Apartment Design Trends
Like many enthusiastic apartment buyers, you will almost certainly have sat down to read articles in a magazine or online about design, pondering trends and looking for inspiration. You might have been left inspired or confused, because when it comes to how best to approach the interior styling of a new apartment there’s lots of exiting news. While this is a very personal area, it does help to explore and even dream a little, or a lot. Good design and great ideas are always much more about hard work than luck. Exploring this topic on the back of a few conversations with some industry players, retailers, designers and architects, there’s some interesting trends. These helped highlight some of the most popular and exciting design trends for today’s apartment buyers to think about when it comes time to furnish their new homes.
For more and more Australian’s apartments are their preferred home, but we have until recently been lagging behind other cities like New York, London or Paris. The shift towards more apartment living has seen new interiors trends evolve creating inspirational opportunities and appealing homes. Some of the trends have been influenced by a few key groups including the downsize generation and younger buyers who have always been attracted to apartment living.
The overall design and development of new projects has also diversified catering to a very wide range of demographics, from compact 1-bedroom apartments to much larger 3-bedroom apartments.
The Benefits of Design
Good design has a big impact on us. It makes us feel connected to a place, to an apartment. The greater maturity of the apartment market is driving several current trends, although we need to remember this is a fast-moving environment. Apartments are produced in big numbers, this scale can create a sameness, a sort of ‘ground-hog day’, as apartments are replicated in different parts of a building or even right next door.
Developers, architects and designers are very aware of this. There’s a new design approach emerging that takes a more unified approach to the exterior and interior of a building. The aim is to address scale and interiors detail so that individual apartments are made more interesting in a way that gives individuals room for self-expression. This has not always been the way design was delivered. In the past interiors could feel disconnected from the external building design, the trend now is for a more unified approach, which creates more synergy across a project.
Projects also must be delivered to budget. Clever thinking during planning can help unlock added appeal without developers facing extra costs. Good design is not just about spending more money, it’s about attention to detail and quality.
Some Present-Day Design Trends
Understanding that every project has a budget limit, some of the design elements that help create more interesting interiors, may not be immediately obvious. But they are very clever ideas and they add to the appeal of apartments.
Many of the aspects are becoming more important as development costs can dictate more compact apartments, where smart design has a big impact.
A leading architect expressed this by saying that interiors need to be appealing, but still practical, solutions that people live with and use every day, not designs that are just ‘nice to look at’ but are impractical. Where designs have a solid personality.
This can be done in many ways, including lighting, colour, materials, layering of finishes and architectural elements. Just how these individual elements are employed varies but combined the elements do work together with great results.
Working to Budgets
Developers work within budgets and housing affordability remains a hurdle for many buyers. This creates opportunity for design innovation and there’s a flow-on for buyers. According to some retailers one impact is a trend seeing people look to buy one off items that will make a statement in their new apartment.
This could be a beautiful side-table, chair or coffee table by a well-known name manufacturer. The type of purchase that your Mum would always suggest was costing you too much money, but the item is something you have to have at almost ‘any cost’. Furniture retailers call this a ‘Trophy Purchase’. Recently after buying a new apartment, friends went ahead and built a study area using materials from two major stores known for their value. The result was great, a useful study, but then and to my surprise, they went and paid a ‘small fortune’ for a one-off office chair, form a well-known Italian designer. The chair cost much more than the build costs of the study itself. This is a perfect example of how some people living in an apartment (or indeed a house), look to personalise their space.
Developers do much the same and one way this happens is with the use of a selection of different materials and finishes; timbers, stone, veneers and even mirrors. The concept is deceptively simple, with colours uniform across timber, painted surfaces and areas like kitchen bench tops, and mirrors being used with imagination to enhance the visual appeal of an area. Accent colours and materials in areas like bathrooms and kitchens can also have a big impact.
Another fashion is that there’s no strong over-riding trend. Design and interiors are being driven by personal taste and circumstances, the seasons and location do have an impact what people buy.
While there might not be a big-picture trend, there is a strong preference when it comes to the use of natural and locally sourced materials. Australian’s enjoy a way of life that’s defined by the natural environment, our cities and homes are very much shaped by the influence of the natural elements, and location. Accordingly, people are being attracted to naturally or organically shaped furniture along with a preference for materials that are organic and sourced locally. This is an often-quoted trend which also includes a preference for neutral colours, that in part reflects wider environmental trends.
But there are also more subtle and flexible changes in other areas like fabric selection, with leather a perennial favourite and currently velvet is also very popular.
Another common theme is the selection of a stylish but comfortable sofa for a new apartment, as a sofa is a foundation item of furniture buyers tend to invest heavily in a sofa that might, for example, have a 40-year reputation as a design icon.
Apart from some of the very specific design trends, the idea of shared-space or multi-use space is very relevant as apartments are smaller. Today the idea of having a dedicated dining room locked away and seldom used is no longer on the agenda for many apartment buyers. While a living/dining and kitchen space where you can relax, study, enjoy a meal or entertain is very much reflected in how interiors have changed.