Sit Back, Relax and Watch Me Huff and Puff

When I’m working out in my community gym, I don’t want residents in the clubhouse and pool watching me through floor-to-ceiling windows as I sweat like a pig in a bacon factory. There’s a reason I’m on a treadmill and not laying out in a bikini by the water. Nothin’ to see here, folks!

But I’m the exception.

Most Gen Y renters are looking for visual transparency and connectivity, and as I discovered while writing the article “Room With a View” for the June issue of units, that means open floor plans in the common areas. 

Many architects and interior designers say young renters want to be entertained and see who’s around—including those who are dying on an elliptical machine. Gen Y’ers would rather spend time socializing (and stalking) in an impressive and open common area than they would in their individual apartment homes.

To cater to this group of prospective residents, new communities are moving away from separate amenities—such as a business room, computer center and game room—and turning the clubhouse into one large party room. That’s great news for the community socialites—not so great news for those of us who will now feel the need to wear make-up when we run.

Individual units are also being designed to follow a similar great-room concept—units that, aside from the bedrooms, function as more of a studio without walls dividing up the rooms.

Now this is something I could actually get on board with. I almost broke a toe on Monday night running back and forth between the kitchen and the family room, my love for The Bachelorette and my desperate craving for chocolate milk pitted against one another by the large dividing wall I had to maneuver around. Knock that baby out and I could calmly watch Bentley rip Ashley’s heart out from the kitchen. 

Fellow residents share my floor plan dreams. Jack Kern, Managing Director of Kern Investment Research LLC, a market research firm for the multifamily housing industry, says Gen Y renters look for features beyond the pure square footage of the apartment and select a unit based on its utility and usability.

Kern says one characteristic that appeals to young renters is conveniently located cable outlets—and, if you’re me, a view of the TV from every corner of the apartment. This is especially important as many of today’s young renters work from home and must have an apartment designed to accommodate their Internet and workspace (and shameless entertainment) needs. So whether it’s an individual unit or a common space, owners and managers should remember one thing: most Gen Y’ers want the party, not the personal time.

When you see me mopping my brow on the StairMaster as you try to enjoy an ice cream by the pool, blame my generation, not me.

For more on interior design trends for young renters, check out my article in the June issue of units, which mailed June 8.