text by SHANI SILVER
photography by BRETT BEYER
Bobby Berk, Designer, CEO of Bobby Berk Home, recently designed homes in Las Vegas with a very targeted audience in mind: Millennials. Yep! Everyone’s favorite generation to hate on is ready to buy home #1, and Berk is ready for them. As creative director for the Responsive Homes project, and built in partnership with Bassenian Lagoni Architects, and, AndersonBaron, Berk designed adaptable floorpans with smart tech capabilities (of course) and eco-friendly elements. The homes aren’t just designed for millennials, they were designed by one, too!
HOW DID THIS PROJECT COME ABOUT?
Hanley Wood of Builder Magazine contacted me through Ketchum PR, and was looking for a designer whom they felt represented the millennial demographic. They wanted to tap into this demographic and produce homes that showcased features that appealed to millennial buyers.
The project was to be featured at the International Builder Show. For the construction team, they partnered with Pardee’s Vegas division. They called me up, we had a meeting, and a partnership was born!
WHAT IS THE KEY DIFFERENCE IN BUILDING HOMES SPECIFICALLY FOR MILLENNIALS VS. HOMES BUILT FOR THE PUBLIC AT LARGE?
Millennials are a very savvy and choosey bunch. With all of the information they have at their fingertips, they are able to research and educate themselves more than any generation before.
They are looking for customization, high end finishes (or high design on a budget), flexible layouts with income potential, and adjacency to alternate forms of transportation and community parks and recreation.
WHAT DO MILLENNIALS LOOK FOR IN THEIR FIRST HOME PURCHASE THAT STANDS OUT FROM OTHER GENERATIONAL GROUPS?
One, they’re looking for something that doesn’t look cookie cutter and mass-produced. This raises the question, how can builders inject details and customizable options into their homes that not only allow them to turn a profit, but not look like what everyone else out there is doing?
There are some simple ways to inject good design without breaking the bank. An example that comes to mind is the simple subway tile that we used in the farmhouse. We took the most basic, inexpensive white [%361%] added a dark grout, and it gives it a graphic punch. The dark grout is the same price as white grout, and it really makes the kitchen. This isn’t a new idea, but you don’t see it much in production builds.
Two, Millennials want something affordable. There are so many TV shows out there about renovating to provide income potential, but what about new builds that offer an income suite already built-in? This income opportunity can potentially take the sting out of taking on a new mortgage, and builders need to get on board this idea.
Think Airbnb, think roommates, think mother-in-law suite. Not only do they want this flexible space, but they want more entertaining space in general. This includes space to entertain outdoors. You can see in both homes that we extended the entertaining space to the outdoors and there is a sense of continuation between indoors and out. This is why we carried the same tile flooring outside in both plans.
WHAT, OTHER THAN THE MILLENNIAL LIFESTYLE, INSPIRED THESE DESIGNS?
I was inspired by what I DIDN’T see in the Las Vegas area. There is so much of the (what I like to call) “Faux-Tuscan” aesthetic in Vegas. The codes out here only allow for a specific type of architecture, with a lean lexicon of allowable architectural elements and even paint colors. So much of what has been done in the building industry in this area has been like a machine that keeps turning out the same stuff year after year.
We wanted to still think regionally, considering the local climate and context, but really push the envelope with the style of these homes. What we came up with is two distinct experiments with the same millennial marketing theme. The first home references a bit more of the traditional, but with a modern twist on a farmhouse. The second is more of a backdrop for a collection of modern art. I think they both make maximum use of space, while providing a lot of options for occupants where the layouts are concerned.
WHAT COMPONENT OF THESE DESIGNS ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
I love that the homes feel even larger than they are. Our use of a consistent material palette and cohesive schemes that carry throughout both homes make them feel so expansive. My favorite features from each home are unique. I love the warmth and coziness of the farmhouse, which despite its homey charm still feels quite grand. In the large house, I have to say I love the master suite. The black hex tile really made that space feel so graphic and modern, and yet so sexy!
WHAT WAS THE GREATEST CHALLENGE IN COMING UP WITH THESE CONCEPTS?
We wanted to specify materials, furniture and art that was actually at an affordable price point that millennials could potentially purchase at this stage of their lives. Everything we chose spoke to that demographic, so it was a challenge not wanting to go over the top, but still keeping it cool, stylish, and yet feasible.
WHAT IS THE BEST REACTION YOU’VE HAD TO THESE HOMES SO FAR?
Someone coming through said, “You know, I think these homes are just perfect! When can I move in?” That made me smile.
Blue Dot, CB2, RS Barcelona, Oeuf, Fermob
Kichler, Andrew Neyer
West Elm, Roost, Custom
Kichler, West Elm, Restoration Hardware
SEE MORE MILLENNIAL-INSPIRED HOMES HERE