Published on April 30, 2019

When it comes to finding your dream apartment, there’s one specific feature you may be overlooking: the layout. While house hunters prioritize things like location and budget—both of which, for obvious reasons, are definitely important—real estate agents caution that overlooking the layout of a place is a big mistake. Before you start your search, spend some time determining what floorplan best suits your lifestyle. If you’re stuck on where to begin, it turns out one specific layout is a realtor favorite.

The clear winner? A floorplan that divides the apartment in two distinct sections. “My favorite layouts are ones that separate the public spaces (living, dining, library, kitchen) from the private spaces (bedrooms, home office, media room),” says Martin Eiden, a Compass Real Estate agent with a degree in architectural engineering. “This allows parents to entertain, while the kids can do their own thing.”

So while an open layout may initially sound appealing, opt for a blueprint that offers a little more privacy. Warburg Realty’s Nicole Durosko recommends this even for people without large families: “My advice for younger couples or individuals is to get at least a one-bedroom, so you can have a separate dining and sleeping area—studios can be confining,” she says. Since studio apartments can often run just as much as a one-bedroom, it’s likely that price won’t be a major differentiator.

If you do have one larger space that you want to compartmentalize, look to decor to instill some degree of separation. Room dividers come in a range of styles, from classic antiques to cool contemporary pieces—The Inside’s recent collaboration with heritage fabric brand Scalamandre offers a gorgeous screen that boasts clean, modern lines and vibrant patterns for some juxtaposition. Elsewhere, use rugs to craft small vignettes within a larger space. A larger Persian strategically placed to anchor a living room set creates a different vibe from a smaller, round rug situated in the corner to delineate a reading nook. It’s all about visual trickery.  

Whatever the case, be sure to add layout to your list of must-haves when apartment hunting. As Eiden notes, it can make or break a space—and your wallet. “It’s one thing to retile a bathroom or put in new kitchen cabinets,” he notes. “It’s another to reimagine a space. The cost difference is in multiples.”

See more real estate tips:
11 Insider Secrets From Real Estate Agents

Don’t Sign a Lease Without Asking These 10 Questions First
Real Estate Regret Is Real—Avoid These Mistakes

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