October 26, 2016

If you have one or more apartments to renovate, think carefully as you make your plans. You want renovations that make apartments look attractive to potential renters or buyers. That means making them look new and polished.

But it also means thinking through how the apartments will be used. Renovations need to take into account contemporary trends in spatial arrangements, the relationship of rooms and how they are used.

They also need to take into account concerns about sustainability. Innovations made to conserve energy or natural resources will be appreciated more and more as time goes on and the need for energy conservation becomes increasingly apparent.

Here are the best design factors to consider when you’re renovating an apartment.

The Look

Tenants and prospective owners will be attracted to where they can visualize themselves living in an attractive and elegant space. The choices you make in overall décor are choices that make it possible to increase the renting cost.

So think neutral when thinking decor. If a past tenant painted the walls turquoise, even if you agree that they’re beautiful, paint the walls a fresh neutral color, like ivory or cream. Curtains or blinds should also be neutral, as well as any rugs, unless they are area rugs bringing a strong accent color to an otherwise neutral environment.

The other reason to make sure the walls, floors and other general areas are neutral is that pale colors enhance natural light. Natural light is a huge selling point, and it should be maximized as much as possible.

Your finishing touches matter, too. For a luxurious, elegant look, simple touches like crystal pulls harmonize with neutral colors and pick up on natural light but telegraph that your apartment is a touch above.

The Layout

In general, people looking at apartments today prefer an open plan. Rooms should flow together rather than being firmly divided. Living rooms are separated from kitchens by partial walls. Closets are often separate mini-rooms, without doors, in a bedroom.

If you can renovate an apartment to give it an open floor plan, it will therefore be much more attractive to potential renters or buyers, and thus move much more quickly.

Obviously, this will depend on the current structure, but there are many ways to be creative with an open plan. Could you take out a door that currently separates a den from a living room and widen the door area to make the spaces contiguous? If you have two small bedrooms together, could you remove one wall to make a luxurious master bedroom? Let your creativity and the existing structure guide you to an optimal remodel.

The Rooms

People looking for a place to live are attracted by kitchens and bathrooms that are up to date and freshly renovated. You’ll find a place with old-fashioned kitchens and dingy bathrooms relatively hard to rent or sell.

Are you prioritizing renovations due to time or cost? In that case, kitchen and bathroom renovations are the top remodels to do.

In the kitchen, think about the convenience and comfort of people using the kitchen. There should be clearly demarcated places for food preparation, cooking and storage. People should find it easy to move from food preparation to cooking. Cabinets for food storage should not be so high that people can’t reach them or down so low they have to bend and stoop every time they want something. If there are cabinets close to the floor, it’s a good idea to make them roll-out cabinets that can be accessed with a foot.

Both kitchens and bathrooms will benefit from new fixtures and fresh paint. Replace Formica countertops with granite in the kitchen. Bathrooms will benefit from shiny fashionable fixtures, new shower curtains and convenient storage for towels and linens. If the bathroom is too small for storage, a small linen closet is a great idea.

Sustainability

Yes, we know that sustainability is not specifically a design factor. However, when you’re renovating an apartment, design-related decisions such as new windows and window size, new appliances and new light fixtures — along with a host of other potential decisions — often have a sustainability-related component. Any or all of these decisions increase the home’s energy efficiency.

The end result? Sustainability is like a hidden partner in design.

To maximize sustainability in your apartments, be sure to always buy Energy Star appliances. Energy Star is a program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and guarantees that the appliances use the minimum energy required.

If you are purchasing new appliances — anything from dishwashers to refrigerators, air conditioners to hot water heaters — be sure to use Energy Star. If you are replacing old windows, be sure to get those with maximum energy efficiency.

The Great Outdoors

If you own the entire apartment or condo building, painting is a top refurbisher, just as it is on the apartment’s interior.

The other way to remodel the outside is more sustainability, sustainability and sustainability. Solar panels on the roof will reduce energy consumptions and have great potential to reduce your costs over the long term.

If you own a building and property, become creative about sharing it with tenants. Shared areas can extend the sustainability theme already happening in your renovated apartments! Common gardens, for example, are extremely popular. So are storage areas for bike racks or car sharing. These may be especially popular with younger people, who comprise the largest group of renters.

Renovating apartments should take into account factors affecting the look, the spatial arrangements and the rooms. Sustainability issues also come into play. Considering all these factors when undertaking a renovation will make your property highly attractive to tenants.

Author Bio: Megan Wild writes real estate tips for millennials, Your Wild Home. She enjoys traveling and comparing the differences between rentals around the U.S. and studying the developing rental market.

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