Swimming pools. Fitness centers. Off-the-shelf preframed artwork. It's your standard list of clubhouse offerings found in most multifamily communities. But what if you took your clubhouse to the next level? Imagine the reaction of prospective residents when they see your 24-hour, state-of-the-art fitness center with personal trainers and Olympic-size swimming pool, the commissioned sculptures and artwork, stylish furniture that matches, or the multimedia theater, complete with surround-sound. As the location for most leasing offices, the clubhouse needs to make the prospect say, "Wow, I want to live here." And with proper planning and know-how, multifamily developers can successfully appeal to the renters-by-choice market.

Know Your Market

Renters are seeking an experience–they want their apartment homes to be more than a place to sleep and eat dinner. With this greater emphasis of lifestyle, flexibility, and convenience, the clubhouse has become a vital part of multifamily communities–and an extension of residents' homes. But before you hunker down to design a new space, you need to know who your potential residents are and what they want.

The clubhouse at Legacy at Studio City, in Studio City, Calif., was designed to appeal to people accustomed to a fun, fast, and exciting lifestyle.

"It's critical to get detailed information about potential residents from the builder in the beginning," says Victoria Currens, principal with Style Interior Design based in Irvine, Calif. "We like to collaborate with builders at every stage of the project. First and foremost, you have to determine how the space is going to function and who will use it because this influences most design decisions."

For instance, Legacy Residential Partners Inc. targeted its community–Legacy at Studio City in Studio City, Calif.–to a younger renter profile by decorating its clubhouse with trendy, cutting edge style, using bright colors. The clubhouse offers high-class amenities, such as a spa and steam room, a gourmet coffee bar, and multiple fireplaces, intended to attract young, hip professionals willing to pay premium rents for this area. The monthly rents range from $1,430 to $3,900.

Stone, metal, and a variety of green hues were used throughout. And, as a nod to its Hollywood location, an assortment of black and white photographs of musicians such as Kurt Cobain, Bob Dylan, and Jim Morrison, adorn the walls. "This clubhouse has a Hard Rock Café feel to it," says Eric Olsen, associate with Thomas P. Cox: Architects of Irvine, the architect of the project.

"We needed to appeal to people who are accustomed to a fun, fast, and exciting lifestyle," says Thom Cox, principal of Thomas P. Cox: Architects. The upscale apartment community is in a prime location off Ventura Boulevard among trendy nightclubs, restaurants, shops, and neighborhood retail outlets, so the clubhouse was designed to match its surrounding environment.