People today get by with less space thanks to multi-purpose functionality, options for multifunctional components and a decluttering trend across the nation.
Some people might choose a smaller apartment to reduce the rising cost of rent. Others want to live a simple lifestyle and save their money for experiences such as trips to exotic locations.
Property managers may not be diving into the micro-housing trend, but as large urban centers combat limited geographic space and a growing population of renters, working to optimize smaller apartments can be beneficial for both parties.
The average apartment size is 917 square feet, down seven percent since 2009. If you’re trying to lease one of the smaller apartments in your area, one way to make it seem bigger and more attractive to tenants is to incorporate items with multiple purposes and use the space efficiently.
Consider the Apartment Layout
Property managers working with newer units or remodels should always consider an open layout for small spaces. An open plan for the kitchen and living area creates the illusion of more room. If given the flexibility, working a loft into a high-ceilinged unit allows for even more function in a smaller apartment.
Remodels are expensive, but relatively low-cost design updates can make an impact as well. Painting with clean, light colors and taking advantage of natural light are both classic design tools for opening up smaller spaces. Sunlight makes even a tiny space seem more substantial and less dark.
Install Multi-Functional Furniture
In the United States, there are around 2,600 micro-units being either built or refurbished. About half will come furnished. Furnished units rent more quickly than unfurnished ones, which can offset the expense of including furniture in a property.
Property managers who plan to offer a furnished apartment for rent can look into buying functional furniture that can either serve more than one purpose or be easily stashed away. For example, murphy beds have made a comeback in modern apartment design, allowing tenants to transition from day to night in one small space. This type of option is particularly attractive in a studio apartment.
Push the pros of a furnished space by explaining that the cost of the furniture is built into the overall price. This strategy helps those who are just getting started and may not have the funds to fill a place with furnishings. The units are also move-in ready, decreasing the risk of lengthy vacancies in between tenants.
Try Multi-Function Buildings
Managers of multi-unit apartment buildings can think about the uses of common space and how they can create more than one function for areas. Can the laundry room also host a workout area? Perhaps the lobby can also serve as a gathering place for building-wide events to promote a sense of community?
Larger apartment buildings with communal spaces offer tenants options for working, socializing and taking care of chores outside of their smaller units. Landlords can not only optimize the apartments themselves, but work more functionality into these common spaces.
Covert Unused Space
The key to optimizing a small unit is to avoid wasting any space. If there’s an extra closet in the living area, for example, landlords can opt instead to turn the closet into a workspace for their professional tenants. Adding a desk and shelves doesn’t cost a lot of money, but adds a lot of functionality to the overall design of the unit.
Define Different Areas
Property managers leasing a studio apartment find that it’s sometimes difficult for tenants to see where everything will go. For furnished apartments, including pieces such as area rugs and storage shelves can help break the room into sections for tenants. For unfurnished units, it’s helpful to walk potential tenants through some successful designs or provide pictures of previous renters’ arrangements.
A simple curtain rod separating the sleeping area from the rest of the unit or carefully placed built-in storage are more permanent options for organizing the small space and providing extra functionality.
Maximize Available Storage Space
One complaint many potential renters have is a lack of storage space. Think vertical to add additional storage. Are closets fully taken advantage of, or could shelving be installed near the top? In the kitchen, add shelves from floor to ceiling for an instant pantry or area to store dishes and other necessities.
Additionally, any piece of furniture should either have multiple purposes or provide additional storage for renters. Bed frames with built-in storage underneath and tables with drawers help tenants feel confident that their clutter will be accounted for upon move-in.
Even minimalists need places to put their winter coats and wine glasses throughout the year, after all. A property manager can make an impact on the unit’s first impressions by maximizing storage wherever possible.
Buy Smaller Appliances
Building managers can opt to order smaller than standard size appliances to create the illusion of a bigger kitchen. Especially if catering to single tenants, small apartment units benefit from correctly-sized ovens and refrigerators. Ultimately, it’s wasteful to take up valuable cooking space with a full-width stovetop when most tenants will be preparing food for one or two.
Increase Multi-Purpose Functionality
As apartment units shrink over time, landlords can make an impression by working to optimize the tenant’s available space. Whether a true micro-unit or a standard studio, multi-purpose functionality pays off for both the tenant and the landlord. A few upgrades to storage, design and furnishings can keep vacancies to a minimum and provide flexible housing for those who seek it out.
About the author:
Holly Welles writes about real estate market trends from a millennial perspective. She is the editor behind The Estate Update, a residential real estate blog, and keeps up with the industry over on Twitter @HollyAWelles