Life Style

2020, the year that changed our homes

Roofing, insulation, painting… David has been busy in his house for a year. The 40-year-old from the Ile-de-France region is certainly a handyman, but the successive confinements and curfews have accentuated his natural inclination. “Some work was already planned but it was accelerated and deepened because we simply had more time to fine-tune. Instead of repairing an outlet, we rebuilt the electrical system, he says soberly. And once we had stripped the walls to redo the paintings, we wanted to change the decor. Her 18-year-old daughter therefore got involved by hanging small mirrors and enlargements of framed travel photos.

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This family is not the only one to have tried the screwdriver more during the past year. According to INSEE, DIY store sales rose 5% despite the closures in March and April. Leroy Merlin saw its site traffic increase by 52% compared to 2019, with a clear preference for DIY tutorials.

The interior design consultancy Rhinov doubled its turnover in 2020 with a 20% increase in consultations during confinement. “I have received a lot of requests for partial refurbishment, especially of the kitchen and the bathroom, explains Margaux Carnevali, interior designer. I was also asked to install, in living rooms, an office area or a bed, for lack of space.

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Even in his lodge, David’s family felt the need to push the walls. In the fall, the prospect of re-containment made him want to redevelop the basement. “We redone everything, without knowing what it would become: a small music studio, an extra bedroom, a game or gym room.

Direct link between the experience of confinement and the surface area of ​​the dwelling

Space is the key word, the great absentee which takes a preponderant place in the wishes of the French. Several studies carried out during the spring of 2020 establish a direct link between the experience of confinement and the size of the housing. The more spacious it is, the more positive the feeling.

2020, the year that changed our homes

Why ? “All the activities have fallen back on housing, and in particular the work which has invaded it, answers Nadine Roudil, sociologist at the Center for Research on Habitat, who conducted a three-month survey of confined homes with her colleague Yankel Fijalkow. Confinement and the systematic requirement for teleworking call into question the organization of housing around the allocation of one function per room.

The individual house offers, in this respect, more flexibility than the apartment. “Families who live in a pavilion have only one idea in mind: to fit out an attic to set up a real office that can be closed., notes interior designer Marianne Roy. Those who live in apartments ask me to find a way to install a small folding desk in their room, arranged so that they don’t have the bed behind their backs during Zoom meetings. “

“The apartments are unsuitable for this period”

In cities, many homes have realized that they live less inside their housing, which is too cramped, than in collective spaces. “The apartments are unsuitable for this period when there is no longer any urban amenities., underlines Lise Bourdeau-Lepage, professor of geography at Lyon 3, who conducted an investigation into the daily life and well-being of the French during the first confinement. When you don’t have the possibility to leave the city, you have to be able to have evolving parts. “

But the idea is not completely satisfactory according to Marianne Roy. “I prefer to limit the functions to two for the same room to prevent one from encroaching on the other and requiring incessant moves. The spaces are well distributed, for example at 80% living room and 20% office, by delimiting them by a double curtain, a pretty screen, sliding walls or a wall of plants, which create a decor.

2020, the year that changed our homes

All this is not without causing acoustic problems. You can work in a kitchen if it can be closed. But most are American, underlines Lise Bourdeau-Lepage. This confinement may herald the end of very open and multifunctional spaces because everyone must be able to isolate themselves in order to live better together.

“Put people back at the center of housing design”

Architects and builders are sensitive to it. Concrete partitions are increasingly avoided in favor of the post and slab system with removable partitions with reinforced acoustic properties., slips Pascal Chombart de Lauwe, co-founder of the Tectône agency specializing in housing. But be careful, you have to make sure that there is a window in each room.

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Light and access to an outdoor space are key elements of well-being. It affects mental health, believes Lise Bourdeau-Lepage. Avoid placing a desk facing a wall and back to the window because you have to be able to look out.

An element that seems to have become decisive. The health crisis will undoubtedly push developers to offer more generous outdoor spaces, as well as collective third places whose function is determined by the co-ownership: shared work space, study space for children, library, etc. ”, explains Jean-Raphaël Nicolini, director of major projects and urban innovation at Care Promotion.

For Catherine Sabbah, General Delegate of the Institute of Advanced Studies for Action in Housing, the occupants must be at the beginning of the reflection on the habitat, whether it is new or in the process of renovation, so that their needs are clearly in mind. It should be obvious, but it is time to put people back at the center of the design of their homes.


Unsuitable accommodation because it is cramped

77% of those who live more than 120 m2 think their home was suitable for confinement, compared to 12% of those who live in a studio.

In sixty years, the ceiling height of apartments has decreased by 27 cm while the French have grown on average by 7 cm during the same period. Housing therefore does not always correspond to the reality of its occupants, including their size.

41% of families with two or more children living in an apartment do not have one room per child. 98% of them would like to have it.

40% of French people do not have an office nor an office area in their accommodation. Among them, a majority (59%) would like to have one.

Source: Qualitel-Ipsos barometer carried out at the end of April-beginning of May 2020.


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