Designing an appealing co-living space

Living Together2

In today’s interview we discuss the design of co-living spaces with interior designer Nuria Prieto – and how to turn them into places where communities can come together and thrive.

Nuria, what is important when designing a shared co-living home, where housemates have their own room but share a lounge, kitchen, and other common spaces?

First and foremost, it’s important to know which particular lifestyle the co-living areas need to be designed for, and the commonalities amongst the inhabitants sharing it. It could be that the space aims to encourage social gatherings or, as the definitions of ‘home’ and ‘workplace’ become increasingly blurred, it could be that shared spaces for work are more important. Perhaps the spaces are designed around wellness, as for example the Italian Building run by co-living operator Mason & Fifth. In this case, residents come together for fitness classes and healthy meals, and their habitat is designed with the same ethos. It all depends on the amount of space we have for those communal areas and what they will be used for, which are the main activities in common to all the occupants of the place.

You design a lot of hotels. Looking at modern residential and co-living developments, there seem to be more and more similarities between those two. What design features can you see that work well for co-living developments?

Historically, hotels have been places where many people rented rooms short-term. Hotels usually have quite a few public areas (lobbies, meetings rooms) that make them opportune spaces that work well for communal living. Even more so these days, we see how hotels demand to have public areas that are multifaceted and versatile, areas that can work simultaneously to have a formal work meeting, to meet with friends, to work or to have an informal meal, which is also one of the main design features that works perfectly for co-living purposes and consequently makes it even easier to convert a hotel, hostel, villa or even a motel into a co-living development.

For people aiming to buy an existing house or flat together, what are the important things to consider when refurbishing a place?

When considering refurbishing a house and turning it into a space for co-living it’s very important to keep the areas flexible and to use different approaches to create social connections. This includes the arrangement and function of the furniture and accessories used, the spacing of the rooms and different room types, depending on what people are looking for. For example, creating a large enough dining space at the centre of the common area, or rooms that are similar in size and big enough to accommodate a desk and chair.

Most importantly, sharing our living space doesn’t have to imply compromising on privacy, comfort or personal possessions; it can provide us with greater choice and flexibility, enabling us to live more efficiently, healthily, and sustainably.

You spend part of your time in Spain. Can you see co-living becoming popular there?

Thanks to changes in technology, many of us can now live and work from anywhere. As this movement expands, it means as a matter of course that more people are calling different countries home, whether it’s for three months, three years or longer.

Here in Spain, we’re seeing the same increase of entrepreneurs and freelancers ‘working from home’, and with this change in the perspective of work both in Spain and globally, it’s understandable that we look for more resources available to support and benefit the way that the world is moving. Co-living is one of those resources that we now have readily available, allowing anyone to create a life that promotes community, productivity, growth and balance. What we need to ensure is that these co-living spaces are designed for and appeal to all age groups, not just the younger end of the scale.

Do you have any interior design tips for our readers to make their rented space more homely, without breaking the bank?

There are new types of furniture that are better suited to communal living. Modular sofas for example, which can be combined in different ways to suit different activities. These elements can be arranged like a traditional sofa and armchairs, but they can also be split and arranged across the room to accommodate different activities taking place simultaneously.

Another cost-effective way is to add in some extra layers and texture to make the space feel more homely, to scatter books with pictures, photographs and objects that will make you happy every time you look at them across the room.

What are the services you offer to landlords and developers?

We offer a full range of interior design services for private clients and developers. For individual landlords who might just want to give their home a little refresh we also offer an e-design service which is a very affordable alternative to the traditional way of hiring a designer. Everything is done via email, it is a do-it-yourself decorating solution that provides you with a master plan for creating a professionally designed space, including a mood board and shopping list to achieve the look and atmosphere you want to create.

Nuria Small

Nuria Prieto Interior Design


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