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Fixing Work Life Balance With A Broken Plan

Following on from such an unprecedented year, many aspects of our lives underwent transformational periods. This has been most evident within our homes. As strict social restrictions were implemented, people across the globe suddenly had to balance their work and personal lives in one single space. Our properties soon became the epicentre of daily life.

As a result of this transition, there has never been so much interest in adapting our living environments, whether through interior design changes, improving the practicality of specific areas or optimising unoccupied indoor and outdoor space.

For the upcoming new year, we expect the trends to build upon the changes that we saw in 2020. To get a better understanding of these recent trends and their impact on the way we live, we caught up with Director, Marcus Walsh, to understand what’s next for making the best use of our personal space.

Broken plan living

In recent years, open plan living has proven to be a popular preference among homeowners across the UK. This design concept enables multiple rooms to be used as one zone to interact and socialise without any divisions.

This trend, however, is becoming less sought-after and replaced with broken plan living. This concept takes a much more strategic approach to specific spaces within the home and creates distinctive and individual areas – albeit in a creative way!

This is achieved through a myriad of different methods, including the use of partitions such as bookshelves, islands, large doorways, windows and double-sided fireplaces. The use of furniture can differentiate multiple rooms without losing the exposure to natural light and space provided through open plan living.

Many broken plan designs are also conceived by alternating the colour schemes throughout the home. With a simple colour change, a single area can be transformed into multi-functional spaces.

When it comes to the colour palette, blue and grey décor will remain a popular choice, helping to clearly define space while also maintaining a light and open feel.

In addition to using different colours, floor finishes such as tiles, wood, carpet or laminate, can also create specific zones. Distinct flooring can be installed to give a clear indication of what that space is intended for.

An area designated for working out and gym equipment can have a completely different floor finish than the living and communal spaces. Again, this provides the property with a sense of separation between each area, without compromising each room’s open layout and seamless connectivity.

Adapting space for practical purposes

The main fallout from transitioning to remote working has been the increase in demand for an efficient and appropriate home office space. With the home working revolution now in full effect, MWA predicts that many homeowners will require permanent office spaces that finally replace the makeshift bedroom, dining room or living room ‘office’ that they have created amid the pandemic.

John Lewis recently published a ‘Flexible Living Report’, here a survey of 1,000 people revealed that ‘one in five of us have reconfigured an open plan space to accommodate multiple activities throughout the day; such as working, exercising and home-schooling’.

Given that homeworking will likely remain in place for the foreseeable future, home office space will become a much more regular feature on the residential market.

This is similarly the case when it comes to utilising ways of staying healthy and working out within the home. With a great deal of emphasis on the importance of our mental and physical wellbeing, new technologies such as streaming workouts, online fitness classes and products such as Peleton have made exercising at home easily accessible.

The challenge is to create a similar environment to that of the workplace or the gym without compromising other rooms within the home. Again, the broken plan approach is helping to achieve this and create multi-functional spaces.

Through partitions and adaptable furniture, extra space can be created when necessary only to return to the initial layout when a task, activity or the working day is over. Think of it like a jigsaw and the picture you are putting together is the requirement you have for that space at a certain time or on a particular day.

Utilising garden and outdoor living spaces

Not limited to indoors, there has been a renewed focus on optimising gardens and other outdoor areas in the wake of the pandemic. With so many of us housebound, our outdoor living spaces became our primary outdoor experience.

Amid the national lockdown and tiered living, gardens became critical places – whether to meet friends when this was allowed or to just enjoy the fresh air in a safe and secure environment. As a result, we will continue to see an increase in demand for vibrant social, entertainment and activity zones within these areas of the home.

As we advance into 2021, we expect to see gardens continue to act as an additional room.

There is likely to be more emphasis on creating specific spaces for barbeques and seating areas alongside the demand for other forms of garden furniture that are sustainable all year round.

Where possible, additional buildings will also be constructed to act as a home office, workout and exercise areas, while others will use gardens as a breakout, lunch area when working from home.

More importantly, however, those with younger families will continue to dedicate their gardens as play areas for young children. With such limited access to activity and outdoor centres, we expect to see homeowners continue to invest in child-centric apparatus such as swing sets, climbing frames and slides.

Put simply, gone are the days where gardens simply mean a strip of grass and a patio area. Whether it is a place to socialise with friends, spend time with family or an escape from the confines of our own homes, gardens will continue to be placed high on the agenda within the residential market.

Outdoor in!

As well as utilising outdoor spaces, homeowners are also bringing natural elements inside.

Within the residential market, homeowners are trading compounds such as brick and mortar for wood, stone and other natural finishes. In addition to this, greener spaces are also being created in the home’s most frequently used parts.

This can be anything from placing house plants, flowers, greenery within the home or installing water features within the main living space, whether kitchens, dining or living rooms.

This design approach offers many significant health benefits. Not only does this improve the air quality of the home, but it is also well documented that nature is an effective inducer of calmness and relaxation.

Following on from a year confined to our homes, the benefits of bringing plants into our homes has the potential to offer a significant boost to our mental health and wellbeing.

With the capability to deliver designs for our clients on matter how complex the brief, we at MWA have ensured that our team has planned and prepared to meet all the upcoming residential trends.

To find out more about the MWA team’s experience and expertise can design properties that work harder for the homeowner, please visit:

As strict social restrictions were implemented, people across the globe suddenly had to balance their work and personal lives in one single space. Our properties soon became the epicentre of daily life.

Marcus Walsh