In order to appeal to a wide range of people in today’s rental pool, multifamily owners, managers, and developers need to analyze both societal and market trends, specifically ones with staying power that could influence design in the years to come.
To see what’s trending for 2023, MFE consulted several industry design experts, including Lauren Werkiser, design director at Morgan Properties; Mark Odom and Erin Nies of Mark Odom Studio; Esther Sperber, founder of Studio ST Architects; Paulee Halloran, vice president of asset management at Kairoi Residential; and Loren Nelson, vice president and national leader for multi-family at NELSON Worldwide.
See below for nine trends and features they think will be popular this year—and into the future.
1. More Telework: Although some people have gone back to work in offices, many are still operating on hybrid schedules. As a result, experts say work-from-home options will still be important in 2023. “Hybrid work may be here to stay, and we’re certainly hearing more and more that job seekers want the flexibility to work remotely,” says Werkiser. “So, our approach to interior amenity design takes into consideration the need for residents to take a call in a private space or participate in a virtual meeting outside of their apartment from time to time.”
2. Creative Work Spaces: Building off the telework trend, some of the work spaces that developers are designing appeal to residents that may not be the typical laptop worker, including entrepreneurs, digital content creators, artists, and more. “With the changing landscape of how people work from home, we have started looking at not only co-working spaces but also work facilitator spaces,” says Nies. “These are designated digital creator spaces—dedicated spaces that can be used for podcasting and photography.”
3. Pickleball Popularity: According to several of the interviewed experts, the newest up-and-coming sport is pickleball. Developers are installing courts in droves, and renters have responded positively. “The sport historically appealed to an older demographic, but now it’s everywhere in the mainstream media, and the younger audience has caught on,” says Werkiser. “So now, a not-so-new sport is ‘new’ again as a big outdoor amenity trend going into 2023.”
4. Adaptive Reuse: From old churches to abandoned warehouses to office buildings, developers lately have been using existing infrastructure to create multifamily units. “Adaptive reuse will be an ongoing build and design trend in 2023,” says Sperber. “It is more sustainable to reuse existing structures than building from the ground up. Reusing old warehouses, factories, etc., will continue to appeal to residential developers in 2023 and beyond.”
5. Food Deliveries: Last year, MFE highlighted the increase in multifunctioning mailrooms. As an extension of that, developers are now incorporating food delivery areas, which encompass restaurant takeout and grocery and meal-prep delivery services. “Multifamily clients are asking for food delivery service areas, which rose in popularity during COVID and is now becoming even more commonplace,” says Sperber. “We will see specific drop-off areas for food deliveries, similar to mailrooms.”
6. Micro-Units: With affordability top of mind, some architects say that micro-units will be a significant trend going forward. “The micro-home will be an ongoing trend in multifamily build and design,” says Odom. “Units are becoming smaller with intent to focus on social engagement and connection to the neighborhood lifestyle. Small work nooks versus offices will suffice for the work-from-home user.”
7. Wellness Centers: For the past few years, the industry has put a lot of focus on the health part of health and wellness. Now, developers are designing rooms specifically for wellness, including meditation areas, massage rooms, and saunas. “We strive to provide our residents with a feeling of community and design spaces that reinforce the idea that where they live is much more than just a place to hang their hat,” says Halloran. “Fitness centers are the No. 1 amenity in multifamily. We’re taking things to the next level with spaces for self-care and physical recovery after a hard workout.”
8. EV Charging: More and more of today’s residents have electric vehicles (EVs). With a rise in use, those residents need chargers. “EV charging stations have moved from being an amenity to a necessity for developers wishing to attract and retain residents and foster an environmentally sustainable community,” says Nelson. “As more charging companies enter the market, we are seeing owners incorporate innovative technologies to reduce downtime and make charging as frictionless as possible, ultimately providing amenities that don’t seem like an afterthought.”
9. Evolving Tech: In the past, experts have noted smart elevators, virtual doorman systems, and keyless locks as top multifamily technologies. Those features and more have continued to evolve to make day-to-day living more convenient for residents. “Keyless entry technology allows residents to control access to their building, their units, and amenity spaces using a card, key fob, or even their phone,” says Nelson. “New technology can allow residents to use temporary visitor passcodes or easily access authentication for those needing to enter the apartment, such as a cleaning service or someone delivering and putting away their groceries.”