How to Design Model Apartments for Occupancy

When a prospective resident sets foot inside your model apartment, there’s one reaction you’re hoping for: a sharp intake of breath, followed by a soft “Wow. It’s beautiful.”

This type of response isn’t simply an indication that your model is impeccably designed. It signals that your model makes the prospect feel right at home. And if they can imagine themselves living in your model, they’re much more likely to become your next resident.

That’s the value of designing for occupancy, and it’s the reason model apartments have the potential to deliver a significant return on investment.

Model Apartment Design That Drives ROI

Designed kitchen in Model55 Apartment Assembly

Designing a model apartment for occupancy is more complex than selecting beautiful furniture and trendy decor. Model designs must be carefully calibrated to reflect the lifestyle of the residents your community aims to attract.

In today’s competitive market, showing prospects an empty apartment or hastily designed model leaves you underleveraged when it comes to optimizing for conversions.

The most effective way to convert a prospect into a resident? Create a thoughtfully curated space that feels like it was made just for them.

Designing for occupancy allows you to show prospects what it would be like to live in your community rather than merely tell them about the benefits you offer. Your model is an opportunity to not only showcase a space but to project a specific lifestyle. The most powerful model apartment is one your soon-to-be residents can see themselves coming home to every night.

Considerations When Designing for Occupancy

model apartment interior design beautiful bedroom

How do you design a model apartment to increase occupancy? Every aspect of the design should be intentional, taking these considerations into account:

Resident persona

Before design ever begins, it’s crucial to establish a resident persona that describes the ideal resident a community seeks to attract. Resident personas should include basic demographics as well as information about potential interests, hobbies, and lifestyle choices. Each subsequent design decision is made with that persona in mind, resulting in a model that feels tailor-made for your ideal residents.


The best models are designed to sit in the sweet spot between aspirational and affordable. Luxury apartments absolutely require luxury furnishings to attract the right residents. However, a model can be designed to be too high-end for its price point. If the furnishings inside a model seem unattainable, prospects may perceive that they aren’t the right fit or won’t be able to afford to live in your community, even if their budget says otherwise.


Interior design trends vary depending on where a community is located. Sleek, urban designs are typically most appealing to city dwellers, whereas classic, rustic elements often work better in rural areas. You can also incorporate regional variation into the design to give your model a strong sense of place.

Intimate details

model apartment interior design bedroom with dog on pet bed

Model apartments are no longer designed to look like pristine hotel rooms, cold and untouched. Instead, intimate details are incorporated to make these spaces feel warm and welcoming. Small traces of “real life,” such as placing a newspaper (or tablet) on the kitchen table, or adding a dog bed in the master bedroom, reinforce the “show don’t tell” approach and help prospects connect with your community.


Follow established guidelines to ensure that furniture placement not only adheres to design best practices but also meets accessibility standards. For example, the distance between a coffee table and sofa should be approximately 18”, and walkways between pieces of furniture should be approximately 36”. These guidelines ensure proper clearance for safety and also prevent models from feeling cramped.

Furniture dimensions

Perhaps surprisingly, furniture dimensions play a significant role in designing for occupancy. It’s a given that furniture should be sized appropriately for the space to illustrate to prospects what can realistically be expected to fit in the apartment. But whether you choose a twin bed or a queen size mattress, or the amount of dining seat capacity you designate, is also a direct reflection of your resident persona.

Strategic budgeting

Strategically allocate funds for design elements that will yield the most return on investment. Even in luxury model apartments with larger budgets, some elements matter more than others. For example, instead of investing in an expensive mattress that prospects will never see or sleep on, consider allocating some of that budget toward sourcing luxurious, top-quality bedding instead.

Quality materials

model apartment interior design kitchen with quality details

As prospective residents tour a model, they often look for signs of quality in key areas like the kitchen, stopping to touch cabinets, and pull drawer handles. It’s important that the furnishings in a model not only look great but feel great, too. Strategic budgeting makes it possible to incorporate high-quality materials in the places prospects are most likely to focus on.

Common spaces

interior design common space in apartment building

Common spaces are often among the first areas that prospective residents see when they visit a property, and they instantly shape the perception of the community. Consider all the spaces that a prospect will encounter on their way to tour your model—and make sure those spaces leave a great first impression!

Video tours

Particularly in our current climate, it’s important to create an inviting experience for prospects who can’t visit your model in person. A model that is designed for occupancy can still evoke a strong response when viewed online. Add a 3D or virtual tour of your model to expand your reach to prospective residents.


When increasing occupancy is your primary goal, you need more than a model apartment designed with a beautiful aesthetic. You need a model that’s intentionally designed to generate ROI. There are many variables to take into account, but the trusted experts at Model55 are here to help. Contact us today to learn more about our turnkey model apartment solutions.


Sharon MacDonald
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