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Interior Design Is More Important Than Ever to the New Wave of Renters

Gen Zers are homebodies — their space matters to them because they spend much of their time inside. It shouldn’t surprise condo property managers that they pay close attention to interior design.

Young person holding Gen Z sign

Fun Facts About Gen Z

Here are a few quick facts about the most recent generation of renters:

  • This generation also goes by the iGeneration, Homelanders, post-millennials, centennials and Zoomers.

  • In the United States, 48% of Gen Zers are nonwhite.

  • They’re the first group born in the digital age.

  • This cohort of renters cares about social justice, equity and sustainability.

  • Gen Zers are pragmatic, self-reliant, authentic, direct and super collaborative.

Why Care About the iGeneration?

Zoomers are coming of age, driving rental demand as they graduate from college and get their own place. From 2018 to 2022, 4.5 million of them entered the property rental market. Millennials are still the dominant group but are now a renter-minority generation — more than half of them finally own houses. Considering they buy their first home at age 34 on average, many of their youngest members may end their renting days in the next few years.

Centennials outnumber millennials by 2.1 million and their population is still growing because of immigration. Eventually, Gen Zers will take over the housing rental market, so condo property managers should understand their sensibilities and preferences to attract and keep them as long-term tenants.

Group of Gen Z people

Consider these seven interior design ideas to appeal to this new wave of renters.

#1 Sustainable Materials

Zoomers deeply care about environmental issues. They spent their formative and adolescent years bombarded by news about climate change, so they’re aware of human activity’s negative impact on the planet. Gen Zers strive to do what’s right and expect the older generations to be part of the solution.

All discerning condo property managers hoping to be in Gen Z’s good graces should outfit their rentals with eco-friendly items. Adopting natural and renewable materials — such as cork and bamboo — is an excellent start. Embracing recycled, biodegradable solutions will also win you brownie points.

Post-millennials are particular about ethical consumption, too. Using eco-friendly furniture, furnishings and construction products may not suffice. The rental’s contents should come from ethical sources — manufacturers and dealers not engaging in exploitative business practices.

Source supplies from circular businesses. The circular economy is about eliminating waste, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and conserving natural resources. Supporting companies big on sustainability is music to centennials’ ears.

#2 Electric Appliances

Electrified rentals make a compelling sales pitch for Gen Zers. The youngest renters want to keep their carbon footprints as low as possible, and there’s no better way to do it than powering appliances with electricity rather than gas, oil or propane. It’s even better if a condo unit has a solar system.

Some upgrades are more costly than others, so start small if you’re on a tight budget. Begin by electrifying the stove and oven, then convert the water heater, clothes dryer and heating equipment.

#3 Paintable Walls

Homelanders value individuality and self-expression. They dislike being put in a box, preferring considerable latitude in defining who they are.

Grant your prospective Gen Z tenants the freedom to decorate their space and let them use the walls as blank canvases. Giving them free rein to choose interior colors and incorporate original artwork is a privilege they appreciate. Murals help personalize their experiences and turn generic rentals into their homes.

#4 Diverse Lights

Gen Zers hardly know the world without social media, so it’s vital for them to look great on Instagram, TikTok or whatever platform they’re on. They’re a sucker for unique lighting options whenever they feel like sharing their lives online.

Embellish your condo units with fascinating task, accent and decorative lights. Light-emitting diode strips, neon signs, lava lamps, ceiling projectors, disco balls and glow-in-the-dark stickers are fun ideas.

Novelty lights spice up the interior, but you ultimately want your Gen Z tenants to personalize their space. Moreover, leverage daylighting — a predominantly white kitchen feels bright and airy because its surfaces cause natural light to bounce around. Making a space feel clean and bright through light colors that contrast with darker decor supplement rentals that lack natural lighting.

#5 Smart Devices

Members of the iGeneration are digital natives. They expect devices to speak with each other seamlessly and be remotely in control. Incorporating smart home technology is a sound move to create a sense of interconnectedness. The question is, which devices should you buy?

Most Gen Zers own one or more pieces of smart tech, but nearly half of all renters don’t have any smart technology in their apartments yet. Focus on these to impress young tenants.

#6 Nostalgic Elements

Zoomers have a reputation for being the loneliness generation. In 2022, 79% of Gen Z adults reported being lonely. The internet has made them overly distracted, socially isolated and less dependent on loved ones. Everything is more accessible today, but young people yearn for simpler, older times, which is why they have anemoia — nostalgia for a period they’ve never lived.

You can’t build them a time machine, but adorning your rental with vintage and retro items is the next best thing. They love throwbacks to previous eras, so consider quaint goods, a plug-and-play record player and antique vases for home decor.

#7 Zodiac Emblems

Gen Z is less religious than the generations before them but turns to astrology for spirituality and self-care. They take comfort in horoscopes to gain a semblance of certainty in a turbulent world. Additionally, some love it just for fun.

Whether you share the same beliefs, the stars will align when you integrate zodiac signs into interior design. Concentrating on one or some astrological symbols can be hit or miss, so include all 12 to appeal to everyone. Hanging a poster, covering a seat with a throw blanket or filling a cabinet with mugs featuring the dozen zodiac signs are lovely ideas.

Ready Your Condo Rentals for Gen Z

Designing a space for renters from a different generation can be challenging, but you can understand them more deeply with an open mind. These seven interior design suggestions only scratch the surface, but they point you in the right direction.

Evelyn Long is a writer that specializes in housing market trends. She is also the founder of Renovated Magazine, where she writes essential resources for renters and homeowners. She has contributed to several other sites like National Association of Realtors and Realty Executives.


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