When designing the interiors for affordable housing for graduate students, the goal is to create inviting, functional spaces that students will enjoy living in and that can be efficiently designed since every square foot built is part of the overall building cost. The interior design team works closely with the university, developer and architect to confirm the appropriate amount of common areas to budget for the build-out costs. Interior material selections can impact the project cost, so they need to be affordable, durable and aesthetically pleasing. There is a broad range of furniture types available that are durable and look great but are still affordable.
Graduate students generally prefer ‘private’ units with a kitchen, washer/dryer and living room area. Studio or one-bedroom units can be designed to meet these criteria but usually with limited living room furniture. In unit living rooms, a sofa is preferred over a loveseat when designing smaller sized units, so it might be best to forgo an end table to fit a sofa.
At Capstone Interiors we work closely with our development teams to evaluate even the smallest components in order to maintain functionality and desire-ability within the most efficient spaces to drive affordability. For instance, we recently did an evaluation to understand if having a built-in counter for stools is more efficient than space for a small dining table and chairs. Sometimes a mobile cart that fits 4 stools around it for dining is planned for three- or four-bedroom units since it is more flexible and generally more affordable than a built-in kitchen island.
It is more desirable if a bedroom can be designed efficiently to create space for an XL full-size bed or even a queen-size bed. A desk placed by a bed can eliminate the cost of a nightstand and placing chests under a bed can allow a smaller floor plan with very little compromise in functionality. Graduate students tend to prefer a built-in closet over a wardrobe furniture piece.
Using some of these and other space saving ideas can be creative solutions for designing efficient, affordable housing, resulting in a win-win for a university and its graduate students.