Designing for a New Generation

by Katie Sloan

Three easy ways to modernize the look of student housing interiors.


Britany Simon says paint, fixtures and flooring are easy fixes, and will appeal to Millennials’ sensibilites.College students today never leave home without their smart phone or iPad in order to be continuously connected to multiple forms of social media and the latest trending topics. Because of this, it is even more important today that student housing communities stay on top of these trends to grab and keep student’s attention when they are making their living decisions.

As an interior designer, I am a true believer that your environment and the space you live in has a great impact on your mood, productivity and overall well being. As a student, you are not only living and socializing in the space, but you are also working and studying there. This means that today’s student housing developer faces an interesting challenge — creating a custom, trendy, comfortable and versatile space.

I don’t believe you have to start from scratch in order to achieve a more updated and trendy space. That’s good news for those property owners who just want to give a quick facelift to their existing community. There are three very simple things you can do to make a huge difference quickly and affordably.

The first thing you can do is change up the paint. Leave brown or beige for your grandmother’s walls. In today’s interiors, you are seeing far more gray tones along with a bolder use of color. The younger generation is far more adventurous with color, and their living spaces should reflect that. Also, consider the color psychology and how it directly affects your moods and emotions.

• Red — An energy color that we associate with movement and excitement, a perfect choice for a lobby or common area.

• Green — This color is typically associated with nature, harmony and growth. It would be best used in a study area or classroom.

• Blue — A calm, restorative color that encourages relaxation and is ideal for a bedroom or sleeping area.

• White — Apart from its emotional influences provides a much-needed rest for the eyes and brain. A lot of modern spaces use a large amount of white in furniture and on walls in order to simplify the bolder use of color and to help balance it out from over-stimulation.

As important as it is to use color in a space, it is equally as important not to abuse it.

The second way to instantly update and modernize a space is through fixtures. From door hardware, to cabinet hardware, to fans and lighting, updating these elements will instantly transform a space to feel current. Look for simple lines and shapes and updated finishes in the silver tones.

Look for pieces, such as chandeliers and bright-colored glass fixtures, which you can add to the common spaces around your community for a year or two, until the trend changes. You shouldn’t spend a fortune on these additions, but consider them an important investment to drive traffic to your community and to fill up space for that specific year. Paying attention to the smaller details make a larger impact in the final picture.

The third way you can quickly modernize a space is through flooring. With so many options in commercial carpeting these days, why go with your usual broadloom option? This is a place where you can really go wild with color and patterns. Carpet tiles allow you to play with endless modern style alternatives in an extremely functional product for commercial housing settings. Carpet tiles are easily removable and changeable if they get ruined, so you can quickly freshen up a space year after year.

Using these three simple tools to update and modernize living spaces along with functional, modern and smart furniture selections can completely change the look of student housing today. So get out there, start modernizing, be adventurous with style and color and enjoy the benefits of having students flock to live at YOUR community.

— Britany Simon is the owner of Brtiany Simon Design. She was a finalist on HGTV’s “Design Star” Season 7.


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