multi-family housing design trends

Real estate developers across the nation prepare themselves for the reality that office spaces will have smaller footprints as employees insist on hybrid working conditions and companies may not feel the need to invest in large, expensive, branded workspaces.Developers are looking at existing office parks, factories, shopping malls and urban office towers, determining how they can best maximize the revenue generated from the available square footage. The prediction among many design pundits?Multi-family housing developments in previously non-residential spaces.

There are several design trends popping up as multi-family housing expands. Jane Hamley Wells explores just a few.

amenities. amenities amenities.

Many new apartment and condo complexes have become less about square footage and more about the amenities they offer. The millennial renter is keen on having top-of-the-line amenities in their living space, marrying the hospitality setting with the residential setting.

“Residents are expecting these amenities, and without them it can be hard to compete,” said Corina Folts, Associate/Certified Interior Designer at SWBR. “These spaces not only provide a way to meet with neighbors but allow residents an extension to their home that they can enjoy in a way that suits them.”

co-working common spaces

One multi-family design trend that is being embraced is the creation of common workspaces incorporated into a residential setting. Americans who have worked from home for most of 2020 and 2021 are insisting on post-pandemic hybrid working ie: less time commuting and less time physically in the office, more time with family.  Multi-family housing developers will need to meet the demands of this work force by incorporating WeWork-style workspaces to attract and retain residents. The spaces will include cubicle-like, heads-down pods along with larger gathering or meeting spaces for collaborative work.

seamless design — indoor to outdoor spaces

Multi-family dwellers value outdoor space, and developers want to provide it to them. From covered/uncovered rooftop decks to curated courtyards, outdoor spaces are a key point of differentiation to attract tenants in multi-family housing developments.Indoor/outdoor flow for workspaces is especially valued. Designers are consciously creating ‘seamless designs’ that connect indoor and outdoor spaces with a consistent look and feel. Seamless design means that the furniture, carpets, color palettes, etc. start indoors and move outdoors with a consistent or seamless transition. The Jane Hamley Wells Jazz and Julene outdoor chairs allow designers to specify beautiful products that easily move from indoor to outdoor.

“Grab-and-go food kiosk areas, with prepared sandwiches and salads, will give residents the option of grabbing a snack without having to venture out or calling a delivery service.”

— Mary Kay Sunset, Semple Brown Design

“Identifying high-impact areas and allocating custom details to key areas is a budget-friendly strategy to create the best experience for the end user while designing responsibly.”

— Paige Byrd, Thiel and Thiel

drink & dining options

With more hybrid or work-from-home options in a post-pandemic world, the expectation is that people will generally socialize close to their apartment buildings. Mary Kay Sunset, principal at Denver-based Semple Brown Design says multi-family housing will need to mimic hospitality and “provide choices such as in-house bars and cafés where residents can sit and enjoy a drink and appetizer while socializing with their neighbors.” 

touchless tech

To help mitigate the spread of viruses, many residential communities will adopt touchless technologies that reduce person-to-person contact with surfaces. According to David Wolf, president and CEO of Wolf Development Strategies, these offerings include “virtual doorman systems that enhance security and service at non-doorman buildings and offer operational savings for properties that have historically had concierge staff. These features, along with automated doors and fixtures, will become more standard in 2021 and beyond.”

James Wong

high-end timeless

High-end design elements, from flooring and lighting to furnishings and décor, have always been popular among millennials, the largest demographic of renter. But there is a new, secondary focus for this multi-family design trend – high-end timeless.

The high-end timeless trend addresses aesthetic concerns for owners and designers of multi-family settings. Well-crafted, durable, classic designs are in demand in multi-family housing.

“99% of projects are a fine balance of budget while creating a high-end aesthetic,” said Paige Byrd, Partner and ID Director at Thiel and Thiel. “As we study plans, we identify key elevations and areas with the highest impact. Not every wall can receive a custom millwork feature, custom artwork installation or oversized lighting feature. Identifying high-impact areas and allocating custom details to key areas is a budget-friendly strategy to create the best experience for the end user while designing responsibly.”

By incorporating high-end timeless pieces such as the Jane Hamley Wells BEO chair – multi-family settings can always appear modern and trendy.

Credits: Interior Design, Hospitality Design,, Parterre