious. Neatness and order are not a feature of young family life. The open shelving idea was nice and novel with newly married Millennials.
However, many are finding that the open shelving does not work well when they need space for baby supplies, pots & pans, and a place to store cooking supplies.
When I asked a Millennial couple how they were addressing the issue, they were eager to begin the work. They were purchasing unfinished cabinets from the nearby Big Box home supply store and painting them a color to “add some personal character” to their “stock cabinet kitchen” the builder installed.
Many industry sources are predicting a further explosion in home renovation and remodeling as a greater share of Millennials escape the high cost of living in town and seek to sink down roots out in the suburbs
The Big Box Home Stores reported record earnings at the end of the second quarter this year with furniture stores falling next in line. While some news outlets link what’s taking place with COVID and lock-downs, they fail to see what’s happening on the Big Picture level.
If you are reading this and want to learn more, please give me a call on my iPhone that is on me all the time except when I take a shower… that number is 404.245.9378. You can also Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.