With boomers and millennials renting at unprecedented rates, apartment executives seeking to attract these two groups need to know the features they desire in a community. Chief among them is something seemingly every consumer wants more of today: storage. The challenge of providing it, however—in leaner living spaces, especially—means multifamily owners must up their game when it comes to both space and storage versatility.

After conducting some deep research and talking with several industry experts, here’s what we’ve learned are the storage trends that have renters opening up their wallets to optimize their lifestyles.

Making It All Fit
Smart spaces accomplish several unique goals at once: They provide enough room for the things that really matter, enhance the overall aesthetic of the home, and do it all with clever access that improves quality of life.

“Space is always at a premium, but even more so in multifamily developments,” says Scott Kaminski, marketing communications and public relations manager for furniture and architectural hardware dealer Häfele America Co. “You want to be sure everything you add to the space increases both functionality and value. Simply put, you need to be strategic with items you choose, how they operate, and the effect they have—on both other areas of the space and the people living there—when they’re in use.”

Designers seem to be taking these words to heart as they continue to refine multifamily storage spaces to meet the fluid needs of consumers.

Designs That Drive Sales
Of course, the goal of any smartly designed home is to reduce the outside needs and influences required to enable residents to live their lifestyles. That means fewer stand-alone storage pieces and more spaces built into the residence itself.

According to Kaminski, reclaiming previously untapped space is a huge trend right now. In the kitchen, for example, cabinet doors that open up rather than out can help maximize usable space in a small apartment.

There are a variety of other smart-space ideas to consider as well, including:

• Backsplash storage: Backsplash rail systems can offer modular storage for utensils, spices, potholders, and even cookbooks.

Closets: Fully extending folding stations, storage drawers, racks, and hampers that can be grabbed with one hand can be configured for practically any size space.

The cornerstone of all these trends is commonsense functionality delivered in an artistic fashion. With a greater emphasis on design, multifamily dwellings that feature these trends will have a decided edge on the competition.

Considering the inherent cultural differences between boomers and millennials, arriving at a single agreeable style of furniture or closet finish for both generations requires some strategy. Manufacturers that are meeting this challenge head on are experimenting with multiple styles and combining them into a diverse mix of finishes. Gray hues and repurposed materials, for example, are popular right now in the building and interior design industries and can appeal to both boomers and millennials.

The Evolution of Smart Storage
Just as important as staying on top of the latest smart-space trends is anticipating the future. As societies and communities evolve, multifamily storage options must meet both urban and environmental challenges.

“I think there’s a lot of attention being placed on higher-quality, longer-lasting, space-saving design,” says Calais McGuinness, director of business development for California Closets. “With the emergence of the tiny house and the heavy focus on ‘green living,’ smart design that’s made to withstand the test of time is a must in the future.”

If the past is any indication, the smart-space market is indeed on track to meet the needs of the multifamily market. As function guides form and accessibility meets art, manufacturers and builders will continue to work together in the perpetual search for the perfect space.