Design elements in rented houses | Think realty



Planning and interior design are critical to your Build-to-Rent strategy.

When it comes to real estate, most people adhere to the “Location, Location, Location” axiom. But there is one more element that I consider equally important.

Kitchen, kitchen, kitchen.

The kitchen has long been the centerpiece of family gatherings, whether it’s a family evening meal, a leisurely Sunday breakfast, or an important conversation about family matters. It looks like even when the pandemic is over, home cooking will continue to grow. People in the US continue to cook more, according to research firm Hunter, with 71 percent saying they will continue to do so after the pandemic ends.

Kitchen renovation provides a solid return on investment. According to, a $ 20,000 renovation brings in roughly 81 percent ROI. My philosophy: why wait for a renovation? My company specializes in new rental properties and goes to great lengths to ensure that kitchens in our properties have more attractive amenities and layouts than kitchens in similarly priced homes.

Why? It is important to give customers what they want. According to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2018, 58 percent of buyers who made a purchase in the past 12 months said their preferred kitchen style was extremely or very important to their home buying decision. Including stainless steel appliances, granite countertops and open floor plans make homes even more attractive to buyers.

Look to the professionals for a critical eye

To differentiate our Build-to-Rent units from our competitors, you need to use professionally designed floor plans and interior designers. When you have a working relationship with talented architecture and design professionals, your property will attract more buyers or tenants.

As an investor, it’s also important to control costs, creating economies of scale while creating enough unique options to make every home stand out. This strategy is used at the macro level by big builders like Pulte. When you build thousands of homes each year, it’s much easier to achieve economies of scale while still differentiating each home.

In my experience, it was helpful to rely on talented architects, builders and designers who made minor changes, allowing us to offer unique options. In one of my company’s projects, we present 13 different floor plans, thanks to the wonderful architects who were our cooperation partners.

Designers and directors are equally important. If a professional designer chooses the flooring, paint colors, countertops and appliances, and then put it all together with all the right little things, it will pay off in the long run. When potential tenants enter our phased model, we want to immediately say, “Yes, I like this kitchen.”

Also make sure you work with designers who understand local trends and tastes. Design tastes vary from region to region, and it’s important to know that what flies in Nashville or Atlanta may not work in Florida. The right designer will understand these nuances and design something that will attract local tenants.

I’ve seen the power of professionals work over and over again as I enter a new market. Start with a great architecture team that draws up a variety of ready-made and affordable floor plans, and then ties it all together with designers and production companies who are adept at finding exactly what you need.

When it all comes together, you have kitchens where people really want to come together. Kitchen design often makes or breaks projects.

Bruce McNeilage is a managing member and co-founder of Kinloch Partners and a partner in Harpeth Development. He is a passionate advocate for affordability and home ownership, and has a large investment in Nashville, Tennessee as well as the Southeast. Find out more about his projects, including single-family rental developments and Solo East and North condominium projects at


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