By Jillian D’Amato and Janine Byrne
The amenity war is at an all-time high — pet spas and fitness studios are standard fare, and anything less can be detrimental to leasing percentages. As interior designers, we are privy to today’s trends, working with clients on both newly constructed and existing buildings. We bring our design expertise on what’s new to refresh what’s old. Older buildings may show their age with theatre rooms and outdated, underutilized lobbies, which can dissuade renters. Aging buildings need reworking to keep up with competitors. Lobby and amenity refreshes can transform the persona of an apartment building — turning what was drab to an attractive selling point. Our experience has given us insight into the methods to win the amenity war and attract new clientele, even in older buildings.
Coworking from home
Effectively support telecommuters by creating office-like spaces outside of their apartment walls. Varied spaces such as think tanks, quiet niches, and communal tables draw from the coworking trend to create space to study alone or work with a team. At the Element in Allston, Mass., a colorful, eclectic environment paired with a techy coworking table can be an impromptu gathering space or study hub for tenants and their clients.
Don’t forget the corridors
An amenity and public space refresh is an ideal opportunity to rebrand an existing building. Instead of stopping at the lobby, consider simple updates to overlooked but often used spaces such as corridors and unit entries. A paint color change, new signage and light fixtures in the halls can upgrade an entire building. At Station Landing in Medford, Mass., we designed the corridors to compliment the overall amenity refresh. This helped transform the entire look and feel of the building.
Take inspiration from boutique hotels
Whether a new design or an update, look to boutique hotels for inspiration for your amenity spaces. Typically, there are a multitude of spaces to sit, linger, or hang out in hotel lobbies. In a multifamily building, seating can be grouped to allow distinct groups to simultaneously use the same amenity. Taking cues from the hospitality industry makes your space inviting. For example, outdoor elements such as cabana seating and fireplaces are a touch of luxury that will elevate your roof deck amenity. Thinking like a hotelier gives buildings the wow factor that makes people want to hang out and use the amenities provided.
Clean up clutter to let your space shine
The lobby is the first thing tenants and prospective renters see when they enter your building. We often see older buildings with underutilized lobbies and stacks of cardboard boxes. In today’s world of eCommerce, packages pile up in the mail room and spill out of leasing offices into the lobby. Package management systems are a simple fix and an amenity within themselves, keeping packages secure and even offering refrigeration for grocery or floral delivery. The most beautiful, well programmed lobby can still be marred by an abundance of boxes — so why not manage this?
Encourage interaction and engagement
The best amenity spaces draw people in. There should be space for tenants to socialize and linger. Curate events to activate the space and build connections between the apartment communities. At Veridian in Portsmouth, N.H., a newly constructed 94-unit multifamily building, the lobby spaces are programmed such that residents refer to their building as “a small commune.” By activating spaces with movie nights, wine and cheese tastings, game nights, and other mix-and-mingle events, building managers can create memorable social experiences for their tenants. A friendly, active environment is a draw to today’s renters.
These five things will help you upgrade your building amenities with ease. In addition, monitoring current and upcoming design and living trends to stay on top of what’s new and what’s old can give you the knowledge to create an amenity space that will stand the test of time. Upcoming trends, from makerspaces and arcades, to expo kitchens and mindfulness rooms, will continue to transform life outside of apartment’s walls, bringing the living room to the lobby. As these trends come and go, an amenities refresh will always be an option to keep your building competitive and up-to-date.
Jillian D’Amato and Janine Bryne are in the architectural and interior design practice of PCA.