What will houses look like, and live like, a decade from now?
New Atlas (formerly Gizmag), a science and technology website, recently put that question to Morris Miselowski, a self-described “futurist and transformation provocateur.”
As you might expect, Miselowski says technology will be a big driver, permeating practically every corner of our lives. But he sees a number of other trends that will have taken hold a decade from now, including multifunctional furniture, structures designed to accommodate three generations under a single roof and houses that monitor our health.
These predictions aren’t exactly off-the-wall. Indeed, some aspects have already taken hold. But some of what Miselowski sees coming is rather far out.
For example, he suggests that there will be a major focus on smart surfaces that reduce the amount of work you have to do around the home. He sees such things as self-cleaning cutlery and china, as well as surfaces that tell you when it’s time for a deep clean. He also suggests that windows will be cleaned robotically (as some floors already are).
Miselowski also predicts that floor plans will continue to shrink, and that the typical house won’t be able to accommodate much furniture. Pieces will have to serve more than one purpose. As an example, he mentioned a relatively new robotic furniture system called Ori, which contains a bed, table, bookshelf and other pieces.
Engineered in Massachusetts, the Ori system can be reconfigured instantly, making your space feel substantially larger than it actually is. For what it’s worth, Ori takes its name from “origami,” the Japanese art of folding paper to create beautiful objects.
For the rental market, Miselowski notes the coming trend of rental properties including furniture. He explains that people will be even more transient than they are today – willing to move on short notice, but unable to easily transport big pieces. Therefore, large pieces of furniture like sofas and beds will often come with the property you rent, he says. And as a result, people will be “investing in transportable pieces, such as unique artwork and handcrafted soft furnishings that stamp our personality on the spaces we inhabit.”
Here’s what Miselowski has to say about the multi-generational trend: As property and child care costs continue to rise, more houses will be designed to accommodate three generations living under one roof, with such features as two or more living spaces, a separate kitchenette and a large communal space where all the generations can gather together.
Other houses will feature flexible floor plans with walls that can be moved easily, adapting to occupants’ changing needs throughout the day.
Regarding technology, Miselowski says it will play an ever-increasing part in our lives. A decade from now, he says, “intuitive devices that do the thinking for us will be the norm.” Consider this scenario: “You’ll walk through the door and your home will automatically create a customized environment to suit your needs, including setting the perfect temperature, opening the blinds and suggesting what to have for dinner based on what’s in the fridge.”
Even better, in-home technology will be more seamlessly integrated. Wi-Fi, he points out, has already begun to be integrated into the walls of new builds, giving occupants perfect connectivity anywhere inside.
Technology will have its greatest impact in the kitchen, Miselowki says. “In 10 years’ time, it will be a multipurpose space that shifts smoothly between cooking, dining and entertaining,” he says.
Countertops will come into their own. No longer static objects, the average kitchen counter will perform myriad functions a decade from now: “Touch the surface and it will transform from prep area to induction cooktop or technology station,” the futurist says. “It will perform time-saving tasks, too, such as measuring ingredients and choosing the correct cooking temperatures. The kitchen will be a fully connected space that can monitor the progress of your cooking, connect to social media to discover what your guests like to eat, and tell you whether the milk in the fridge is still fresh.”
Finally, Miselowski notes that attitudes toward property ownership are changing. For baby boomers, owning a home was a sign of success. But their children aren’t so interested. They’ll be long-term renters and lead a more nomadic lifestyle, “happy to pack up their lives and accept that job on the other side of the world.”
The trends of downsizing and moving closer to the city will continue, particularly among boomers. Consequently, he predicts an increase in compact, four- to six-story, inner-city dwellings near public transportation. These homes, he says, will be in mixed-purpose builds, often above shops and cafes.
“There was once a real stigma attached to living in the flat above the shop, so this just proves how much our attitudes have changed in a generation or two,” he says.
Lew Sichelman has been covering real estate for more than 30 years. He is a regular contributor to numerous shelter magazines and housing and housing-finance industry publications. Readers can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.