New Luxury Condo Design: Understated


When touring apartments with buyers, she added, “the spaces that I see them attracted to, and wanting to move on, have design that’s very serene and very calming, with natural elements.”

There are many factors driving the move to simpler design. Trends are always cyclical and we may be entering a period when minimalist, understated details reign supreme once again. The pandemic has changed buyer priorities, and interiors with familiar design details can be comforting, which may make them more desirable.

Another big consideration is a massive oversupply of apartments with stratospheric prices. “The challenge has been that new development in this go-go period that really peaked around 2014, 2015 was focused on super luxury, amenity wars, materials and uniqueness,” said Jonathan Miller of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel, who defined “super luxury” apartments as those costing more than $5 million. “And now you’re in a market where north of $2 million is disproportionately softer than below $2 million, in terms of activity.”

By the end of 2020, Mr. Miller estimated, there will be 8,700 unsold new development condos in Manhattan, which will take about 8.7 years to sell out. “In a balanced market, you’d expect two to three years to sell out,” he said.

One way developers can succeed in such a market, “is to create a product that has been sorely missed,” he said, including apartments at somewhat more attainable price points. “I call it ‘housing for mere mortals,’” Mr. Miller said.

When developers aim to keep prices lower, there’s less money available for dazzling stone, custom-made bronze hardware and Gaggenau steam ovens. But that might be perfectly acceptable for many of today’s buyers.

“Who’s not feeling anxious? Who’s not wondering what’s next, and what’s going to happen in the world?” Ms. Parker asked. “To have these places that feel like a big hug and feel calm — I knew that’s what New Yorkers needed.”

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