Millennials: Interior Renovations For The Finicky, Trend Setting, and Creative Generation | National Apartment Association

Millennials: Interior Renovations For The Finicky, Trend Setting, and Creative Generation

It’s no wonder today’s college student renter expects their next off-campus apartment home to look like it was just featured on HGTV. Millennials are infatuated with decorating and creating a sense of space they can call their own, even if it is just a temporary home away from home. They browse countless Pinterest boards and spend time watching home improvement shows to find creativity and inspiration.  Ultimately they crave to create functional, designer rooms. Much like their infatuation with technology, they are up to speed on all the latest trends in creative living spaces  to enhance their quality of life.  

As owners, developers and managers in student housing, we spend a great deal of time researching the latest trends for community improvements with features and amenities. While the overall community enhancements provides a “wow” factor for marketing collateral and improves the asset value, there are other areas of your community that should be taken into consideration for renovations and improvements. In fact, the greatest opportunity in attracting today’s student renter and retaining them through community enhancements lies where they actually live… in the apartment themselves! 

You may be asking, what are some renovation ideas that will create value, retention and attraction to your off-campus community? Here are my top 4 recommendations for impactful interior enhancements to accommodate today’s student renter’s expectations. 

  • Idea Book- Create an Idea Book on Pinterest where your residents and prospects can view, share, like and create their own functional space. Showcase examples with a variety of options to decorate their space using real interiors of your community. This inspiration will help them to get excited about where they will be living or a new fresh decorating approach to their current space. Examples should including bedding, accessories, lighting, paint color schemes and rugs. Also don’t forget to tag where they can purchase these items on a budget. I would even suggest including photos showcasing residents creativity to share their own ideas with peers and personal brand.  
  • Technology Savvy- If your community was not built in the past 5-10 years, you probably lack a few technology elements key to the every day life of a millennial. Over 70% of students are looking for essential, purposeful apartment homes equipped with the latest technology. Here are some technology tools to enhance their living space. Upgrading to build in multiple charging stations in multiple locations including USB ports. They utilize multiple devices simultaneously from mobile, tablet, PC, and music which all need to be charged at the same time. Include Apple TV, Roku or subscriptions to digital streaming movies and TV like Netflix or Hulu. Millennials are on the go and want to stream movies and TV whether they are home or on the shuttle bus to class!
  • Think Custom Home Builder- Could your cabinetry; flooring and lighting use an extreme makeover? Offer an update of their choice or all of these updates in select units. Embrace your residents and future residents to transform their space. Today’s student renter wants to be part of the transformation and customize their space. Consider having a few options for each in cabinetry, flooring and lighting students can browse through on a tablet or mobile device. Not only is this a user-friendly and technology savvy approach to updating the units, it showcases the reality in their new home space with look and feel.  
  • Furniture Forward – Furniture design and quality is a strong feature of your community. While students crave to have their space trendy, stylish and functional, the same expectation applies to furniture. Of course, something to consider beyond durability and style is functionality. Can the furniture be moved around to create a unique space? Think about desks and entertainment centers. Are they functional for the tech savvy student? It’s important to remember they are searching for the whole look with the trendy and useful styles! 


When considering renewal or leasing incentives such as rent discounts, gift cards or other concessions, try customizing their space as part of the “leasing package." Allowing them to choose a few options to enhance and improve their living spaces will be much more memorable than a gift card or one time discount. This space is where they come home to each day. Make them feel it’s about them and the freedom to make this space their own!  

If the word luxurious is currently used to describe your apartments to students, you may want to reconsider. Millennials speak another language; instead they use words like useful or functional to describe their space. Actually, functional is the new cool for millennials. They truly are searching for more customization in where they live rather than a “cookie-cutter” approach. It’s a desire and expectation for them to give their individual rooms a purpose with the ability to customize their style of living. Just as abundant closet space, private baths and large open spaces are popular, so are style of furniture, trendy accessories, technology and even design. What steps are you taking to move forward with the latest trends in renovations for the finicky, trend setting and creative generation?