Pivot North Architecture

What influences the design of a model unit?

What influences the design of a model unit?

January 10th, 2024 | by: Allison Furlan 



When I design a model unit for a project there are several factors that are involved in the overall design and directionThe budget, timeline, location, demographic, and unit type all influence the objects and overall feeling that I try to capture when designing a model unitGenerally, the client drives the budget and timeline that we need to work within and sometime their marketing team is involved in developing a profile of the target demographicAfter understanding the general direction and goals we start to develop a profile and overall feeling we want the model to evoke. For example, a studio unit in a downtown urban area would have an entirely different feeling and design direction than a two-bedroom apartment in the suburbs.   


Developing a Profile  

After considering the above factors I develop a unique profile of who lives in this apartment and why.  Are they a single person or coupleDo they have pets or childrenDid they relocate here and if so from whereWhat drew them to that location and what hobbies do they enjoyThroughout the design process I continuously refer to the profile to ensure that each item fits within the profile we have developedWe designed this specific one bedroom unit around a professional couple who relocated to the area to be closer to nature and enjoy a slower pace of lifeThey enjoy traveling, cooking, reading, and the outdoors.   

Staged kitchen
Staged bedroom

Subtle things like the extra care that went into selecting items displayed on the kitchen counter such as the high-end knife block, Dutch oven, pour over coffee, and curated cookbooks lead you to believe that these people love to cook tasty foodThe full bar cart with ski lift glassware and cocktail books gives you the impression that they also like to entertain and relax with an artfully crafted beverageThe retro national park prints and active clothing in the bedroom along with the quirky books ranging from travel to Wes Anderson films let you know they enjoy traveling and have a sense of adventure.


Adding Local and Personal Touches  

I always try and budget some additional time and money to shop locally for a projectThese can be items needed to fill in various areas and originate from local purveyors and vendors.  The addition of simple items like a bag of coffee from a local roaster or local hand-woven tea towels in the kitchen or artwork from local artists, even bitters from a local company on the bar cart really add another level of “believability” to the space.  

Bitters from a local Spokane Valley company
Shopping locally for hand-woven artwork

These locally curated pieces give you the impression that these items were lovingly selected to adorn their apartmentThere is such a thing as “over-staging” an apartment or being too specific with a style where prospective renters cannot look past the clutter to see the potential of a unitA model room is a delicate balance of being staged but not overly lived-in and personalized so people can envision themselves living there.   






When in Doubt Steam it Out 

There are a lot of final touches and finesse that go into staging a model roomYes, there are the hours needed to select the perfect furniture and accessories and shopping locally but there are the last few touches that make a space feel specialThese attention to details can range anywhere from steaming the window coverings and bedding, removing all tags and labels, fluffing pillows, rolling towels, or adding Spanish moss and pebbles to artificial plants to elevate their appearanceCleaning and vacuuming the space to a spotless shine to ensure that when someone opens the door they walk in and say, “Wow I want to live here.  

Model room in progress









So why hire a professional?

If after reading this you still think designing and installing a model room seems easy, think again. There are so many facets of creating the perfect model room that effortlessly balances style, negative space, and the right blend of accessories. From space planning to selecting the correct scale of furniture, artwork, rugs, not to mention the time to curate everything from the sofa down to the toothbrushes and have everything arrive on time and on budget. Hiring a design professional takes the hassle out of designing, managing, assembling, and installing a detail-oriented space like a model room. 

Whether it is a new construction space or an existing apartment building, a model unit can dramatically help sell a space to a potential renter. Model rooms help people see the potential in a space that is a blank slate and help them envision how they can make that space feel like home. If you have need of a model unit, just ask the Interiors team at Pivot North!