An Extended Quarantine and the Home Design it Inspires

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By Bill Primavera

As a realtor, I marvel at the creative ways that homeowners and sellers are maintaining distancing requirements to avoid COVID-19 while marketing homes for sale.

Real estate agents have been told that they must conduct business from their homes, which has led to a vast increase in virtual showings. All open houses and in-person showings have been explicitly banned. It’s a different world for anyone seeking to sell or buy a home.

Looking back into my files of Home Guru columns, I found an article written almost exactly 10 years ago on the subject of “cocooning,” which was yesterday’s term for isolating – or quarantining – oneself. The difference between isolating yesterday and quarantining today, of course, is that cocooning was done by choice, a lifestyle, while quarantining ourselves now is by necessity to avoid the deadly coronavirus.

With cocooning, homeowners chose to hunker down at home enjoying more activities there, rather than going out. With the quarantine, we isolate ourselves to save our lives. Quite a difference.

Futurist Faith Popcorn (a name of creative device) first coined the term cocooning and its meaning in the early 1990s. At the time, as a public relations practitioner, I was participating in a project with her, but personally was very much doubting her projections, at least for myself. What, me? A stay-at-home? Never. Who could have predicted COVID-19?

Today, any of us with any concern for our health is isolating because we must, and that is impacting the way our homes will look and function in the future.

Popcorn’s forecast was for a home-centered lifestyle to be supported with gadgets, furnishings and accessories to make one’s abode a more welcoming entertainment and work hub. She even projected the advent of shopping at home through technology long before the concept was developed. In fact, the re-emergence of this lifestyles trend was aided and abetted by 21st century technology.

The trend today is renamed as a quarantine to better communicate the desire to remain healthy in the face of a pandemic. Supporting that message is our use of face masks and gloves and distancing from each other.

The world has suddenly changed, becoming a hostile environment, and we find that we must change with it to protect ourselves. Cocooning could be a slow procedure, but with the necessity of quarantine, we must take quick action.

This lifestyles phenomenon has necessarily led to the quick design of home offices, not just spare bedrooms, and designated entertainment rooms fashioned as theaters and gaming rooms. We will no doubt be seeing more flat screen televisions in living rooms, hot tubs in garden rooms and more home gyms. 

And we must be creative in satisfying our need to socialize. Of course, there is Zoom, where we can all tune into our social network. My wife Margaret, wishing to see a dear friend in real time, has come up with the idea that we both take our cars to a mall parking lot, park next to each other, roll down the windows and have a normal conversation as though the world is as it was.

In answer to any argument that spending less time outside the home will stall the economy’s recovery, just consider all the new technology, accessories and furnishings we’ll be needing to turn our homes into work and entertainment hubs.

While writing this column on my new laptop, I’m lounging in my pajamas in a comfortable easy chair in my bedroom, intermittently watching TCM on my large screen TV and, in my left-over brain space, enjoying Bette Midler streaming from Netflix on my iPad, while periodically checking for e-mail and voicemails on my iPhone. Case closed.

Bill Primavera, while a writer and editor, is also a realtor associated with William Raveis Real Estate and founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc. ( His real estate site is To engage the talents and services of The Home Guru to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.

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