Category Archives: Blog

SMALLER APARTMENTS & LARGER COMMUNITY LIVING AREAS

Major cities across the United States have become more populated, and as a result, rental rates have skyrocketed, leaving many people unable to afford life in the city. In fact, it is estimated that about two-fifths of Americans are affected by the rental housing burden, which is defined as spending at least 35% of your monthly income on rent. In response to the outcry over rising rental prices, developers began to put their heads together to come up with a way to make housing in urban areas more affordable. The result? Micro-housing, also known as stack housing or apodments, are units that are around 350 square feet or smaller. This trend has taken over major metropolitan areas all over the country, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down.

The Appeal of Micro-Housing

The thought of living in an apartment smaller than 350 feet may not sound appealing to everyone, but many find it perfect for their lifestyle. Renters who are eager to live in the center of the city are willing to sacrifice space in exchange for location. Micro-housing units are typically located in the heart of major cities, including Seattle, San Francisco, and Houston, among many others. The location makes it easier for renters to commute to work and visit popular attractions within the city, which is more important to some people than the size of their apartment. Most renters who are attracted to this type of home plan on spending a lot of time outside of their apartments, so they don’t value the size of the apartment as much as other people.

But, not everything in a micro-housing building is small. Many of these buildings make up for the small apartments by increasing the size of common areas. For example, universities have started to build micro-units instead of traditional student housing. Each student is given a small unit with enough space to study, sleep, and cook small meals, but if they need to use the restroom, stretch their legs, or lounge on a comfortable couch, they have to make their way into one of the common areas. These student housing buildings, along with many other micro-unit buildings, encourage tenants to socialize with others in the common areas instead of spending all of their time in the micro-units. This is one more reason why tenants—especially young, single renters—are attracted to the idea of micro-unit housing.

Micro-housing has also been called a more energy efficient way of living in urban areas. How does a micro-unit save energy? In standard multi-family buildings, each tenant will have a unit with a refrigerator, dishwasher, and other appliances that use a great deal of energy. However, micro-housing buildings typically have several community kitchen areas, but don’t have much space in each individual unit for kitchen appliances. This means there aren’t as many appliances in the building and less energy is used overall.

Some renters choose to live in micro-units because they want to live a simpler life. One renter who was interviewed by USA Today said he prefers living in these smaller apartments because it prevents him from holding onto material possessions and becoming a hoarder.

As rent prices increase, not only does it make rental properties more unattainable for many people, but it also makes it harder for these people to work towards owning a home one day. Why? The more they spend on rent every month, the less they have to put aside in savings for a down payment. This is why some tenants choose to sacrifice space to live in micro-units so they can pay lower rent and save up for a down payment on a home. For this group of people, living in a tiny space is a small price to pay to achieve their dream of owning a home.

Design of Micro-Units

Choosing the right location is crucial if you are in the early stages of developing a micro-unit building. Micro-housing must be located in an area where rents are unaffordable, otherwise developers will have to compete with other affordable units that may be larger in size.

When planning a micro-unit building, it’s important to pay extra attention to the community areas. Because the individual units are so small, potential tenants will be determining which building to live in based mainly on the community areas. The community space should include an area for preparing food, dining, watching TV, studying in groups or alone, and socializing.

Micro-unit developers should also cater to those who work remotely. Remote workers will
probably not be able to stay confined to their micro-units during working hours, so they will need a place to work within the common areas.

Many developers believe micro-units are perfect for recent college graduates who need to live in the city for work, but aren’t financially ready to rent a larger apartment. Developers may want to consider targeting areas with large universities so they can appeal to recent college graduates who may be interested in a micro-unit.

The Future of Micro-Units

Even though micro-units were initially designed to deal with the overcrowding and affordability issues in large cities, the trend is slowly making its way into smaller areas. Des Moines, Iowa and Kalamazoo, Michigan are just two of the more rural areas that will have micro-housing units available to potential tenants. This could mean that micro-housing isn’t popular because it solves the problem of the rising cost of rent, but rather that it is what today’s tenants want from a multi-family building.

Micro-housing may be seen as more affordable to renters, but it’s still profitable to developers. A micro-unit in Seattle can rent for between $500 and $1,000 per month, and because developers can fit more units into each building, they can easily profitable off of this tiny trend.

Interior Architecture Firm The Childs Dreyfus Group (CDG) Introduces Vice President Of Interior Architect/Design And Vice President Of Operations/Business Development

CHICAGO, March 13, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — The Childs Dreyfus Group, an interior architecture/design firm located in Chicago, Illinois, had a great 2016 and is positioned perfectly to see additional growth and success in 2017. The growth created an opportunity to enhance the leadership, talent and culture, specifically, with a new Vice President of Interior Architect/Design and Vice President of Operations/Business Development.

Christina Bidegain joined the leadership team as Vice President of Operations in mid-2016, and brings a mix of leadership, inspiration, operational experience, and design background to the position. She will work together with the rest of the leadership team to drive the company’s growth and enhance customer service, business development and efficiency.

The firm’s new Interior Architect, Amir Al Abosy, joined The Childs Dreyfus Group in late 2016, but he has been in the industry since 1990. Over the past several decades, he has occupied high-level positions in architectural firms all around the world, including New Zealand, Jordan, Iraq, and the United States. He is well known within the industry and belongs to various professional organizations, including the American Institute of Architects. Amir is also a LEED accredited professional and has been certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. He brings a diverse and impressive skillset to The Childs Dreyfus Group that will help the firm surpass all of their clients’ expectations.”

“In total, we have hired six highly qualified, LEED and REVIT certified new team members who we feel have greatly improved our already impressive staff as a whole,” says The Childs Dreyfus Group’s CEO, Rene Pabon. “We have experienced rapid growth over the last 12 months, and are excited to bring these team members aboard to help us continue to grow our business and provide exceptional service to our clients.”

Spotlight on Community: The Residences at Two Liberty

Located in one of the tallest residential buildings on the east coast, these high-end, luxury high-end, luxury condominiums occupy the top 30 floors of a re-purposed 67 story office building. The units embody a European style and details like European kitchens cabinets, marble baths, built-ins, hardwood floors, custom mill-work, and floor to ceiling windows. The dramatic, full floor-ceiling windows offer spectacular views of downtown Philadelphia and the removal of the interior walls create areas of detail and functionality created with through the intricate mill-work.

Continue reading at www.blog.bestinamericanliving.com

Multifamily Design Trend Predictions for 2017

Childs Dreyfus was recently a contributor to an article on Dwell, a website dedicated to housing, real estate, and building trends.

Multifamily interior designers look forward to the beginning of every new year because they get the opportunity to predict design trends and find a way to incorporate them into their work. What should you expect if you plan on moving into a multifamily building this year? Here are the trends designers are expecting to see throughout the year.

To view the full article, visit Dwell.com 

Student Housing Trends: The Past, Present, and Future

Prospective students look at much more than just what programs a school has to offer before enrolling. These days, students want to know what kind of life they will be living if they choose to attend the university, which means they are looking closely at on campus and off campus student housing. How has this shift in priorities affected current student housing trends? What can students expect to see in the future? Take a look at the past, present, and future of student housing:

The Past

When you think of student housing, visions of concrete walls and flat, uncomfortable beds may come to mind. Students used to have fairly low expectations for student housing, but that’s all changed now. In the past, students expected modest rooms either on or off campus that were available at a low price. Students didn’t have much space, so besides sleeping, they did most of their activities outside of their living area. Dining took place in the campus dining halls, and studying was done in the libraries.

In both on campus and off campus housing, amenities were limited. Students typically had access to basic common rooms with seating areas and televisions, and standard sized pools and fitness rooms.

In the past, off campus apartments were not designed with students in mind, which is why they didn’t have the same atmosphere and amenities that today’s housing options offer.

The Present

Today, student housing has become much more luxurious, so prospective students no longer have to dread moving away from home to begin school. In fact, they can look forward to it! Many student housing facilities now offer resort-style amenities, including yoga studios, spacious fitness centers, saunas, basketball courts, tennis courts, and of course, pools with covered cabanas and lounging chairs. Developers have also started to include more places for residents to socialize together, such as on-site coffee shops or snack bars.

What do students want inside their apartments? The majority of college-aged students want large bathrooms, vast study spaces, plenty of storage space, and easy access to a washer and dryer. Today’s students are also more eco-conscious than previous generations, so they will be on the lookout for green features inside their apartments. Think smart home features such as Bluetooth integration and eco-friendly lighting that allow students to reduce their energy usage and still be technologically forward-thinking. Students will also appreciate units with green materials like bamboo, reclaimed wood, and even recycled glass countertops, which have recently made a comeback because of their sustainability and unique look. Even though college students want eco-friendly living spaces, they may not understand what LEED certification is, so promoting a building using this term may not be effective.

Technology is also an important part of today’s student housing. Students need fast and reliable internet access that they can use regardless of where they are in the building. Common areas should also have places to charge smartphones, tablets, and laptops, in case study sessions run longer than expected. Because both students and parents value security, student housing with video screens that show you who is at the front door have also become popular.

The Future

Students living off campus want to stay close to school so they don’t have to travel far to go to class. But, there is a limited amount of real estate available near campuses, and as a result, developers have started to build high-rise apartment buildings to accommodate more students in the limited space.

Another trend in off-campus student housing is micro-housing. Instead of having traditional rooms with two beds, dorms will feature one bed, along with a small space to study and prepare food. Students will be able to sleep, study, and eat within their rooms in a micro-housing design, but they will have to venture outside of their space to use the common restroom or lounge in larger living areas. Micro-housing frees up a lot of space so schools can focus on expanding the size of common areas while still giving each student the privacy they need. Common areas will be large enough to have separate places to watch TV, socialize with friends, or meet with a tutor for help with homework.

In fact, common areas will be incredibly important in future student housing designs. Classrooms are becoming more collaborative, which means students are being sent home with group projects and homework assignments that they must work on together. Both on and off campus student housing should have multiple study rooms to accommodate this growing trend.

Some industry experts believe that hybrid projects will be popular for on campus student housing as well. A hybrid project puts student housing and classrooms, student unions, or libraries in the same building. Essentially, students would be able to live and attend class in the same building, which makes student living more convenient.

Student housing developers will choose modern, edgier architectural designs to appeal to the younger market. Luxury will still be a main selling point, as well as sustainability. But, as more developers begin to incorporate luxurious amenities into their designs, new buildings will have to go above and beyond to differentiate themselves from the competition. More unique amenities, such as recording studios or built in retail shops and restaurants, will begin to appear in higher end, off campus student housing.

Of course, developers will have to find a balance between staying competitive by offering desirable amenities and remaining affordable to the average student. Students—or their parents—will pay more in exchange for luxury and security, but they will still be working within a budget.

When designing student housing, it’s important to incorporate elements of the present while also looking towards future trends. This way, you can create a building that will remain appealing to students for years to come.

What Does The Rental Market Look Like Today? Who Are We Designing For?

According to the National Multifamily Housing Council, there were over 110 million renters in the United States in 2015. At Childs Dreyfus Group, we design living spaces for these renters on a daily basis, and one of the first questions we ask ourselves is “Who are we designing for?” Take a look at who today’s renters are:

MILLENNIALS

A large percentage of today’s renters are in the Millennial generation. Many industry experts believe Millennials are forced to rent because student debt makes it impossible for them to save for a down payment, but this is not necessarily the case. Many Millennials are in rental properties by choice. This generation prefers having the convenience of having someone to handle these items without inconve- niency them. Moreover, they’re driven by job offers, mobility and being able to quickly change jobs and move when needed – making renting a perfect proposition for this group!

Living in an apartment or condo also allows them to live in a trendy neighborhood without breaking the bank on an overpriced home. If they rent, they can be close to all of the hottest restaurants, fitness studios, and entertainment venues that they may never be able to live near if they were to buy a home. A community that is within walking distance to these attractions is extremely appealing to Millennials.

Of course, cost does play a factor in why Millennials choose to rent over buying. Some Millennials rent so they can free up more money that can be used to enjoy their lives on fun experiences, while others are renting as they save for a down payment. Regardless of the reason, interior designers and architects must pay attention to this generation since so many of them are currently renters.

GEN Z

Believe it or not, Generation Z has now officially entered the renter’s market. This generation is shaking things up with their unique set of needs and desires. Most of Gen Z will not be interested in traditional amenities such as a fitness center or swimming pool. Instead, this generation gravitates towards amenities that help them reach their entrepreneurial goals, such as rooms where they can socialize and network with other residents, or craft spaces where they can learn new skills or get a new hobby. Much like Mellennials, a typical Gen Zer has grown up with a smartphone glued to the palm of his hand, so he is used to speedy delivery and responsive customer service. Apartment communities that can quickly repair maintenance issues or respond to questions or complaints will also be very appealing to this young generation.

This generation has a deep appreciation for the sharing economy, so they think of privacy in a very different way than other generations. They often view common areas in a residential space as an extension of their private home. They won’t fuss over small living spaces in their individual units as long as there is plenty of space for them to work, live, and collaborate with others in the common areas.

BABY BOOMERS

A large chunk of today’s renters are Baby Boomers. In 2005, there were 10 million renters in their 50s and 60s, however that number grew to 15 million by 2015. According to the Housing Studies of Harvard University, this generation accounts for more than half of the country’s renter growth over the last decade and the growth is expected to increase over the next few years.

Members of this generation tend to own a home throughout the majority of their adult lives, and then decide to go back to renting once their children have grown up and moved out. Baby Boomers who make this decision are interested in downsizing and simplifying their lives so they no longer have to keep up with repairs, landscaping, and other maintenance that is required when you own a home. Baby Boomers will be looking for rental properties with updated appliances and high-end finishes that they won’t have to worry about replacing or repairing.

But just because they want to simplify does not mean they aren’t looking for luxury. Baby Boomers are choosing to rent so they don’t have to live in a quiet home in a suburban neighborhood. When they move into a rental property, they want to live somewhere that offers community events so they can meet and connect with other people. They’re also interested in luxurious amenities that allow them to live a life they never experienced while in a single family home raising children. What kind of amenities? Think high-rise views, a fully equipped fitness center, and other amenities that simply aren’t feasible in a single-family home.

FAMILIES

In the last decade, there has been a huge increase in the number of single-family home rental properties. The overwhelming majority of people who rent out these single family homes are married couples with children. However, just because small families are renting out single family homes does not mean they account for a significant percentage of apartment or townhome rentals. In fact, married couples with children only made up about 9% of apartment renters in 2015.

Based on this small percentage, communities should not choose amenities that cater to this population, such as playgrounds for children. Instead, interior designers and architects should focus on Millennials and Baby Boomers, who have very different wants and needs than married couples with children.

PET OWNERS

In 2014, it was reported that over 70% of renters owned at least one cat or dog. This is a very important statistic for interior designers and architects to pay attention to, as it could impact how they design communities. For example, these renters will most likely be interested in communities that offer dog parks or dog grooming stations on-site. This makes life much easier for them since they won’t have to transport their pets anywhere in order to let them play or get them groomed. If it’s impossible to add a dog park, make sure you have plenty of walking trails—and don’t forget to add stations with plastic disposable bags so owners can pick up after their pets and keep the community clean.

But, the outside of the community is not the only place that should be pet-friendly. Choose building materials that are durable and won’t be easily damaged by pets. For example, pets can easily cause stains and rips in carpet, but other flooring material is much more durable. Keep this in mind as you design the interior of units in a pet-friendly community.

When designing rental properties, think back to this profile of the average renter in the U.S. so you can choose amenities and interior design features that will appeal to today’s renters. Of course, the average renter will vary depending on the location of the community, so it’s important to consider these tips along with the demographics of the surrounding neighborhoods before making any decisions.

How The New, Younger Senior Is Affecting Amenity Options And Interior Design Decisions

Although many people are under the impression people begin to slow down after they retire, there is a new trend of younger, active seniors that are disproving all of these stereotypes. As the needs and wants of this group change, so should the housing that is designed for them. Take a look at how the physically active and vibrant group of seniors is affecting amenity options and design decisions – they have high-expectations and are looking to continue a lifestyle of Lux-living…just in a smaller, easier to manage home.

NATURE

Younger seniors are drawn to living facilities with LUX living….that allow them to enjoy the great outdoors, so nature must be incorporated into both the design of individual units and the community amenities. Communities should have outdoor walking trails that wind through the scenic surroundings so residents can stroll through nature when they need some fresh air. There should also be outdoor gathering spaces with plenty of comfortable seating centered around a grill, outdoor kitchen, or fire pit. This allows them to relax and experience nature even when they’re not in the mood to be physically active.

But, you shouldn’t have to walk outside in order to experience the outdoors. Natural materials such as wood should be used to warm up interior spaces and make seniors feel more connected to the outdoors. Designers should consider using it both on the floor and as ceiling beams. Windows in each unit should be large and directed at a flower garden or cluster of majestic trees.

GREEN FEATURES

A lot has been said about how the Millennial home buyers and renters are on the hunt for greener living spaces, but the same can be said about baby-boomers and active seniors. Perhaps inspired by their love of nature, seniors are becoming more curious and willing to take an interest in sustainable living. In fact, many senior living facilities are beginning to use sustainable features as a main selling point when attracting prospective tenants.

What green features are seniors looking for? Think Energy Star appliances, sustainable wood and other building materials, and energy efficient lighting. Design the layout of each unit to allow natural light into the space so seniors don’t have to rely on electric lighting. Make sure you promote these features when trying to attract new residents, and explain how they benefit the environment so seniors don’t have to make the connection on their own. Incorporating these features into your senior living facility will help tenants feel like they are living in forward-thinking, eco-friendly community.

FOCUS ON WELLNESS

Becoming more interested in health and wellness, and they now want a community that allows them to enjoy this active lifestyle. Instead of offering residents a standard gym, offer them group fitness classes where they can meet other people in the community and try new workouts. Communities should also consider inviting a personal trainer or wellness coach into the facility for a certain number of days every month. This gives residents the chance to meet one-on-one with someone who can help them achieve their health and wellness goals without the facility having to pay for a full-time staff member.

TECHNOLOGY

This age group is very comfortable with technology, so living facilities should make an effort to become more tech-friendly. Wi-Fi should be available throughout the facility so seniors can connect to the network wherever they may be on the property. Lights, blinds, and the thermostat inside their units should be remote-controlled so they can conveniently adjust the lighting or temperature with a little help from technology. Interior designers should also think about including charging stations for smartphones and tablets in the gathering areas so seniors can charge their devices without having to return to their home. Some facilities have even started to use keyless entry so seniors just have to swipe a card or key fob in order to get inside their unit.

Sophisticated technology is a must. Technology makes life easier and more enjoyable while our more active seniors enjoy things like travel, fine-dining and community engagement.

FEELS LIKE HOME

They don’t want to give up the comfort of feeling like they’re at their past home….most likely, a luxury, high-end style with plenty of space and bells-and-whistles. So it’s imperative that their down-size or right-size venture hits all their desires. These extra amenities make seniors feel as if they didn’t sacrifice any of the luxuries they enjoyed at home by moving into a new, sometimes, smaller space.

To satisfy this need, interior designers have to focus on fitting all of these features into a unit without it feeling cramped. But, they also don’t want to feel like they’re living in a space that is too big for them and their belongings. It’s difficult, but interior designers have to be able to find a balance that appeals to seniors. If you are able to offer seniors all of these amenities within their own living space, they will be even more attracted to your community.

The needs of seniors are ever changing, and interior designers must remain flexible in order to create beautiful living spaces that appeal to this generation. The first step in doing so is forgetting about all of the stereotypes that negatively portray seniors. People in this age group are no longer sitting back and watching life go by, but rather jumping right into the action and making the most out of every moment.