5 Kitchen and Bath Trends for Daring Apartment Investors

The multi-family sector faces a huge challenge: single-family rentals. Now more than ever, apartment investors need to show off their full benefits. It’s not enough to have amazing equipment. You also need a great sense of style. The Kitchen and Bath Business Show (KBIS) and the International Builders Show (IBS) have been inspiring apartment developers for decades, and in 2022 they have once again co-located in Orlando, Florida as part of Design + Build Week. Here are five trends that will continue to resonate with prospective residents in 2023.

A touch of color

Some multi-family owners and managers still feel that adding color is a risky proposition. But playing too carefully can result in a bland property that doesn’t appeal to residents. One way to subtly introduce color into common areas is to borrow from the palette used by the marketing team for the brand message.

Incorporate color while adding a visual upgrade to apartments by combining colorful and neutral cabinetry. Blues and greens are all the rage right now. Like others at KBIS, German kitchen maker Nobilia introduced its Natura collection – with cabinetry in Fjord Blue and Mineral Green – with a focus on organic living.

The color green is known to reduce stress and is associated with opulence, luxury and nature according to Wellborn Cabinets who recently introduced a new green option called Celtic. Celtic would be effective as a focal point in amenity spaces, especially with bronze, brass or gold hardware.

Pattern adds personality

Walking through compositions can reveal that a colorful fixture is needed in amenity spaces or apartments. Image courtesy of Smeg

Colorful kitchen appliances and bathroom accessories are another way to add personality to amenity spaces. Manufacturers go beyond basic stainless steel with colorful options designed to grab attention.

Market research might show that bolder options like stained kitchen or bathroom sinks are the right choice for a bespoke property with forward-thinking or “manufacturer” demographics. House of Rohl offers a range of colors from buttoned navy to bright purple. This year’s KBIS also saw the continuation of cement-colored and black fixtures inspired by urban lofts.

Decorative tile flooring.  A patterned floor will grab the attention of prospects and is an easy way to spruce up a drab room or hallway.  Photo by Diana Mosher
A patterned floor will grab the attention of prospects and is an easy way to spruce up a drab room or hallway. Photo by Diana Mosher

Tile continues to be an effective way to introduce pattern and color to swimming pools, kitchen backsplashes and bathroom walls. A patterned tile floor can make prospects want to stop and take pictures during their tour. It’s also a great way to spruce up a dull room or hallway. Ceramic tiles are an affordable option with limitless styling options. And, as a fake material, ceramic tile technology has advanced so much that it is difficult to distinguish it from wood, marble and other organic materials.

Hands-free technology

COVID-19 has made everyone aware of high-touch surface points. Homeowners are increasingly turning to hands-free and voice-activated technology to reduce the spread of germs. Appliances offering touchless technology have become the stars of the single-family kitchen and bathroom. Apartment investors are also exploring hands-free technology for amenity spaces and units.

Legrand sensors.  Image reproduced with the kind permission of Legrand
Occupancy sensors are an ideal way to achieve energy savings in multi-family properties. Radiant occupancy/vacancy sensors automatically turn lights off when a room is unoccupied for a certain period of time. Image reproduced with the kind permission of Legrand

Legrand’s motion-activated light switches were on display at KBIS, featuring an innovative touchless control for a convenient, germ-free way to turn lights on, with just the wave of your hand. Designed for use in residential and commercial applications, Legrand’s motion-activated light switch easily installs in 15 minutes or less, fitting into an existing electrical box. It can be used in single-pole and three-way applications.

KBIS and IBS are also the places to find the latest from a wide range of manufacturers who are rolling out new technology for kitchen and bathroom faucets that turn on and off with the wave of a hand. . TOTO’s touchless smart sensor faucets and toilet flush valves use technology that generates electricity whenever water spins a small internal turbine. This electrical energy powers the touchless faucet or flush valve. There is no minimum usage requirement.

Convenience-minded apartment investors are also watching developments in smart toilet technology. Toilets with a lid that automatically opens and closes hands-free are now a luxury item (perhaps a splurge for the clubhouse or pool). But future iterations will likely have lower prices.

health and wellbeing

Delta rain stick.  Image courtesy of Delta
Delta Faucet’s eco-friendly showerhead is partially made of recycled, ocean-bound plastics and uses at least 20% less water than the industry standard. Image courtesy of Delta

Spa-inspired living is appealing to single and multi-family residents. Organic finishes, biophilic credentials, and a quiet space away from family to relax or meditate are in demand. Environmental protection is also a priority. These consumer preferences were expressed at KBIS and IBS where the conservation and reuse of materials were important themes.

The RainStick water-saving shower promises single-family homeowners an attractive return on investment by saving an average of $500-700 per year. RainStick starts with fresh mains water. But, instead of flowing to the sewer, the water is captured, put into circulation and cleaned in real time to avoid waste. RainStick’s UV-LED technology disinfects the shower water of any bacteria or viruses.

Eight million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean each year. Delta’s First Wave Innovation Lab has created a showerhead made partially from recycled, ocean-bound plastics. The fixture is WaterSense certified – it uses at least 20% less water than the industry standard – and has eight different spray settings.

Beko has had a presence in the United States for five years, but in 2022 it launched a major expansion at KBIS with new initiatives, partnerships and products. For example, Beko’s RecycledTub washing machines and washer-dryers are designed to reduce plastic pollution. They use high performance materials that have been created from recycled plastic bottles.

The final touch

Barn door.  Image by Diana Mosher
Replace some of the usual apartment community doors with a stylish alternative. Image by Diana Mosher

As always, differentiation is the key to success for multi-family investors. Properties should have relevant focal points along the way to capture the interest of prospects as they weigh their options. KBIS and IBS showcased products that can help apartments create Instagram moments and retain long-term residents.

For example, consider replacing the classic stainless steel extractor hood in the communal kitchen with a more memorable option such as wooden, plaster, brick or mixed metal hoods. Replace bland doors in a few key places with more unusual doors. And never forget that apartment dwellers like to gather around a fireplace or indoor hearth. Strategic custom touches placed around the property can help multi-family investors keep up with the new pool of single-family rentals flooding the market.