As a full service architecture firm in New York City, we have done quite a few apartment renovations. We notice some common themes and requests from our clients.
NYC Apartment Renovation Trends
In this article we are going to review a few apartment renovation trends we see from different clients. All pictures below are from our projects in NYC.
15 NYC Apartment Renovation Trends From an Architect’s Perspective
- Combining Apartments
- Adding Bedrooms
- Adding Bathrooms
- Showers Not Tubs
- Adding Laundry to the Apartment
- Working From Home
- Open Kitchens & Bigger Kitchens
- Storage and Built Ins
- Smart Homes
- Man Made Materials
- Exposed Brick
- Color And Contrast
- Gold Fixtures
Apartment Renovation Trends:
We are getting a lot of people asking us to combine apartments. It is so much easier to buy the neighbors apartment when they move out then it is to find a new apartment. Some times combining is really the way to go when you need to expand. We wont go deep into this issue but if you want to read more check out another post we wrote on NYC Apartment Combinations.
Adding Bedrooms And Subdividing Rooms.
With real estate prices rising every year it is no wonder people are adding rooms to their existing apartments. Converting studios to one bedrooms. One bedrooms to two bedrooms and so on. Not everyone has the room for this but we get plenty of clients asking for this service. We often have to break the bad news that not every apartment will be able to make this work. There are very specific regulations for Adding a bedroom to an apartment in NYC. You will need to have an architect verify it will work, but see people who want to do this all the time.
Adding Bathrooms to Your Apartment.
This is a tricky one. Adding a bathroom to an apartment renovation is not easy and many buildings will not allow it. Our clients are constantly asking us if it will work in their apartments. In some cases it will in some it wont the logistics are complicated but depending on you building, budget, and existing conditions you may be able to add a bathroom to your apartment renovation wish list.
Its all about Showers
Converting a bathtub to a stand up shower. So apparently nobody likes bathtubs anymore. May of our clients are asking us to take out their bathtubs and replace them with walk in showers. Also installing two shower heads in a single shower is really popular now. We have done 2 rain shower heads side by side or wall mounted shower heads on either side. This way a couple can shower together without one person getting left out in the cold. I think i will continue to see this as we do more apartment renovations people love this idea. It makes sense lots of people shower together. This is especially useful when we replace a 5 foot tub with a new 5 foot stall shower. Plenty of room for 2.
Removing the tubs is the most surprising trend on this list, for me. So many clients want to take out their tubs. If you have small children, or are planning to, you will probably need one tub. We recently finished an apartment renovation in Brooklyn Heights that had 3 tubs, we completely removed one, replaced one with a shower, and replaced the third with a new tub. So my client went from 3 tubs to 1 tub and 1 shower and she was very happy with it in the end.
Laundry In The Apartment
Everyone wants a laundry machine in their apartment. It really is so convenient. The reality is if you do not have a way to exhaust then you will need an electric dryer and many people don’t like these. In the end everyone will take an electric vent-less dryer than no dryer. These are very common in NYC.
Home Office / Working From Home
Working from home and building a home office is a growing trend that will only increase.
Big Open Kitchens
The debate is over the big open kitchen was won. We are removing walls and opening up the kitchens. I think this one has been going on for a long time but everyone with a small enclosed kitchen wants to open it up.
One other trend in the kitchen is for the counter tops to be of man made materials. Concrete or Quartz are so much more popular then granite or marble right now. Also using the matching countertop as the backsplash is very popular. We are wrapping the sides of cabinets creating a “waterfall” or side panel in almost all the kitchens now were you see the sides of the cabinets.
Storage and Built Ins
Nobody in NY is happy with their storage space. Pimping out the closets is a real big deal now. Whether California, closets, container store, or custom built ins, millwork in the closets are almost a necessity. Organization and optimal use of space is critical for closets and don’t forget the closet lighting that is really important too.
Smart Homes / Automated Homes
You all have a smart phone or a tablet so you might as well have a smart home to go with it. There are countless automated systems and apps to replace manual activities.
Nest now has a thermostat that learns your habits and programs itself. There is google home, voice activated controls for your home. We are installing automatic blinds now, no more silly cords to pull on your blinds. Philips has a product called Philips Hue that you can change the hue of your LED lights throughout your apartment. The Hue feature allows you to program preset lighting arrangements in your phone to change the lights whenever you like. I am sure every year that passes we will be seeing more automation and smart home devices. These were just a few examples.
Man Made Materials
I am seeing a big push towards man made materials. Porcelain now is made to look like wood or stone and people are choosing that over actual marble or wood. People are doing entire floors in wood looking porcelain. Also concrete is big for countertops or bathroom walls, but there are concrete looking porcelains too. Quartz man made countertops have become more popular than granite and marble.
Keeping the overall architecture of a space minimal is quite important for a lot of homeowners. They may have certain details that add a bit of complexity but in general keeping it simple is the way to go for many people.
I think people are really getting into texture and color. As I write this post I am working an a very stark apartment that is all white and we are adding materials and colors wood and concrete. Nobody really likes the sterile look anymore you can paint your hallway purple if you like. Color is really in especially in an accent wall or feature wall. People are liking to see contrasting colors as well.
I am just about convinced that exposed brick is one home design trend that will never go away. When clients ask me if they can expose the brick under their plaster walls I always say we have to open up the wall and see what the brick looks like. But most people really don’t care how the brick looks sometimes the uglier the better. I still recommend probing the wall to see a small area before committing to removing all the plaster from the walls.
There is a loft I am renovating in SoHo for a lovely couple and they are both originally from California. I recommended exposing the brick considering it is a loft after all. They said only people from New York like exposed brick. I am from NY and I like exposed brick. Please leave a comment below if you like exposed brick let us know if you are originally from NY or not from NY. I am curious to see if this is true.
Color and Contrast
One apartment renovation trend that I really appreciate is the use of color. Bright colors and unique colors can really add a lot of life and vibrancy. These can be through an accent wall or even for an entire space.
I will be honest I did not see this one coming. Gold fixtures are quite popular for the kitchen faucet. People are looking for alternative materials to have a real unique faucet. Especially goose neck faucets the bigger the better and they have to be pull out or down faucets of course. Oil rubbed bronze is also another option that people like. But the gold is in trend at least with my clients.
Apartment Renovation Trends
As an architect, I study design and construction, but these are complicated and quite involved issues. Every project is different and must be assessed on its own unique characteristics. This post does not assume to cover every possible issue or condition, but provide a general overview of the topic.
Thank You for reading our blog post on Apartment Renovation Trends
I hope this was helpful. You don’t have to follow any trends when you renovate your apartment. You do you and you’ll be just fine. I wish you the best of luck with your apartment renovation. If you want to discuss your project with an architect please feel free to contact us directly.
This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 15 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.