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10 Multifamily Design Predictions for 2021

Updated: Aug 23, 2022

Here are the top 10 design trends that are shaping multifamily apartment communities in 2021.

Never before had we spent as much time at home as we did in 2020. Our homes expanded to become our offices, our daycares, our schools. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendous impact on design trends across industries and continues to have a lasting influence on the way property owners and managers are planning for the future of design in multifamily apartment complexes.

Here are our top ten design predictions for multifamily development in 2021.

1. Cleanliness is King

Intensified by the ongoing pandemic, hygiene and sanitation will continue to be top priority for multifamily dwellings in 2021. Expect upgraded HVAC systems for the purpose of cleansing, as well as UV light incorporated into other, larger devices (Mansion Global). Bacterial-resistant furniture, touchfree surfaces, and sanitation stations will make their way into more multifamily properties, with such upgrades likely to be used as marketing points to entice new residents in 2021.

2. Designing For Better Air Quality

COVID-19 has brought the topic of air quality to the forefront. The conversation has moved from simply air filtering, to focusing on destroying unhealthy particles, “...through ultraviolet light, UV photo oxidation, ionization and other tactics” (Mansion Global). Expect more air filters in-units and in common spaces. Bluair, a maker of portable air purifiers purchased by Unilever saw triple digit growth in 2020 (Wall Street Journal). The focus on air quality is here to stay, and we expect new designs to reflect that.

3. Individual Workout Rooms over Building Gyms:

2021 is the year of the private fitness room. Gyms are being retrofitted to “workout pods,” where a pod might include a cardio machine, weights, and other workout equipment to provide users a full workout without moving from station to station (Newmark Knight Frank). Workout pods allow residents the full workout experience, while safely remaining socially-distanced. Companies like BOLD in Chicago are partnering with multifamily developers to build modular workout pods that allow residents the workout experience they can’t currently get from their buildings’ gyms. Other 2021 workout design trends include sliding glass doors in gyms and outdoor training spaces.

4. More Outdoor Amenities:

Outdoor space has always been a hot commodity. In 2021, outdoor space is more popular than ever, especially given the free airflow it provides compared to indoor, confined air spaces during COVID-19 . Apartments with balconies in New York City are now bringing in 5.4% more per square foot than pre-lockdown (NREI). In Chicago, landlords are getting $300 more per month for apartments with outdoor space, compared to 2019 prices (NREI). Beyond merely more apartments with outdoor access, expect to see more outdoor grills, eating areas, workout spaces, and furnished rooftops.

5. Increased Focus on Landscape Design

Beyond simply more outdoor space, 2021 brings increased interest in landscape design. The pandemic has reinforced the idea that “horticulture is therapy” (Architectural Digest). Residents see green/ outdoor space as necessary for overall mental and healthy wellbeing. Expect to see more living walls, communal garden space, and moonlighting/ downlighting in trees in multifamily dwellings.

6. Flexible WFH Accommodations:

According to a Colliers study, 82% of employees hope to work from home at least once a week after the pandemic (Bisnow). Developers will continue to incorporate co-working spaces into their multifamily buildings. Greystar is now including small private offices that residents can rent for a nominal fee in some of their new buildings (Mansion Global). Moveable walls to create private, smaller spaces will also be more popular.

Hygiene measures for co-working and learning spaces include:

+ Complimentary sanitizers

+ Hands-free check-in

+ Smart lighting

+ Automatic doors

+ Movable desks for distancing

+ Reservable private offices

+ Reservable phone booths

+ Monitors for Zoom meetings

7. Increased Package Storage:

The number of packages continues to rise year over year. "Currently around 20 percent of residents at a multifamily property receive at least one package per day," Multifamily Properties Quarterly reported in November 2020 (Axios). Package management systems, like Livly, offer an easy solution for property managers looking to save community managers time in their buildings. Expect buildings to allocate more square footage to package solutions in 2021.

8. In-Building Grocery Stores or Self-Serve Food Kiosks

We predict a continued rise in in-building convenience and grocery stores, as well as self-serve food kiosks in the lobbies of smaller apartments. According to a report by RCLCO Real Estate Advisors, apartment buildings with Whole Foods or Trader Joe's on their ground floor bring in an average of 5.8% more rent (Bisnow). Additionally, some buildings are incorporating grab-and-go markets designed for self-service. These self-service stores increase revenue per unit and provide a new, profitable amenity for residents (Kiosk Marketplace).

9. Technology, Technology, Technology

Technology will continue to be a central focus for multifamily housing design in 2021. We predict more buildings offering touchless technology, like the ability to call the elevator or open an apartment door using only an app. The New York Times cited sales at Latch, one of the leaders in touchless technology, up 50% Q3 of 2020, when compared to the same time the year before. Livly also offers touchless technology, like mobile keyless apartment entry with its ButterflyMX, Salto, and Assa Abloy integrations.

10. Zoom Conferencing Room

Taking technology prediction one step further, expect video conferencing specifically to make its way into multifamily design in 2021. Residents now care about “ [for] digital communications whether for social, business, or educational purposes” (Architectural Digest). Design elements like soundproofing, lighting, and acoustics matter more. Expect cameras that adjust for light, microphones that ignore surrounding noise, and lighting systems that can be controlled by voice (Mansion Global). We predict video conferencing at home is here to stay, and 2021 designs will reflect that change.

That’s a wrap on our top 10 design predictions for the multifamily industry in 2021! Have you noticed other design trends that you believe are likely to pick up steam this year? Let us know in the comments below.

To learn more about how Livly apartment technology can elevate your apartment community in 2021 and beyond, contact us today.

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