The latest design trends in residential projects


As boutique residential projects continue to grow in popularity, the design elements of these projects have become essential in attracting buyers and ensuring the project stands out in a crowded market

Cottee ParkerThe Urban Developer


Soko Penthouse Apartments, West End [Scott Burrows Photography]

Although design is an integral aspect of projects of all scopes and sizes, it presents a unique opportunity in boutique residential projects for developers and designers to craft a luxury environment that enhances the lifestyle of the building’s residents.

With purchasers becoming more design-savvy, it is now more important than ever to consider what products and design elements will be included in a project.

A much larger range of options is available due to new material technologies and colours particularly in metal finishing and bench tops. This has made it easier to create custom designs and details unique to each new project.

Zahra Apartments, New Farm – Luxury brands and new material technologies

Zahra Apartments, New Farm – Luxury brands and new material technologies

As technology makes implementing complex designs simpler, developers must ensure that they are remaining up-to-date with the latest design trends, features and products that purchasers are looking for when choosing their apartments.

Cottee Parker Architects director Sandra Browne has revealed a number of current and upcoming design trends in boutique residential projects:

Customisable builds

“One of the things we’re noticing, particularly in the high-end apartment market, is the desire for people to customise their own space so they feel like they’re not buying a generic off-the-plan product,” Browne said.

“Within reason, buyers have the ability to have a say in what their home is going to be like in terms of finishes and overall apartment layout.

“We’ve even seen some multi-unit amalgamations, additions of a flexible multi-purpose room and reconfigurations of the floor plates to capture the internal design the purchaser wants.”

Hotel features

“Another big trend is bringing hotel features and facilities into apartments,” Browne said.

“Whether it’s a sense of arrival when you come into the apartment, putting feature lighting throughout common areas, or creating shared amenities that make residents feel like they’re living in a hotel – these are all great design features that are becoming the norm in boutique projects such as Fabric at Newstead.”

Fabric Apartments, Teneriffe – Resort style pool facilities

Fabric Apartments, Teneriffe – Resort style pool facilities

“Previously, corridors and entry points like lobbies were often the last thing designers and developers would think about. But now, there’s a priority placed on them and we’re seeing the entry design set the tone for the rest of the development.

“A good example of this is in Mahala at Mermaid Beach. With the luxurious entry points making it feel like coming into a hotel lobby, and the attention to detail in the design creating a highly liveable and enjoyable space for residents.”

Mahala Mermaid Beach, Gold Coast – Hotel inspired foyer

Mahala Mermaid Beach, Gold Coast – Hotel inspired foyer

Emphasis on lighting

“There is a lot more emphasis on lighting in high-end projects, and we’re seeing it being used to create features and ambience throughout entire projects. For example, in the kitchen, lighting is either emphasised with a decorative or feature pendant or it is recessed to create a moodier glow and ambience.

“Projects are now incorporating LED strip lighting, lighting control and automated systems into their projects, especially as these products become more affordable and accessible.

“It’s an easy way to make a space feel more upmarket, for example at Zahra in New Farm which uses recessed LED lighting throughout kitchens and bathrooms.”

Zahra Apartments, New Farm – Recessed ambient lighting

Zahra Apartments, New Farm – Recessed ambient lighting

Functionality & storage

“In the larger apartments we’re beginning to see a shift toward integrating functionality and storage with the overall design,” Browne said.

“For example, we’ve had a lot of requests in larger apartments to include a ‘butler’s pantry’ in addition to the kitchen – this provides a way for residents to utilise a second space to store all of their things, while keeping the main kitchen free from clutter and as a central showpiece for the apartment.

“The buyers of these boutique apartments all have different lifestyles and different requirements, which is why we’re also seeing the addition of ‘mud rooms’ and other oversized storage rooms where people can store everything they need for their lifestyle – like hiking equipment, kayaks and bikes.”

Wellness & lifestyle

“As with a lot of other development types, health and wellness is quickly becoming key for residents looking at boutique projects and it is at the forefront of a buyer’s mind when thinking about their space.

“There has been an obvious shift toward including wellness spaces like zen gardens, yoga spaces, and relaxation areas where they can escape the noise of the city.”

Zahra Apartments, New Farm – Zen Garden

Zahra Apartments, New Farm – Zen Garden

“Lifestyle is also a big factor in boutique apartment design, and things like shared private dining areas, integrated wine cellars in apartments and rooftop fire pits are becoming key design elements that buyers are looking for.

“Bathrooms are also no longer just functional and utilitarian, instead they are spaces where residents can escape and treat themselves.”

“Indoor-outdoor living spaces also feature heavily in this regard, with fully openable full-height doors used to join the indoors with the outdoors. There is also a trend toward focusing on the design of outdoor areas with planters being used to dress up those spaces and make them more like living spaces such as in our project The Sovereign.”

The Sovereign Residences, Sovereign Island – Indoor and outdoor combined living space

The Sovereign Residences, Sovereign Island – Indoor and outdoor combined living space

High-end appliances

“As purchasers continue to become more aware of the environmental impacts of their choices, and informed when it comes to apartment design, we are seeing a clear trend toward the inclusion of high-end brand name appliances such as Gaggenau and Sub-Zero,” Browne said.

“While there may be a higher price point for these appliances up front, the state-of-the-art technology, long warranties, water and energy efficiency of these products make them a great long-term investment.

Project design has the power to ensure the success of a project by setting it apart from the competition and drawing more buyers in, and designs that are ahead of the trends appeal to a wider cross-section of potential purchasers.