Study Room: The New Must-Have in City Homes


The pandemic has made people rethink their home designs. PHOTO | NMG

When Covid-19 pandemic confined Kenyans to their homes, a majority started rethinking their small kitchens, tiny balconies, cluttered bedrooms and just the lack of extra space to comfortably work from.

From home offices, small gardens around the house or on balconies, a courtyard or terrace where one can have breakfast in the morning or just unwind in the afternoons, and in-house gyms to bunkers and fortified landings, Kenyans now want these additions in future homes.

For Tony Burudi, a businessman who lives in Nairobi’s Embakasi with his family of four, the quarantine season has opened his eyes to the need for a study or a home office.

Tony, who is working from home has been forced to convert a section of the master bedroom of his three-bedroomed house into a home office. He says developers should incorporate these features into the house, even if it will mean higher rents.

“Alternatively, developers can make bigger living rooms so that the occupants can set up their own working stations possibly at one corner of the room. But study rooms are a worthwhile addition in future home design trends,” he says.

Play areas and spaces for exercising have also become a necessity, according to Tony who, together with a number of their neighbours have been forced to convert their parking spaces into workout areas.

These spaces however have their shortcomings. With the quarantine and hence minimal travel, they are usually occupied by the residents’ cars.

Veronica Nyambura, a communications assistant who lives in Thindigwa, Kiambu, says developers ill-advisedly fit as many houses in as minimal space as possible, making it hard for buyers or renters to enjoy the bliss of having these extra rooms.

“Confinement indoors tends to be tedious. People prefer open spaces even in the midst of their restrictions. This is why small gardens with greeneries around the house can be therapeutic. But a home library, a study or home office, are important too,” she says, adding that she is lucky that her residence has sufficient open spaces for playing fields and outdoor exercises.

Patios and courtyards, she adds, are also important in the home; where the family members can relax after being indoors for long.

Amos Kabiru, an internal accountant, who lives in Nairobi’s Ruaka notes that other than a home study, a pantry should be another key additional feature.

“Sometimes I leave work late and when I get home, shops and grocery stores are always closed. Being able to keep sufficient food for long is essential,” says Amos, who has also had converted a section of his living room into a home office.

He cites other features including a small outdoors space for a mini-gym where one can mount a treadmill, as well as small gardening spaces around the house for growing fresh vegetables as must-have in future homes.

Lilian Nzula‎, the managing director of property investment firm, EnkaVilla Properties admits that the pandemic has made people rethink their home designs and plans.

“Before the Covid-19 pandemic, developers and homeowners had already started embracing the outdoor aspect in building. The market is willing to pay an extra coin to have the comfort they are always looking for. We are dealing with a market that is aware of their desires and stops at nothing to enjoy the social aspect of their residential areas,” says Lilian.

Lilian notes that post-Covid, many people will want bigger courtyards in their homes, a sundeck, swimming pools and play areas. These may cause an increase of up to 30 percent in the value of the development, he says.

“People will not just build houses for the sake of it but looking out for a great experience as they stay indoors,” says Lilian.

She further notes that in due course, people will be keener on building their own homes than buying ready units. There will be, she says, a surge in demand and an increase in people looking to buy or construct own homes.

The usually considered satellite towns, she indicates, are going to receive an influx of city-dwellers looking to develop and own homes without a huge price tag.

“They will be looking for places where they can have their children play and enjoy outdoor activities without too much restrictions and risks involved,” she says.

However, Elly Yuaya, the sales manager at realty firm, Rama Homes sees no shift in home designs. “I really do not see much changing in housing designs. But mostly changes will be on plot sizes –to create more space for the home and possibly accommodate more outdoorsy amenities– and integration of more greenery,” he says.

Many are now keen on shifting from highly crowded plans to those that are less crowded and offer open spaces. Design-wise, he says, lighting –whether natural or artificial– is becoming a key factor that many will consider.

“As days go by, there will be more consideration of outdoor amenities as people look to achieve that outdoorsy feel and also cropping up of gated communities in the future,” says Elly.