3 Tips for Designing Cabinetry for Co-Living Communities

3 Tips for Designing Cabinetry for Co-Living Communities

It’s one thing to design a demonstration kitchen – one that’s intended to be shared periodically by residents of a multifamily building, whether for culinary programming or private events. It’s another to design a true communal kitchen – the type commonly found in co-living communities, where residents have their own private bedrooms but also spend time in shared spaces, such as kitchens, where they choose to cook and dine together on a regular basis.

Co-living communities have numerous benefits, but they can also pose challenges for a designer. In a single residence, there are often multiple occupants with varying style preferences, different schedules and, in some cases, mobility challenges.  

So, our goal as designers is to create dynamic spaces that serve residents of all ages, and in various stages of life. When it comes to creating cabinetry for a co-living community, we achieve this by implementing a few key design principles:

Kitchens for a Crowd

Co-living communities have larger kitchens than you would traditionally find in a multifamily building. There are several reasons for this. First, they have more cabinetry to allow residents to store food, cookware and dishware in their own spaces. They also feature multiple workspaces so occupants can cook simultaneously, and many are large enough to house both an island and separate table so that groups can dine together or separately.

Since developers of co-living communities only need to include one (larger) kitchen, their overall cost is much lower than it would be in a traditional apartment building with one kitchen per unit. As a result, developers often splurge a bit, including additional details and features such as under-cabinet lighting, cutlery dividers in drawers and pullout shelves in base cabinets. 

Furniture-Quality Storage

In addition to kitchen cabinetry, co-living communities often have built-in cabinets — in shared living areas, as well as private bedrooms and baths — to maximize storage in smaller spaces.

Many co-living units are marketed as being fully furnished, so these cabinetry solutions add both functionality and design uniformity to units while eliminating the need for residents to replace furniture in the event one of their roommates moves out. For example, it’s common for bedrooms to include built-in storage, closets and a built-in desk space.

Contemporary Durability

Because co-living appeals to younger, more transient renters, the cabinetry designs found in these communities are typically contemporary, with clean lines and neutral colors. Some developers opt for a more industrial, loft-like style, with concrete countertops, stainless steel shelving and other raw materials.

Regardless of style, durability and easy maintenance are key, especially in kitchens, which may be used multiple times in a single evening if roommates prepare meals separately.

These are just a few of the cabinetry design principles that are being incorporated into co-living communities. If you’re interested in learning more about co-living or would like to adapt a kitchen in an existing community, contact me at 312-266-2341.

Jane Kelly
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