When you stepped into an apartment kitchen a decade ago, you'd find just the basics: standard white ovens, dishwashers, and refrigerators, and plain cabinets and countertops.
Fast forward to 2005. Today's high-end apartment kitchen often features black, biscuit, or even stainless steel appliance packages, granite countertops with back-splashes, and maple cabinets.
“The major shift from 10 years ago is that we are seeing a lot more money on the kitchens than we have ever seen before,” says Paul Daneshrad, CEO of StarPoint Properties, a Los Angeles-based real estate firm.
These type of product offerings help support today's luxury rent levels, which range as high as $4,000 in some markets. And at those prices, developers are competing with single-family homes, especially in today's low-interest-rate environment. “So the apartment has got to feel like it's got a little bit more single-family quality,” says Daneshrad.
That single-family feel might grow even stronger in the next few years. Developers expect more companies to offer renters customizable options: painting walls, choosing flooring and countertop materials, selecting appliance packages, or changing out lighting fixtures.
One product trend you can count on: more green-friendly products. Here's just one example: Village Green, a Farmington Hills, Mich.-based developer and manager, began focusing on green products in recent years, says Heather Montavani, the company's director of visual merchandising. The company's Medical Dental Arts City Apartments—a renovation project under construction in downtown Chicago—will feature all the latest green products including hardwood flooring, cabinets, and carpeting made from recycled materials, plus high-efficiency windows, lighting, and heating/cooling systems.