What Do Luxury Buyers and Renters Want In Their Homes?

In the real estate market, luxury homes aren’t necessarily huge, lavish or exorbitantly expensive today. From our work with developers on the interior design of their projects’ lobbies and model apartments, we’ve seen the concept of luxury become far more personal—and even quirky. It can mean proximity to family and friends; features and amenities that make life easy; and more.

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What do buyers want in new luxury real estate? It’s complicated. (Image by March courtesy of behance.net)

But this sea change still begs the obvious question when we work with developers: What do buyers and renters want in luxury homes? This question is more critical than ever, because people decide whether or not they want to live in a place within a few minutes of walking into it, as Jim Letchinger of JDL Development explained in a Michigan Avenue story on the model homes we did in one of his Gold Coast developments.

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We were asked to do the models at JLD Development’s 2 W. Delaware Pl. (Image courtesy of VHT Studios)

So what’s the answer? There’s a lot of money at stake in luxury real estate, so designing model homes is challenging. And figuring out what potential residents want in their new homes is part science and part art. In this data-rich day and age, developers have statistics on everything about their targets. But that still doesn’t bring a project to life or guarantee potential buyers or renters will sign on the dotted line.

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Luxury interior design starts with a lobby that is well-designed and efficient, yet also luxurous at 2 W. Delaware Pl. (Image: Jessica Lagrange Interiors)

Which brings us back to that looming question—what potential buyers or renters want. And today it truly means something different for everyone who walks thorough a model apartment’s door. Instead of the usual bells and whistles we’ve come to see as routine in luxury real estate, it’s all about showing them possibilities—in minutes.

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At 2 W. Delaware Pl., a dazzling foyer makes a big statement, and shows potential residents the possibilities in small-scale spaces. (Image: Jessica Lagrange Interiors)

That was our mission at JDL Development’s Gold Coast project, where we designed the lobby and two model apartments. Because the building has two very different targets—Millennials with burgeoning families and Boomers looking to scale down—we designed one apartment to focus on each generation. We felt that would be the best way to show all potential renters—regardless of their age or particular style—how the apartments would live and feel.

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Each model apartment at 2 W. Delaware Pl. showcases possibilities, such as the two different living areas. (Image: Jessica Lagrange Interiors)

Still, it was tricky. For us, the looming questions are always related to style and how a client wants to live. For the latter, we knew we wanted to make each apartment seem as functional, comfortable and attractive as possible without going overboard, so potential residents could envision living there. But for style, it came down to a classic conundrum: which way to go. Clean and contemporary, comfy and classic or modern with an edge?

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Two different dining areas show how the units at 2 W. Delaware can accommodate different styles and different needs. (Image: Jessica Lagrange Interiors)

The apartments were both clean, bright spaces with a very modern vibe, so we had to be very strategic to differentiate them. So we choose to do two very different design schemes— one that was lighter, brighter and more classic in the three-bedroom unit for a young family, and one that was sexy and more smoldering in a two-bedroom for a couple of any age.

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The master suites in each of the model apartments at 2 W. Delaware Pl. have distinctly different vibes. (Image: Jessica Lagrange Interiors)

Stylish furniture, opulent area rugs and gilt-encrusted lighting fixtures and accessories from Restoration Hardware were used to anchor both units. We complemented them with attention-grabbing wall and window treatments using fabrics and wall coverings from The Merchandise Mart, such as kicky hand-painted wallpapers and graphic yet gossamer floor-to-ceiling drapes, which gave each apartment a bespoke demeanor.

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Millennials with burgeoning families related to the nursery while Boomers appreciated an elegant guest suite. (Image: Jessica Lagrange Interiors)

The results are playful and chic, but also so obviously comfortable and functional that they showcase the apartments’ versatile layouts and beautiful fixtures and finishes. Best of all, the units also did the trick; today the building boasts almost full occupancy.

30 Jul 2018

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