Story 1

About 25 years ago I ran into an architect on Main Street in Nantucket. He was doing renovations on a bungalow we were expanding after our son was born. He asked me a strange question, “Do you know how the market’s doing today?” I didn’t. I wasn’t the market type and he didn’t seem the type either (whatever the “market type” is, I don’t really know.)

In fact, I said, “you don’t impress me as the market type.” He said he’s not “but the better the market is doing, the higher the square footage requests.”

Story 2

Peggy and I went for a ride the other day around one of our running routes. She said I wouldn’t believe the size of some of the new homes on a beach road, in Milford. Sure enough, these homes that just shot up were at least a 3rd to double, maybe triple, the size of most of the others that were built 30+ years ago — trophy homes next to modest beach cottages with hardly any daylight between them.

You don’t need to be an architect to understand that architecture, both in scope and style, reflects the economic conditions of the day.

And it makes me wonder about the impact of the coronavirus on the neighborhoods of the future.

Our housing stock is the legacy of not only the economy, but the contemporary mores and priorities.

For my eye, the recent spate of houses — not all, but many — are gaudy and show-offy. Sure, the market had been good for the past few years. Money was rolling into these homes like a tide during a storm.

Now, however, things are different. And when the world re-opens, market forces may not drive people to build trophy homes so quickly. Public sensibilities may, indeed, be changing.

I, for one, won’t miss it. Too much of our economic boon was spent on Victorian copper rain gutters and marble tables and not on roofs over the heads of the homeless or food on the tables of the nutritionally challenged.

Certainly, we’re hoping that our communities will be dotted with ample, comfortable and prideful facilities to assist those in need.

But what else about the new look of our communities? Will dining rooms be bigger to allow for social distancing, or smaller because we won’t be inviting as many people over anymore?

Will kitchens be larger to accommodate heavy-duty pantry loading and fewer trips to the grocery store and likely fewer restaurant meals? I suppose they will also need more room for larger stocks of disinfectants, sanitizers, paper towels. More real estate agents and builders will be promoting home office amenities, no doubt as how we work as a society will be changing in every respect.

The new space could come at the expense of guest rooms and those big closets where we used to keep suitcases.

How will our living arrangements adapt to if there is a baby boom (no sure thing, given these circumstances)? Maybe more, but smaller bedrooms, and perhaps a smaller house footprint makes way for more greenspace, swings, sandboxes, gardens not to mention ample room for six feet distancing. And it’s likely those swings and sandboxes will be built larger to accommodate for more separation.

I’m hoping for simple lines and openness. Anything more will be an affront to the victims of the virus.

I suppose there is no vaccine for crime, so many living quarters will still have burglar alarms. But one thing that is almost certain, we will never again feel as safe in our homes as we did just two months ago, no matter the design.

As I’m musing about this uncertain future of ours and what it may look like, I’m awe struck. I need to take a deep breath and just realize for a stark moment how stunning our world has changed in just two months.

It’s just staggering.

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Two upbeat tunes about houses. We could use a little bit of upbeat.

House in the Country by Blood, Sweat & Tears

House at Pooh Corner by Loggins & Messina

Entrepreneur, Founder of CRN International and Connecticut Radio Network, Writer, Broadcaster.