Who cares what baby boomers or generation Xers want these days in home features, interior design, and outdoor space? The cohort now poised to rule the world is the millennials — loosely defined as those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s and numbering between 80 million and 90 million. It’s the largest group to emerge since baby boomers, and it’s changing how home buying and design is conducted — along with the results.
Millennials are sparking some new trends, though the rules are loose. Preconceived notions about what is correct have been shaken and stirred, and the boundary between formal versus informal seems less important to them.
Home sellers should understand what millennials are after to attract this important market segment. But beware: One of this generation’s mantras is that nothing needs to be forever! Here are 6 tips:
1. Open, multifunctional interiors. The interior layouts that attract millennials come in all sorts of variations, but the key is fewer partitions and walls since this group likes to socialize and live casually. Many don’t want a formal living or dining room. And in smaller homes and condos, multifunctional spaces take on greater importance. Exercise equipment may share space in a bedroom, and a hammock may get tucked into a dining room corner if there’s no or little outdoor space
2. Less maintenance. Because millennials work long hours and have many interests, they prefer materials that require minimal time and care, such as faux wood or porcelain tiled floors that mimic wood or ventless fireplaces. And these buyers may not even be interested in built-in bookcases, since they reach for a tablet rather than a book to read.
3. Technologically efficient, green, and healthy. High on millennials’ wish list is being able to use all their “toys,” — tablets, phones, audio systems, programmable LED lighting, and energy-efficient heating and cooling systems and all the rest. Interiors with lots of outlets and flexible placement of charging stations are also appealing. Renewable and reclaimable materials such as bamboo and glass rank high, as do low-VOC paints and adhesives and appliances like steam ovens
4. Colorful pow, industrial wow, and comfortable chic. While many of their parents and older counterparts made beige the new white, this generation has veered toward grays and bold accents such as the burgundy accent wall. And they like the industrial look of weathered furniture and metal. But their choices also have to be comfortable. Many work from home, so they might sit on a couch at times to perform tasks instead of a desk.
5. Less outdoor space. While spending time outdoors still matters, having a large space to maintain is not of interest to this group. A small balcony or terrace will do nicely with gravel and some cactus rather than labor-intensive grass and rose bushes. But millennials still crave light and air, which suggests big windows, skylights, and glass walls that open.
6. Ready, set, go. Because millennials think in shorter time frames, they like the idea of a finished house. The more the seller has done, the better, so the buyer doesn’t have to spend time making changes.
Bottom line: Millennials don’t view their homes as a status symbol or long-term investment but as an important purchase for living now and enjoying life. But they also know that as they age, their tastes and style of doing everything may also evolve.