When MP Studio designers first visited the clubhouse at Bella Vida Estates in Plano, Texas, the décor provided something of a time warp.

A photo of the Bella Vida clubhouse before renovations began.
A photo of the Bella Vida clubhouse before renovations began.

“In the initial walkthrough, it was extremely dated," says design director Shana Jacobs. "The design was from the ’90s. There was a ton of applied ornamentation everywhere.” 

The room was also darkened by ubiquitous forest green paint and stained oak finishes. MP Studio’s mission was to make it contemporary and inviting, using a revitalized color palette with bright accents and more modern fixtures.

With the project now close to completion, Jacobs and Biddle are pleased with the transformation the space has undergone. “It has a freshness to it,” says lead designer Brittany Biddle. “It’s less heavy.”

A rendering of MP Studio's design scheme for its clubhouse renovation at Bella Vida.
Z Architectural Rendering A rendering of MP Studio's design scheme for its clubhouse renovation at Bella Vida.

This clean, light, and bright feel has been a major trend for multifamily property owners, Biddle adds. “Multi-tenant clients are not afraid to let us use new products and push limits.”

As more new communities make deluxe amenities standard, it’s not surprising that many owners and managers are looking to draw in tenants by upgrading their facilities

“Every builder and designer wants to provide the nicest space possible,” Jacobs says. “It is the first impression when someone comes in to lease.”

Below are seven main takeaways from Jacobs and Biddle about the strategies they used for the project, and how property owners can employ similar tactics in their own building makeovers.

  1. Embrace green space.  At the Bella Vida clubhouse, Jacobs and Biddle incorporated the outdoors in multiple ways, such as including succulents in seating areas and using doors with window panes instead of solid wood to improve natural light flow. They also replaced windows overlooking the outside pool, using a single pane to open up the view, and brought two 10-foot trees inside the 24-foot-high space.
  2. Take advantage of updated classics, like tile. While the choice has always been popular for its lower cost and higher durability, Biddle says that there has been a great surge in the product’s aesthetics. “There have been a lot of beautiful tile designs this year: brick looks, herring bone tiles, large cement tiles. Tile right now is huge, with the leaps and bounds they’ve made in their design.”
  3. Update your style by mixing wood finishes. “It used to be that you picked one wood and used it throughout; now, mixing is the status quo to have a high-end look,” notes Jacobs. “This is a new trend that will be here for a while.”
  4. Select large, appealing furniture. “The trend is to go a little bit oversized and comfortable, especially in clubs, because you want them to be welcoming and for people to spend time there,” says Biddle.
  5. Use a statement piece to make an impact. MP Studios turned to what Jacobs refers to as “an oldie but a goodie,” with resin panels to add a visual point of interest by suspending nine free-form panels from the high ceiling. “It will make not only a good visual from the first floor, but when you’re on the second floor, you can see the different heights and the light coming through them,” explains Jacobs.
  6. Keep costs manageable by repurposing where possible. In the Bella Vida clubhouse, MP Studios repainted some existing trim and doors, and salvaged the facility’s travertine floor as a key inspiration for the design scheme.
  7. When funds are tight, know where small costs can have a big impact. “100 percent: paint,” advises Jacobs. She also recommends ripping out old carpet and window treatments, and redoing trim and other details. “Keep it tonal, but mix in flat and semi-gloss paint with the trim and the wall. Vary your finishes.”