The Best One-Bedroom Apartments Have These 3 Things, According to Experts

published Apr 7, 2021
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As the world starts to catch that first twinkling gleam of the light at the end of this miserable pandemic tunnel, I’m wondering how on earth I’ve made it this far. Living alone (and then later, accompanied by my very good pandemic pup, Rodeo), I’ve yearned for the comfort of company. Yet at the same time, I’m grateful as all heck not to have spent the past 13 months trapped with roommates. All this to say: I’m indebted to my one-bedroom apartment.

I’m certain I’m the first to enlighten you with this truth: The pandemic has changed us. Renters and house-hunters in particular have shifted gears. For those like me, who reside in one-bedroom apartments or who are ditching their roommates, the features to look for in a one-bedroom have evolved. I spoke with real estate experts about the features that folks are asking for today in their one-bedroom escapes, and y’all, I’m hoping a new, better one-bedroom is at the end of my tunnel.

Spacious Living Rooms 

The one-bedroom apartment used to be the next logical level-up from the studio strictly for the added bedroom space. But sleeping quarters just don’t matter as much anymore. Chicago-based real estate broker Kennedy Baldwin says: “Because we’re spending so much more time in our apartments, more and more people are looking for one-bedrooms that have a big living space, just extra space to do things that you otherwise would have left your house to do.” With so many folks going a year without seeing their loved ones, entertaining and socializing are at the top of their must-have lists. That’s where the living room comes in.

Plus, countless employees have pivoted to remote work, changing priorities within the home. Brooklyn-based real estate broker Donald Lai puts it simply: “A lot of people don’t want to work where they sleep.” Bonus alternative space is now far more precious than it was before the pandemic. “That has definitely shifted a little bit, where people want a good-sized living area where they can put their home office,” Lai says. It’s always been helpful to separate the bedroom space from the workspace for good sleep hygiene. Now, house hunters are listening.

Credit: Sylvie Li

Old-School Charm

Unlike more modern cookie-cutter apartment and condo buildings, older buildings tend to boast unique living spaces. Lai has noticed older buildings trending for current shoppers. He says that while downtown Brooklyn condos have taken a hit over the past year, “some of the older co-ops… which had the more traditional spacier layouts were [still doing] okay.” Older homes have those spacious high ceilings and interesting nooks and alcoves. While those might have flummoxed renters or owners in the past, they’re now a perfect spot for a dedicated office space, reading nook, yoga corner — you name it.

Plus, old-school charm has that comforting vibe we all could use right now. “I really love Chicago-style walk-ups and I’d probably look for something with very nice crown moulding, something that’s old but with updated appliances,” says Baldwin, who was born and raised in the Windy City’s ultra-cool Logan Square neighborhood. The hygge of a creaking floor, the ornate details of decades-old molding — this is the warm embrace today’s apartment hunters so richly deserve.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Private Green Space 

Unsurprisingly, we’re all aching for some Vitamin D. Lai says that when he asks a client about what they’re looking for in a home, “The main thing is definitely outdoor space.” I don’t have private green space. I always kind of wanted it, and then brought home a puppy during Chicago’s winter. House training eight floors up is a nightmare, and I envy a balcony. 

A private space to pop outdoors for a breath of fresh air, a cup of coffee, or a much-needed scream into the abyss is just the ticket. Lai noted that during quarantine, “The cost of housing actually increased because people need more space, and outdoor space is definitely a premium, whether you have a terrace or balcony.” Households have become overnight experts on transforming a private green space into a glorified extension of the home. Folks are looking for that same feature for their one-bedroom. Trust me, I’m one of them!