Unlike designing a bedroom, which often revolves around one person’s design preferences and needs, designing communal spaces requires appeasing a large group of people. This lofty goal can make it quite a challenge to design these community-minded rooms and outdoor areas. However, while each one will have its own quirks and requirements, there are a few considerations that can assist with all communal projects. Whether you are designing a rooftop garden, a family room, a conference center, or any other type of gathering space, use the 7 tips below to help propel your project in the right direction.
1. Keep Designing Communal Spaces Simple
Designing communal spaces doesn’t always have to have any fancy bells and whistles to impress or function. For example, rooftop lounging overlooking Chicago’s landscape is part of Bush Temple apartments. Providing a communal place for tenants to swim, socialize, and catch a bit of sun. Leaning into a more minimal and contemporary design with its neutral color palette and select seating. Provide plenty of room to reconfigure chairs for socialization. You might consider having two seating options to appease both shade lovers and sun worshippers. The bottom line: it accommodates the resident’s needs without a complex design and any unnecessary additions.
2. Make Comfort a Priority When Designing A Communal Space
Whether it is a game room or a conference center, no one will enjoy the space unless it is comfortable. We aren’t just talking about seating.
Lighting: Ensure that there is adequate light and that the space sets the right mood by layering lighting. To achieve this, you can install a dimmer switch on the overhead lighting to toggle the ambiance. For task lighting, try throwing a few lamps into the mix to create focused lighting and illuminate dark corners. Creating an outdoor space? You may want to string up some twinkle lights or try a tabletop firepit, depending on the purpose of the area.
Walking Space: Leave plenty of room between furniture so people can comfortably maneuver around without bumping into others or invading privacy. This is especially important if the communal space has multiple sections for socialization.
3. Aim for Sustainable Materials
Sustainable materials aren’t just better for the environment, but they also tend to be more durable and longer-lasting. This can save you money in the long run. Materials to consider include wood, leather, ceramic, metal, linen, etc. Above we see a conference room that has leaned into a neutral color scheme, yet it still feels warm and inviting thanks to its wood table, warm tones and illuminating pendant light. Another notable feature of designing a communal space is windows that allow plenty of natural light in. The perks of large windows in a communal space is that embracing natural light can improve well-being and increase productivity, as well as reduce energy consumption and hydro costs.
4. Go Open Concept
Open spaces are often the way to go when it comes to communal areas. It helps ensure every area gets adequate light sweeping through and it can also encourage users to take advantage of amenities when they see others using them. Above you will see that the co-working space keeps their work area open. However, you can also section off areas using furniture to create a bit of privacy and intimate seating areas. Beyond positioning furniture, you may want to try creating privacy in an office area with retractable room dividers or curtains. Many contemporary spaces also use glass to muffle acoustics and add a bit of separation.
5. Shift to Casual When Designing Communal Spaces
Even in a corporate setting, designing communal spaces with a bit more casual vibe is important. This will help ensure users feel relaxed in the setting, therefore making them more likely to want to use the area. A more relaxed design can also open up the opportunity for better brainstorming sessions when it comes to conference rooms and the like—since employees will feel more at ease and willing to put forth new ideas. Even if you already have a designed communal space or the plans for one drawn up, you can shift its vibe to more casual with a few select changes.
Leisure: Encourage relaxation through fun by adding a games table where appropriate, such as in a lounge or break room. Alternatively, a reading nook or the addition of a coffee bar can also achieve a similar effect.
Art: Go bold and playful with an abstract art piece or two. It will infuse the space with color and a youthful vibe.
Furniture and Accessories: Add a few pieces that you would find in a home setting. This may include a plush couch with throw pillows, a few lounge chairs, a couple table lamps, or a throw rug.
6. Add a Conversation Piece
No one likes awkward silence or stagnant conversation, so try adding a focal point that will give people something to talk about. This may include eye-catching furniture, an unusual piece of art, a grand light fixture, or a living wall, like pictured. A living wall is a great addition to any space since it can be customized to suit any amount of light and it comes with many benefits. Indoor greenery filters pollutants out of the air and provides a way to fulfill our biological need to connect with nature, leading to improved mental and physical health.
7. Put Function First, Design Second
Set aside the latest design trends and your personal taste to make sure the communal area functions for its purpose. One easy way to do this is to poll potential users. Questions you may want to ask are:
– What would you use the space for?
– How often would you use it?
– What would be useful for your needs?
– What is the #1 thing you would like to see in the space?
Once you have those basics pinned down, build your design around it—instead of the other way around.
Designing communal spaces are all about fulfilling the users wants and needs. They can be more of a challenge to design, but they hold a ton of potential to add value to users’ lives when thought and care are put into their construction.
This post is a collaboration of ideas, writers and relatable affiliate links. All opinions are our own and for informational purposes only.