Cover Photo: Jean Philippe Delberghe (Unsplash)

Once your home has been designed, here are four tips to make your home comfortable in the last part of our guide to future-proofing

Designing a future-proofed home is one thing; living in it is another. More than construction and composition, there are smaller choices that add up to far more than the sum of parts in making a home ready for tomorrow as well as a wonderful place to live in.

PERSONAL REQUIREMENTS

Practicality is a necessary component in adapting or designing a home for the future, especially in planning for changing behaviour patterns. Simple additions such as handrails on stairs, bathroom wall grips or just a generous distance between pieces of furniture can prevent accidents and make life easier as mobility decreases.

Health considerations are also paramount. In a post-Covid 19 world, good ventilation in enclosed spaces avoids stagnant air and odours, and saves lives. More than that, a proper ventilation system controls humidity to avoid mould and filters out pollutants that could induce respiratory issues. Also consider options to make home maintenance easier in the long run: anti-fungal damp-proof paints or prioritising durability when choosing fittings or furnishings.

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ENVIRONMENTAL STABILITY

Landscaping has a role in future-proofing beyond just composing a pretty picture. Trees and plants provide natural shade but what they are matters too. Importing exotic species from halfway across the world fuels jungle exploitation and incurs a high carbon footprint. It could also lead to rapacious invasion: the water hyacinth was brought to East Africa by Belgian colonists as a decorative pond plant and eventually expanded to Lake Victoria where it has driven several aquatic plant and fish species to near extinction.

Native species are a more sustainable pick, preserving the original natural landscape—but not always. Water requirements must be considered too. Some introduced species can be far less thirsty, while gardening concepts such as xeriscaping (reducing or eliminating irrigation) prioritise efficient water usage. Where there is run-off, then permeable paving materials can reduce impact by directing water downwards into the subsoil instead of outwards, affecting the integrity of the ground structure.

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TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES

The Minority Report vision of the future—gesture-based controls and holographic interfaces—is probably still quite far off. But the immediate future is definitely a lot smarter. Research consultancy Gartner predicts that the average American home will have over 500 smart home devices by 2023, from 4K televisions and smartphones to refrigerator control screens.

All of these ‘connected’ devices will require bandwidth that cannot always be reliably provided wirelessly. Future-proofing in anticipation of this is clever: mounting hardwired network ports in each power socket cluster will ensure that high-data devices are plugged in to receive reliable connection so that in the future, holographic video calls or virtual reality entertainment can run without a hitch.

MARKET VALUE

Personalising can sometimes make a home too specific, affecting how future-proofed it is in commercial value. Instead of unique décor—patterned wallpaper or trendy paint styles—that cycles in and out of fashion, white or neutral walls are timeless and keep a space looking brighter and wider. Plus, they make for great blank canvases onto which personality can be projected effectively through furnishings and objet d’art while accommodating easier remodelling or even someone else’s personality.

But kitting out the space should not be an afterthought. Paints should be acrylic with low volatile organic compounds (VOC) to reduce chemical irritation while counters and cabinets should be formaldehyde-free to avoid health risks. A home is an investment of time, effort and money, and consideration of these aspects will resonate with family and other potential inheritors of a painstakingly future-proofed home.

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