The end of the decade has us thinking about how much the home — and our approach to domesticity — has changed in the last ten years. Not only has smart technology brought a new world of possibilities to how we manage our homes but so too has there been a shift in our concept of what the home symbolises for us; more than a roof over our heads but also a haven for self-care and a heavily optimised space for our wellbeing.
As the climate of sky-high property prices and the renters economy threatened to alienate us from the concept of home — certainly homeownership — conversely there’s been a shift to spending more time indoors. Millennials have been described as a “generation of homebodies”, with Quartz publishing a piece on the modern hermit trend for them to not want to leave their homes as much as the generation of “club rats” before them did.
In part, it was down to streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime negating the need to head out to the cinema or be at the mercy of some television channel’s programming schedule. Although Netflix streaming started in 2007, it was in 2013 that House of Cards debuted, the first Netflix-produced show. So followed a new aspect of our social lives which became the boxset as a form of social participation; we could sit on the sofa binging on TV while simultaneously contributing to a mainstream cultural movement (and discussion) around the show being aired. Gradually as series like Orange Is The New Black hit our screens, TV programmes become more popular while also becoming more niche, more relevant, more activist and more zeitgeisty. Coupled with the rise in social media as a legitimate mouthpiece, we were able to consume, learn and share more from the comfort of our homes, and participate in bigger conversations that were going on around equality, sexuality, #MeToo without hitting the streets were activism once lived.
Alongside our increasingly homeward bound habits were new opportunities created for at-home businesses and side hustles. The beauty of the Facebook business page and 2012 acquisition of Instagram, plus the important launch of Instagram stories, made the cost of entry for new businesses a lot lower and ads cheaper. The notion of entrepreneurship invaded popular culture, with Forbes writing in 2017 that the “Golden Age of entrepreneurs is now”. What this also did for stay-at-home mums/dads and those who wanted to work from home was big. It became easier to set up and market an eCommerce shop without leaving the house, as well as monetising your writing with sites like Medium and monetising your image or digital content with Instagram. Why leave the house?
In the second half of the decade another buzzword — and serious shift — was towards Wellness. This impacted our relationship with our living spaces in a number of ways. In our careers, the notion of working from home became more of a prominent feature of staff benefits, tailoring work to fit longer commutes, health needs, family setups and an increasingly digital culture where you didn’t always need to be in the office to get your work done. Employers started looking more at ways to safeguard the mental and physical health of their employees, which meant more flexibility about where they could work.
Additionally, Generation Wellness become fascinated by the beauty of sleep, and the literature and products flooding the market to help us sleep better at home. In 2014 Eve mattresses launched, an exciting startup that promised “the world’s most comfortable mattress”, growing quickly and raising millions with its strong social media brand presence and savvy marketing to a population of sleep-deprived, always-on workers. More mattress companies followed suit, alongside new technologies like noise-masking sleepbuds, timer-controlled smart blinds for the home, and the first time we were to meet Alexa. Launched in 2014 Alexa could be considered the single most impressive technological introduction to our homes that decade, a digital assistant who could wake us up, play our music, order our food, keep us informed on the news and keep our domestic lives ticking over without even having to leave our beds.
Alongside the audio abilities of Alexa, came the increased use of audio apps in the home, for mediation, for sleep, and for mindfulness. Headspace launched in 2012 bringing meditation into the mainstream, followed by the launch of Calm in 2016 which quickly blew up into the number one app for meditation and sleep. Our fascination with sleep was also spurred on by the release of Matthew Walker’s Why We Sleep in 2017, becoming a bestseller and fuelling discussions around our bedroom habits.
On top of smart technology in the home — and the big at home fitness breakout that was Peleton bikes — we also saw the launch of Made.com in 2010, signaling a wave of more accessible and affordable interior design for the home. Hand in hand with our obsession with documenting every visual aspect of our lives came affordable good-looking furniture brands like Made.com, as well as the increasing popularity of high street fashion brands moving into interiors, with H&M Home opening its first standalone store in 2018.
As we became more house proud we also became busier and more perfectionist when it came to our homes, leaning on new startups like Zipjet to do our laundry and Handy to book us cleaners, keeping things ticking over domestically as we focussed on work. We hurtled towards the end of the decade working harder than ever but simultaneously expecting more than ever from our home lives, living in a global digital culture of instaquotes telling us we could have it all, while also advising us to make space at home for “me time”, soak in a bubble bath and meditate.
2020 looms and the future is bright but what we know more than ever is that the pace and progress of this decade have made time our most valuable resource. We move into the new year looking for a greater sense of calm and time spent on the things that matter. We look to 2020 with hope for all the progress that technology will continue to bring, but also a response to our need for time to live, love and learn. In 2020 HomeHero stands firm to a mission of freeing up time spent on the household To-Do list, to spend on the things that really matter. And we hope to be part of a bigger movement that works to readdress the home/work balance.
Here’s to a 2020 of time well spent.