What's In A House? Reimagining Living Spaces In A Post Pandemic World - 27 East


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What’s In A House? Reimagining Living Spaces In A Post Pandemic World

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Pantry designed by Sieve Gambrel.

Pantry designed by Sieve Gambrel.



Outdoor living space


authorAnnette Hinkle on Jun 30, 2020

In a few short months, life as we know it has been altered on a major scale due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Home life has taken center stage and the many changes we’ve all endured includes the way in which we do our jobs, go to school, exercise and even socialize. Social distancing and working from home has become a key part of the new equation, as does spending less time out and about, and more time with family and close friends.

For Amy Werfel of Wainscott-based Michael Davis Construction, that means the firm is doing what it has always done when it comes to designing a home for a client, but now on a somewhat expanded scale.

“We’ve always been hyper-focused on lifestyle – really getting into how the houses are going to be used and making sure we’re meeting the client’s needs,” said Werfel. “I always feel like our houses are really livable. Now, a lot of clients are really debating how much time they want to spend out here.”

So while she finds that COVID-19 hasn’t really altered the amenities that her clients want in their homes, it has perhaps, enhanced those features as people look to spend longer periods of time on the East End surrounded by a greater number of guests.

“If they don’t come with immediate family, they’ll bring help or the kids who are home from college who also bring their friends,” said Werfel, “and they’re staying longer.”

More people hunkered down for longer periods of time means that it’s important to have plenty of food and provisions on hand, so building houses with lots of storage has become a primary focal point in recent months.

“We’ve always done walk-in pantries, but the pantry has become very important lately,” Werfel explained. “We’ve also had a lot of people ask us to find spaces in their houses where they can create a Zoom meeting room or a homework room for the kids.”

Working from home has pretty much become the standard in 2020 and Werfel finds that utilizing underused spaces in the home or reconfiguring areas into offices is a priority these days. In creating a workspace for children, Werfel notes that because online learning can be complicated for kids, it’s important to design spaces that will help them stay organized.

“We do a lot of built-in desks and every room is wired for internet,” she said. “Homework rooms can be tailored so each kid has a place to store their work and research materials. If you have more than one kid, try to make sure they’re not on top of each other. A lot of people go for side by side desks, which isn’t necessarily the best.”

Not only is working from home important in the current climate for both kids and adults, but so is playing at home. Theaters and home gyms have always been popular with Michael Davis clients but now, they’re more vital than ever.

“With Peloton, we’ve done even more with gyms because people don’t really want to go to an outside gym,” Werfel said. “We’re also looking closely at expanding outdoor living areas and kitchens. Everybody has always been big on outdoor entertaining here, but I think it’s even more important now. We’ve always done nice outdoor BBQs with a sink, but now people want a real outdoor kitchen for entertaining with outdoor refrigerators, drawers and burners, covered porches with fireplaces and outdoor TVs.”

Another consideration in these days of pandemic is the delivery of goods coming from outside the home and concerns that packages could carry the Coronavirus. Werfel explained that Michael Davis homes are typically built with large mud rooms, which makes it convenient to bring in items in from the outside and let them sit for a few days before using them in the home.

“It’s interesting that it’s not just getting deliveries, but trying to figure ways to have people service the house and come and go without accessing the interior space,” she said. “Most of our houses have access to mechanical rooms through lower levels so a service person wouldn’t have to come in through the main house.”

While most of Michael Davis Construction’s business involves working with clients who are looking to build new homes, the firm has also been fielding requests lately from a new crop of clients interested in spending more time on the East End.

“We’re getting a lot of calls from people who have never had a house out here and just want something small so they don’t have to try and rent again,” said Werfel. “Maybe they have a property that needs renovation and all of a sudden, they’re keen on doing that renovation because they’re likely to spend more time here.”

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