Covid-19 may change the style of your kitchen design. If you’re playing your part and practicing social distancing from inside your house, you might start to notice tiny details of your residence or apartment; you had not thought about before–such as your old home does not have enough closet space or the way white subway tile became universal. You might be wondering if there is anything you can do–besides the cleaning and disinfecting process–to help keep your house as virus-free as possible throughout the coronavirus outbreak.
Whether you realize it or not, lots of the design features in our houses now originated or were universalized, due to past infectious disease outbreaks, such as tuberculosis, 1918 flu pandemic, and infection of the intestines called dysentery. There’s a long, very intriguing history of the intersection of architecture, health, and design going back to ancient times.
However, we are going to jump ahead to the late 19th and early 20th centuries to concentrate on architectural and design features you could find in your house today. Here are a couple of examples of home design components tied to attempts to prevent or slow the spread of infectious disease.
Though household closets have existed in some form for centuries, what we think of as the place where we store our garments is a more recent invention. In reality, when visiting (or living in) older American houses or apartments, you’ve apparently noticed the lack of closet space.
That is because, up until the start of the 20th century, most clothing and related items were stored in stand-alone furniture. “It was that virtually everything was in armoires,” Lloyd Alter, a former historian and design architect who is now teacher sustainable design at Ryerson School of Interior Design, describes Clever. “When you see the plans from the turn of the century, the cabinets are tiny, tiny, tiny–if they exist at all.”
The switch to cabinets was to build rooms easier to clean. Bulky furniture things like armoires were hard to maneuver and therefore collected dust, which was considered to pass along germs. From the mid-1920s, Le Corbusier was addressing the significance of cleanliness, minimalism, and cleanliness in home design, supporting for built-ins through the home, which eventually became the standard.
White Kitchen Tiles and Linoleum
Turn on any HGTV house makeover show, and there is an excellent chance that their kitchen design includes a hideous paint job or scraping off peeling wallpaper and replacing it with white subway tiles. And why not? They are easy-to-clean, glistening, and classic.
They might make you feel as if your kitchen design is a more hygienic place, and that is precisely the idea. From the late 19th century, as people were starting to understand how infectious diseases spread, public buildings–hospitals mainly –installed white tiles so workers could instantly spot any grime or dirt, and wipe it clean. An early American chain,
Childs Restaurant embraced white subway tiles to implore the hygienic environment of a hospital and make people feel safe eating there in a time when foodborne diseases like botulism, typhoid, and trichinosis were a significant public health concern. Along with tiles, linoleum replaced hardwood flooring and oilcloth as the sanitary floor of choice, also thanks to being easy to clean.
If you’ve noticed a room protruding from the second floor of a Victorian house that doesn’t appear like it quite fits with the rest of the home, it’s likely a sleeping porch. Although porches themselves have been around for quite a very long time, and have been used as space to sleep while escaping the summer temperature, sleeping porches became prevalent throughout the tuberculosis outbreak of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
At a time before antibiotics, sun and air were the best-known “cures” for the deadly infection. A small mountain city in upstate New York called Saranac Lake attracted health-seekers from all around the country who came to choose the “fresh air cure” in one of the village’s many “cure cottages ” and sanatoria and.
These cure cottages comprised “cure porches,” where people with tuberculosis could rest outside. Based on Mary Hotaling, the architectural historian, Historic Saranac Lake, the distinction between sleeping porches and cure porches is that sleeping porches were generally added onto the second or third floor of a home that was already constructed, while cure porches were an essential part of the design of cure cottages from the starting.
People dealing with tuberculosis also flocked to the American Southwest–Tucson specifically. “One thing that we have because of tuberculosis is the Arizona room,’ which was mostly a sleeping porch,” an architectural consultant and historian with Logan Simpson, Jennifer Levstik, informs Clever. “They are essentially porches which are screened in and generally on the back of the home –and that is something which was a part of treating the illness.”
Powder Rooms–or half bathrooms on the ground floor of a house near the front door–are the result of the attempt to stop the spread of infectious diseases in the early 20th century. These were the days of getting daily ice and coal deliveries: “There was no Amazon man delivering it at the door and taking a photo of it for you,” states Dr. Kelly Wright, teacher of American history at the University of Cincinnati and specializes in the historical use of color in architecture.
To put it differently, at least one delivery person daily would traipse inside your home after being inside different houses, including somewhere people may have been ill with something infectious. “The iceman is coming directly into your kitchen design, and if the iceman wants to use the restroom, you do not want him to use your family bathroom.
Therefore the half bath made a good choice for visitors to the home.” And, since Alter points out, having an open sink on the ground floor of houses made it convenient for people to wash their hands–that, as we have been reminded of a lot recently, is important for health and hygiene.
At this, it’s too early to tell what sort of house design innovations will come with the COVID-19 pandemic, but possibilities are good that features to help stop or prevent the spread of infections will be top of mind again. Alter prophesies the arrival of the vestibule –this time, with a sink immediately as you enter.
This would serve as a transition zone between the interior of the home and the world, providing people who enter the change to remove dirty shoes and clothes and wash their hands. If an outbreak like the coronavirus becomes the new standard, we may observe the influence of the “sanitation craze” in our home layout again, primarily if the sterility could also provide some peace.