Multifamily Design, Color Trends for 2018

Multi-Housing News spoke with Jacqui McCowan of Sherwin-Williams to discuss how to design universally in order to appeal to renters of all generations.

Color plays a large part in design, especially when looking to keep a community fresh and updated for both incoming and current residents. Multi-Housing News spoke with Jacqui McCowan, interior designer, color marketing & design at Sherwin-Williams, to discuss the latest color trends for 2018, the release of its newest palettes—Global Adventure, Virtual Pop and Soft Minimalismand how to design universally in order to appeal to renters of all generations. 

How does color influence design in the multifamily industry?

Jacqui McCowan, Sherwin-Williams
Jacqui McCowan, Sherwin-Williams

McCowan: Color is very important—it’s one of the first things that people notice about any space. People look for an apartment that will feel like home. An apartment with a warm gray or neutral wall color tends to be more inviting than something stark and white. Great neutral colors will work with most furniture or decor while giving the unit some character.

Community spaces should feel fun and lively. Accent colors will draw residents in and get them excited to host friends and family. Inviting community spaces also allow residents to expand their living quarters.

What are some key factors to keep in mind when designing for independent living?

McCowan: There are a few things that make renting convenient for those looking for independent living. Moving from a single family home to an apartment can be an easy transition with a few simple perks:

  • Amenities: Everyday conveniences such as valet trash, package lockers and guest suites for overnight visitors
  • Communities spaces: Places to meet neighbors like fitness centers, outdoor spaces and pet washing stations
  • Personalization: ‘Feature wall’ programs or finish upgrade options for paint
  • Location: Easy access to transit, shops, parks or restaurants

Whether boomers who downsized or Millennials fresh out of graduate school, these renters are looking for a taste of luxury. Adding small details will give the units a little more character and a high-end flare.

How do factors like light, color and fixtures change the design of a room?

Global Adventure
Global Adventure

Lighting tends to be an afterthought in design, but it can really impact a space. While natural light is best, not all apartments have large windows. Kitchens and baths require good task lighting unlike a living room where ambient lighting is appropriate.

Color is another way to add interest to the units. When selecting paint or other finishes, it’s important to look at samples in the space where they will be going since lighting can affect the way color is perceived. Lighter colors tend to reflect more light and can make a space feel larger while darker colors make a space feel smaller. Offering feature or accent wall programs lets renters customize their space as an upgrade or retention strategy. It gives the space a personal touch and allows renters to have a say in the design.

Upgraded fixtures and appliances gives a fresh aesthetic. Classic metals and clean lines will feel updated and have longevity. Potential renters will notice these small upgrades and believe it is worth the expense.

How would you describe the Global Adventure, Virtual Pop and Soft Minimalism palettes? 

McCowan: The Global Adventure palette is a nice balance of warm neutrals and saturated accents. A bold red, Heartthrob SW 6866, and a deep teal, Oceanside SW 6496—Sherwin-Williams 2018 Color of the Year, are great accent wall options. Global adventure was inspired by culture and craft and consists of saturated hues paired with earthy neutrals. Global Adventure speaks to a nomadic lifestyle and the idea that home is where you make it. This palette was meant for all age ranges. While we love it with an industrial design mixed with raw, imperfect wood looks or materials, the palette is somewhat adaptable. The colors work well with oak cabinets and beige carpet that many units today still have.

Soft Minimalism
Soft Minimalism

Virtual Pop has a mix of bright poppy accents and cool gray tones. Organic Green SW 6732 and Grape Harvest SW 6285 balance the crisp, clean neutrals. Virtual Pop is high energy while Soft Minimalism is calming and serene. Global Adventure is somewhere in between. These palettes offer something for every type of multi-family unit. Virtual Pop is inspired by the high-energy pops of color from the digital world. Balanced by white and almost black, Virtual Pop is the backdrop for positivity and new thoughts. A bold palette, it is suitable for millennials or students and works well with high-gloss white cabinets with clean lines and dark gray flooring. Virtual Pop works well for a trendy or urban apartment community.

Soft minimalism is made up of colored gray tones and warm neutrals. Light pinks like Sashay Sand SW 6051 and Rojo Dust SW 9006 pair nicely with warm gray and beige tones. Influenced by stillness, Soft Minimalism is a dusty collection of tinted neutrals. As a society, we strive for peace of mind. The calming colors of Soft Minimalism help us to unplug. A more subdued and sophisticated palette, Soft Minimalism is suitable for an older demographic and pairs nicely with light, natural wood tones and dark cabinetry for contrast. It is ideal for apartments with an open floor plan and modern, high-end feel.

Describe universal design and how it benefits renters of all ages?

McCowan: Universal design is designing without barriers, where anyone who wants to use a space or product can use it. It’s designing for all ages, sizes, with or without disabilities. An apartment with a universal design will appeal to the masses. This allows an older resident to feel at ease about aging in place, without small changes impacting younger residents.

What are three main aspects of design to use for universal design?

McCowan: From the main principals of universal design, here are a few that play a large role in multi-family.

  • Simple and Intuitive Use: Smart controls that are easy to use and understand
  • Low Physical Effort: Lever handles for doors or faucets
  • Size and Space for Approach and Use: Large kitchen for easy mobility and various counter top heights for sitting or standing tasks

What are some generational differences that go into designing a multifamily space?

Virtual Pop
Virtual Pop

McCowan: Millennials are looking for excitement and want experiences more than tangible items. They prefer smaller units with community spaces where they can entertain friends and meet neighbors. Proximity to shops and restaurants is important and they expect the latest technology that allows them to control locks, thermostats and more from an app on their phone.

Boomers are renting by choice. They want the same conveniences and amenities as younger generations, but they do not want to lose the comfort or luxury that they once had in a single-family home. High-end finishes are a must and additional soundproofing will help to keep these residents happy.

Images courtesy of Sherwin-Williams