The New Cocooning and the Home Features it Inspires

By Bill Primavera

Like most people, I’m stuck at home thinking about what is going on outside of the safety and isolation of my home.

Life as we knew it has changed dramatically during this pandemic. Many questions and scenarios run through my mind. As a realtor, I think about my Yorktown home and its value, both financial and emotional. How will that change as time passes? How will we be living in our homes in the future? Right now, my home primarily means good health and safety for my wife and me. I’ll worry about the value later.

As my thoughts wander, I remember an article I wrote nearly 10 years ago about thought leader and futurist Faith Popcorn. If you’re part of Gen X or a boomer, you might recall that she coined the term “cocooning.” Her book, The Popcorn Report, came out in 1991 and described a movement where humans would evolve by living and working from home.

Cocooning was not a just a fad, but a certain and constantly evolving trend. Having identified it in the 1980s, she has proven to be spot-on correct. Cocooning, she said, was the impulse to go inside when it just gets too tough and scary outside, pulling a shell of safety around yourself so you’re not at the mercy of a mean, unpredictable world – from rude waiters and noise pollution to crime, recession and now COVID-19. Cocooning is about insulation and avoidance, peace and protection, coziness and control, a sort of hyper-nesting.

The trend toward cocooning surfaced in many facets of our lives. For example, there were businesses like Blockbuster. Instead of going to the movies, we brought them home. Take-out and fast food became even more prevalent.

In the ’90s, the internet only intensified cocooning. We started online banking, online shopping, online dating, online everything! Thanks to the web, we can do almost anything from the comfort of our homes. Also, alternative work schedules and working from home evolved from pilot programs. Working from home now, if we have that luxury, is no longer a lifestyle choice, it’s a necessity.

In 2020, cocooning is critically important in prevailing over the coronavirus. We are all forced to be home for our health. Only essential employees can venture out into the world. Zoom and Webex have skyrocketed in popularity. Most every child has some video-conferencing app set up on a phone or computer. We don’t know how many months this will continue and how long we will be staying at home.        

Will we continue to be home-focused when this is over? Or will we all stay out more, with our new-found freedom? My prediction is high levels of cocooning will continue.

Now that I’m sheltered in place, I notice more what I really like about my home. My wife and I have spent our lives perfecting it as a source of utmost utility, comfort and visual beauty.

Home is where the heart is, they say. But now home is also where the head is and the rest of your body, too, almost all the time. Home is everything during a pandemic, which is impacting the way our homes look and function.

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 the lifestyles trend is aided and abetted by 21st century technology. The trend today might be renamed e-cocooning.

Did the world change or did we ourselves change? The pandemic has rapidly accelerated the change, and we must change along with it to survive.

This lifestyles phenomenon will be leading to the design of official home offices, not just spare bedrooms, and designated entertainment rooms fashioned as theaters and gaming rooms. We will see more flat screen TVs in living rooms, hot tubs in garden rooms, more home gyms and more open kitchens where homeowners can entertain guests and cook at the same time. 

We’re also more likely to be community-centric as big city entertainment reaches out to the stay-at-home crowd in the suburbs. Rather than traveling to the city for the kind of entertainment I enjoy, I’m more likely to stay in Westchester. When they reopen, I’ll visit Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford, the Jacob Burns
Film Center in Pleasantville or Yorktown Stage in my own town.

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

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

Bill Primavera, while a writer and public relations practitioner, is also a licensed realtor (PrimaveraHomes.com), affiliated with William Raveis and a marketing practitioner (PrimaveraPR.com). Anyone considering selling or buying a home can reach him directly at 914-522-2076.

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