Living well today is now more than ever open to interpretation and at the forefront are millennial aged consumers (approximately 25-35 year olds) who are impacting luxury brands and businesses. The luxury lifestyle for the millennial generation follows a new set of rules, especially when it comes to home purchases.
The marketplace is responding because millennial age homebuyers have much different and less traditional preferences than their baby boomer parents. Millennials want to understand more than the beauty of a property, but its overall function and the experience it provides. Is the home an investment? Is it timeless? Does it express its buyer’s values? I discussed these and other issues at a recent panel at the Pacific Design Center’s Fall Market. These considerations are relevant to those who want to appeal to these buyers and to those evaluating when and how to value a home for sale.
1. Walkability Millennials look for neighborhoods, buildings or communities where it’s easy to walk or bike to shopping, entertainment and recreation, basically everything. Because they are often delaying their first time purchase, they can often afford to buy a more expensive home provided it’s close to an urban or suburban center.
2. Environmentally Sound The environment and sustainability are key concerns for these buyers. How much does a home and décor impact the environment? They value energy efficiency and ethically sourced building materials. Not everything needs to be new: the popularity of quartz and Corian countertops (forget marble or granite), living plant walls that allow the outside in and re-purposed lumber as design elements are examples of these prevailing trends.
3. Technology Smart, automated homes (tied to NEST or accessible through Alexa) are sought out. Automation is appealing to millenials as is customization. As digital natives, they are not afraid to let technology impact a space—from multicolored light controls to wireless sound/video systems; these buyers are comfortable with and seek out tech innovations. Green technology is in the mix too.
4. Functional and Streamlined There’s a reason mid-century modern décor is so coveted by millennials: the minimalist style means form and function combine. A bar cart is a statement piece but on wheels, it moves around and becomes a focus for entertaining. Functional built-in for storage or display as well as furniture are prime requests.
5. Craftsmanship Artisan-made trumps mass-produced when it comes to interior décor. Rustic elements (rustic beams/use of unfinished lumber/farm sinks) are sought out. Architectural finishes—barn door closets, for instance—show again the preference for minimalism and functionality.
6. Personal Self-Expression At home, millennials want authenticity coupled with space for self-expression. (Brands must meet this standard of authenticity too.) This kitchen designed by Charlotte, North Carolina’s New Old (newold.com) encapsulates these desires: there’s a mix of repurposed materials including wood and brick, different patterns and textures, a mid-century modern feel, vintage furniture, room for personalization (goat portrait over fireplace) and industrial lighting. It’s a place where someone can put down roots, with a touch of history, coupled with the latest technology and energy efficient appliances.
I want to thank my fellow panel participants: Luxe Interiors + Design associate publisher Vanessa Kogevinas who moderated the Next Generation: The Business of Redefining Luxury panel; interior designer Lynnea Jean Schwieters, chairperson, SoCal Neo Classicists; and architects Wade Weissmann, founder and principal, Wade Weissmann Architecture and Paul Brant Williger, president, ICAA Southern California.