As apartment residents pay ever-higher rents, they expect more for their money.
The national average asking rent skyrocketed to a new all-time high of $1,706 in June, and apartment designers say residents aren’t willing to settle for ho-hum interiors in shared spaces or in their individual units.
Beyond granite countertops, pools and dog parks, they are demanding higher levels of aesthetics throughout a community.
“We’re creating a lifestyle experience for the multifamily resident that you would experience in a really nice luxury resort,” Paige Byrd, co-president of Dallas-based architecture and interior design firm Thiel & Thiel told Multifamily Dive.
Here’s what’s hot — and getting hotter.
Outdoor access. From CrossFit exercise yards to meditation gardens to private balconies — which have become a necessity, not a luxury — multifamily properties are maximizing residents’ ability to get outside like they never have before.
“We’re building a lot more outdoor amenity space,” said Alison Mills, vice president of residential design and development for Chicago-based real estate and development company CRG, which develops multifamily projects nationwide. “There’s huge demand for private outdoor space – even in markets where it snows, people want to be able to get outside.”
Larger units. Residents are seeking more square footage, whether to accommodate a remote workspace or roommates to help pay higher rents. Milwaukee-based architecture firm Kahler Slater’s analytics show that units with home offices, ample closets and flexible layouts are leasing first, while smaller units are turning over more quickly.
Remote workspaces. Co-working spaces are now as standard as pools and fitness rooms in luxury buildings, and investors, along with residents, want private work booths with multimedia walls and soundproofing. (Some owners are renting those spaces on a monthly basis, creating a revenue stream.)
Wi-Fi is being extended to outdoor spaces furnished to accommodate residents working on laptops. “The value of being able to take meetings and work outside is enormous,” said Darin Schoolmeester, a principal at KTGY.
Pet pampering. “Pet spas are getting fancier, and bark parks are getting more plush,” said Mary Cook, president of Chicago-based design firm Mary Cook Associates. Pet playgrounds and indoor lounges foster socialization for both dogs and their owners, and some properties are offering doggie day care, dog-walking services and pet-friendly events.
Package management. With some residents getting two packages or more a day, the mail room is no longer an afterthought, said Mills. Package rooms are moving from the back of the building to prime space near the lobby and taking on a higher level of design, with comfortable spaces for residents to open packages, sort through mail and socialize.
Security in these spaces is crucial, and refrigerated receptacles for food deliveries are often included.
Color splashes. The “graying of America” that took over interior design in the 2010s is officially over, designers say.
“We’re finally starting to see more pops of color,” including warmer, earthier tones like blush, musky blues and willow greens, said interior designer Corina Folts of Rochester, New York-based multidisciplinary design firm SWBR. The firm recently took the bold step of specing navy blue cabinetry — and the property sold immediately.
Music. From the lobby to the demo kitchen to the meditation and yoga room, carefully curated background music — although not a design element per se — is now a key part of residents’ experience.
“Background music, like what you hear in hotel lobbies, creates an ambience that allows people to work productively at all hours of the day,” said Dan Cocoziello, principal and managing director, capital markets and treasury at Bedminster, New Jersey-based investment, development and management company Advance Realty Investors.