When searching for an apartment to rent, you will encounter the term flex apartment.
The term arose in popularity during the 2000s as rent had soared in big cities and property owners wanted to attract prospective tenants using innovative ways.
In this blog post, you will learn about flex apartments including design tips and restrictions related to the same.
Flex Apartment: What Is It?
A flex apartment provides flexibility to the tenants to customize the space as per their needs. You can add another room that can serve as a bedroom, restroom, or office.
When you search for flex apartments, you can see listings such as “2 bedrooms/flex 3 bedroom apartment” or “Opportunity for flex 3 bed”.
The “3 bedrooms/flex 4 bedroom apartment” means that it is a 2 bedroom apartment that can be converted to a 3 bedroom apartment if required.
Moreover, “Opportunity for flex 3 bed” means that you can convert a 2 bedroom apartment to a 3 bedroom apartment.
Things to Consider When Buying a Flex Apartment
You should not buy a flex apartment without due diligence.
It is important that you conduct thorough research by asking the following questions upfront.
Is permission required from the local building control authority?
You should not assume that just because a building owner allows creating a wall to divide the rooms it is also legal.
In some states such as New York, you cannot build a pressurized wall to divide a room.
The restriction was enacted after firefighters faced difficulty putting out a fire in 2005 due to the pressurized wall built to separate rooms in a flex apartment.
But there are no restrictions for building a pressurized wall in other states. You need to confirm with the local authority about building a wall to separate flex rooms.
Moreover, you should also confirm with the building management company, superintendent, and condo or co-op board where applicable about building a wall.
What are the local building codes for creating a wall in a flex apartment?
Even if you are allowed to build a wall in a flex apartment, you may have to meet certain requirements of the local building codes regarding flex walls.
For instance, the local building codes in some states require the room to occupy at least 80 sq. feet. Floor space and a regulation size window to build a wall in a one or two-bedroom unit.
You should also consider whether the local building codes for the flex wall will serve your need.
Do you want a soundproof wall? Is sunlight important for the room? You should not be forced to build a wall that does not meet your requirements.
Tips for Creating a Separate Room
Here are some tips for creating a separate room in a Flex apartment.
As mentioned previously, the pressurized walls are not allowed in some places to separate rooms in flex apartments. An alternative is to install a temporary wall known as the shoji walls.
Shoji walls are a convenient albeit costly alternative to pressurized walls. The wall allows you to separate rooms without violating fire building codes or co-op rules.
The term shoji is a Japanese word that can be translated as a tool to obstruct. In architectural nomenclature, shoji is used to refer to a wall composed of translucent paper, laminate, and paper-like acrylic coverings.
Shoji wall frames are made of bamboo or wood. The walls can be installed as free-standing, sliding, a combination of these two styles. The original shoji walls are made of paper.
But since the material is fragile and prone to break, most suppliers use laminate or acrylic covering. These frames might not be hard as a concrete wall but they are also not as fragile as paper covering.
The benefit of installing shoji walls apart from getting around building fire codes and rules is that they offer more privacy compared to curtains and are less obtrusive than solid walls and doors.
Since shoji walls are made of non-porous constructions, they can be painted on directly without applying a primer. The lattice can be worked out to create beautiful patterns.
You can adorn the walls with whatever you like such as blooming flowers, majestic mountains, or other natural sceneries.
While shoji walls are not soundproof, you can install soundproof materials to block out sound from the other side.
Curtains are yet another material that you can install in a flex apartment. The curtains can create privacy and also add a pleasant accent to the room.
You can install curtains made of any fabric that you like as a room divider. A lightweight fabric such as silk, cotton, or lace is recommended to separate rooms if privacy is not a concern.
These fabrics will allow maximum light from the windows.
If privacy is a priority, you should select a heavier fabric like suede, velvet, or canvas. Embroidered heavy fabrics can add visual interest while maintaining privacy between the rooms.
Another advice when selecting curtains is that the curtains should be about three times the width of the rod or track.
This will create a billowing effect when your curtains are open or closed. Here are some other tips when installing curtains as a divider for flex rooms.
- Hang neutral color curtains if you don’t want attention to the separate room
- Bold color curtains with elegant patterns are recommended for drawing attention
- Fringe curtains that lit up are great for modern design homes
- Create a monochromatic space with white or grey fabric for keeping the bedroom private
- Glass partition with curtains can complement minimalist décor while providing more privacy
A shelf unit can also separate the flex rooms. They can also provide significant privacy depending on the size of the unit.
You can stock the shelf with anything such as décor, frames, books, and plants. Anything that will bring a smile to your face will do enough to close the gaps and fill the shelves.
Adding a shelf unit has the benefit over other options in that it not only separates the rooms but also adds some storage space.
You can put your impressive collection of CDs or books on the shelf. There is nothing better than to curl up and watch your favorite movie or read a book within the privacy of bed.
Flex Room Design Ideas
Here are some room ideas for your flex apartment:
A great idea for the flex room is to turn it into a fitness area. The room should have space for a weight rack, bench, and an exercise machine.
A treadmill is also a good option if it is a large room. If the room is not large enough, you can reserve the room for doing light exercises with just a mat.
You can customize the fitness room by adding TV screens, a water-cooler, and mirrors. Moreover, bright colors and good lighting are important for the fitness room.
A separate entertainment room is also a great idea for the flex room. You don’t need a large room for this option. If you have a space of about 6 feet from the wall, it can serve well as an entertainment area.
Ambient light and dark walls are important for a pleasant viewing experience. You should also add a couch and two sofa seats in the entertainment room.
Kid’s Play Area
Do you have kids in the apartment? Consider creating a kid’s playing area by adding a divider. This will keep everyday mess of books and toys contained in one room.
You have infinite customization options for designing the kid’s playroom. One such idea is to reserve one of the walls as space for your creative kids to draw and color.
With the popularity of digital entertainment such as video games and movies, many people are losing interest in books.
But if you are one of those lucky few who have maintained the healthy habit of reading, you should consider repurposing an existing apartment room into a reading room.
A shelf unit is an ideal choice for a divider. You should also put tables, a sofa, and, a table lamp in the reading room to create the mood.
If you don’t like dressing in the bedroom or bathroom, you should consider creating a separate dressing room.
You can repurpose one of the rooms for storing your clothes and getting dressed.
The room should have a full-length mirror and bright lighting. Additionally, the room should have enough space to put the clothes cabinet.
Final Remarks about Flex Apartments
Flex apartments provide the flexibility of design your own space.
The apartment also has the advantage in that the rents are generally lower as compared to a traditional apartment with a similar number of rooms.
But you should account for the cost of installing a divider for separating rooms. You may have to spend anywhere between a few hundred dollars to up to $5000 for installing a divider.
Make sure that you do your calculations before renting a flex apartment. You should know about the permit before you sign the rental agreement for a flex apartment.
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