As the DMV continues to be a competitive market for multi-family properties, it is even more important for each building’s amenities to stand out in a way that makes them memorable for prospective renters weighing where to move. There are often several underused spaces in any given building that present opportunities to create a wow moment and increase added function for the end-user. This is an especially important consideration for older properties that may not have a lot of square footage dedicated to amenities.
One such property that we were tasked with renovating a couple of years ago was the Residences at Rio in Gaithersburg, MD. We were able to turn an underemployed secondary lobby entrance from just a passageway to a place where residents can stop for morning coffee or even work from home. This was achieved by creating an alcove for a coffee bar with accompanying counter height seating and a TV to catch up on the news. In addition, we added a banquette wall with pull-up tables and chairs. It was also important to make sure that the design felt updated and inviting to welcome residents to use the space.
There are other common underutilized spaces that we often run into in multifamily buildings:
- It is important to think beyond utilitarian to make these spaces feel like a perk or a place people are willing to spend time in.
- Think about adding a fun wall graphic or paint treatment.
- Details don’t have to be so serious. This is the perfect place to incorporate whimsical lighting or artwork.
- Go bold! You’d be surprised what perspective residents remember on tours.
Source Photo: Alswart/Adobe Stock
- Many older properties still have community laundry facilities. These can really turn into dreadful or creepy places to be in, so there is a real opportunity here to stand out.
- This might be the perfect place to add built-in shelving for the lending library to encourage people to spend time there instead of heading straight back to their units. Add in comfortable seating too!
- Pay attention to design details that will make this space feel coordinated and connected to the other common spaces.
- Although the primary function of these spaces is a place to store bikes, there are so many other fun possibilities to incorporate.
- Lighting should appear crisp and bright rather than dull and dingy.
- Infuse color into the space whether that is with a bright paint palette or wall graphic. Adding colorful details to the flooring, ceiling, or even bike racks is another fun option.
- Consider integrating some elements that would promote a trail club. A zone with some seating will help as well as a trail map, bike tools, and a healthy vending machine.
- Corridors are actually the most heavily used common space by all residents, so these also need to be spaces that pay attention to design details.
- Incorporating a custom-designed carpet will enliven renters’ daily experience as they trek through their hallway.
- Look for lighting fixtures that have some personality while also providing appropriate lighting levels for comfortability.
- Adding art at key focal points will create a more curated experience.
- Don’t forget about elevator foyers as these are great places for a custom wall feature, focal furniture, or other fun design detail.
- With current ADA requirements, mailrooms can take up a considerable amount of space, so it is important to be preemptive when designing the amenity space.
- More and more, we like to see mailrooms that feel like a continuation of the lobby instead of closing them off. Dispersing seating in this area can be a great tie-in.
- Pay attention to wall space surrounding the mailboxes. This can be a great place for an interesting mailbox surround or treating the space above with artwork, niches, or shelving.
- Be sure to create more functionality within the space by offering mail counters with integrated recycling.
- Whether at a favorite restaurant or multifamily building, people tend to pay attention to restroom designs so it is important to create some memorable design details that don’t have to break the bank.
- Tiles are often integrated into restroom flooring, walls, and backsplashes so the right tile selection can really elevate the design.
- Select thoughtful mirrors and plumbing fixtures to stand out from the crowd.
From all of us here at SRA- Happy New Year!