The Evolution of Apartment Styles

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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If you’re like most people, you probably think of apartment styles as being modern and sleek. However, apartment styles have come a long way and continue to evolve. This article will look at the evolution of apartment styles, from townhouses to contemporary apartments.

We’ll also discuss the benefits of each style and how they can fit into your lifestyle. So whether you’re looking for a new place to call home or are just curious about apartment trends, read on.

The Evolution of Apartment Styles

1. Ancient Apartment Styles: Townhouses

The first apartment style that we’ll discuss is the townhouse. Townhouses were initially developed in Europe during the Middle Ages. They were typically two or three stories tall and made of brick or stone. The ground floor was usually reserved for businesses, while the upper floors were used for living quarters.

Ancient Apartment Styles

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Townhouses became popular in America during the 18th and 19th centuries. They were often built in urban areas and served as homes for affluent families. Today, townhouses are still prevalent in many cities around the world. They offer a unique blend of old-world charm and modern amenities.

Another ancient apartment style is the row house. Row houses are similar to townhouses, but they are usually attached side-by-side. They were first developed in England during the 17th century and later became popular in America. Row houses are typical in many cities, especially on the East Coast.

Like townhouses, row houses offer a unique blend of old-world charm and modern amenities. They are also typically more affordable than townhouses. A row house is an excellent option if you’re looking for a classic apartment style with some history.

2. Apartment Styles Before the 19th Century: Courtyard Houses

Before the 19th century, townhouses continued to evolve in style and structure. Townhouses were popular among the upper class because they provided privacy and security.

Apartment Styles Before the 19th Century

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Today, townhouses are still popular for those who want a luxurious home. They often include features such as private courtyards, balconies, and gardens. A courtyard house is an excellent option if you’re looking for an apartment with some history.

3. Apartment Styles in the 19th Century: Victorian Apartments

The next apartment style that we will discuss is the Victorian apartment. These apartments were developed in the 19th century, and they are characterized by their ornate features. Victorian apartments often included high ceilings, large windows, and fireplaces.

Apartment Styles in the 19th Century

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These apartments were designed for those who wanted to live in luxury. They remain a popular choice for those who want a luxurious home. A Victorian apartment is an excellent option if you’re looking for an apartment with classic charm.

4. Apartment Styles in the Early 1900s: Art Deco Apartments

The next apartment style on the timeline is the Art Deco apartment. These apartments were developed in the early 1900s and characterized by their geometric shapes and patterns. Art Deco apartments often included bold colors and sleek lines.

Apartment Styles in the Early 1900s

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These apartments were designed for those who wanted to live in a modern home and continue to be a popular choice for those who want a contemporary home. If you’re looking for an apartment with a unique design, an Art Deco apartment is a great option.

5. The Rise of Mid-Century Modern Apartment Styles: Brutalist Apartments

The next apartment style of interest is the Mid-Century Modern apartment. These apartments were developed in the mid-1900s and characterized by their clean lines and simple designs. Mid-Century Modern-style apartments often included minimal furnishings and muted colors.

6. The Rise of Open Floor Plans in the 1950s: Split-Level Homes

The next apartment style we will discuss is the open floor plan apartment. These apartments were developed in the 1950s, characterized by their large open spaces. Open-floor plan apartments often included minimal furnishings and plenty of natural light.

Open Floor Plan

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If you’re looking for an apartment with a modern design, then an open-floor plan apartment is a great option.

Apartment Decorating Styles

1. Modern Farmhouse Style

Modern farmhouse is a growing trend in an interior design style that combines traditional and rustic elements of a classic farmhouse with modern design’s simplicity and clean lines. It’s a style that’s both warm and welcoming, emphasizing functionality and comfort while also incorporating modern touches.

Modern Farmhouse Style

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As the name implies, it draws its inspiration from rustic country houses with vaulted ceilings, wood accents, roofs, and a lot of windows. Nonetheless, the modern farmhouse design adds a contemporary element with sophisticated touches such as neutral colors and smooth lines. Other essential components include reclaimed wood, wrought iron, sliding barn doors to divide rooms, and antique furniture.

Planked floors also improve the rustic atmosphere. This style works best in an apartment with plenty of tall windows, clean white walls, and a lofty ceiling. From there, you can incorporate the other design features.

2. Bohemian Style

The bohemian style, also known as boho or boho chic, is characterized by its mix of textures, patterns, and colors to create a cozy and inviting atmosphere. Besides, a bohemian style usually has vintage furniture, vibrant textiles, and plants. In Bohemia’s free-thinking, non-conformist spirit, its namesake style combines components from several artistic traditions. As a result, there are many different ways of expressing oneself.

Bohemian Style

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Bright and bold colors, patterns, and lavishly painted walls and furnishings are encouraged. Although a varied color palette is encouraged, the different shades and materials should complement one another. Besides, plants and warm, natural materials, such as wall hangings and woven furniture, also appear often.

The more eccentric the décor and furniture are, the better. Everything from random thrift shop finds to souvenirs from global travels adds to the unconventional vibe. The most important aspect of the bohemian style is that you can make it your own.

3. Scandinavian Style

The Scandinavian style is minimalism and has become one of the most notable interior design trends in recent years. As the name implies, it originated in Scandinavian nations such as Norway and Sweden. Then, the popularity of IKEA and comfortable Scandinavian cultural standards like “hygge” aided in establishing this scaled-back and friendly aesthetic in American homes.

Scandinavian Style

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Natural materials such as tan woods are key components of the Scandinavian style, along with white or light-colored walls, clean lines, and enough natural light. Also, functional furniture and a bit of clutter help a tiny space feel open and airy. This style would suit an apartment with natural light, white walls, and warm wooden accents.

4. Eclectic Style

An eclectic style is ideal for a renter with diverse interests and passions who wants an interior style that reflects that diversity. An eclectic design reflects diverse interests, from its vivid colors to its walls covering gallery-style layouts of prints and paintings.

Eclectic Style

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Furthermore, like its more restrained siblings, eclectic design generally begins with a neutral or light color palette. This is then contrasted by colorful decor and furniture. Though filling the room with a lot of décor and furniture is recommended, the layout is crucial to keeping the space well-organized and planned rather than cluttered. Besides, using eccentric décor, such as vintage pieces, reinforces the “eclectic” message.

5. Art Deco Style

Art Deco is a visual arts and design style that originated in the 1920s and 1930s. This apartment style is characterized by its bright colors, geometric shapes, and bold symmetrical designs. It was influenced by several sources, including the early 20th-century avant-garde movements, the exoticism of ancient cultures, and the industrial age’s technical advancements.

Art Deco Style

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Along with vintage, era-appropriate pieces, you can replicate this style in your apartment by using synthetic rather than natural materials, such as polished metals, massive furniture with sharp edges, and carefully selecting décor with an element of glamour.

6. Shabby Chic Style

The 1980s saw the beginning of the Shabby Chic style, which grew in popularity in the 1990s. It’s a romantic and feminine apartment style that combines soft, muted hues and distressed finishes with vintage, cottage, and antique aesthetics.

Shabby Chic Style

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Its warm, rustic ambiance reflects a country lodge’s romanticism with its soft textures, vintage furniture, neutral colors, and a touch of luxury, such as hanging chandeliers. On the other hand, using elegant, antique furniture and fine decor elevates the style into modernity. In a shabby chic apartment, you will likely find distressed paint, plenty of natural light, and cozy materials such as linen and wood.

7. Industrial Style

The raw, gritty, and practical look of industrial spaces like warehouses, factories, and workshops inspires this apartment style. It prioritizes functionality, simplicity, and practicality over ornamentation, luxury, and comfort.

Industrial Style

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The main features of the industrial style include:

  • Concrete or metal walls, exposed brick, ducts, pipes, and beams.
  • High ceilings.
  • Large, open spaces.
  • A neutral color scheme dominated by shades of white, gray, black, and brown.

Like most contemporary styles, the industrial apartment style has tall windows, open spaces, and clean lines. Other colors and materials that may appear often include iron, metal, and reclaimed wood.

8. Coastal Style

The natural elements and colors along the oceans, seas, and lakeshores inspire coastal style. It attempts to provide a calm and unwinding atmosphere that captures the beauty and serenity of the sea.

Coastal Style

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The primary features of the coastal apartment style are a light and airy feel and a color scheme that includes shades of blue, white, green, and sand. Natural materials like wood, rattan, linen, wicker, and decorative materials such as coral, driftwood, and seashells are often used.

However, it would be best to differentiate a coastal aesthetic from a tacky nautical vibe. Since some beaches have black sand, adding this accent will make the neutral colors of the coastal style pop. Jute-braided ottomans, watercolors, blue-green glass vases, driftwood, wicker trays, and artisan pottery may all be used to decorate your room.

Accent your own space with jute-braided ottomans, wicker trays, artisan ceramics, watercolors, driftwood, and blue-green glass vases.

Which Apartment Style Is Best?

Now that you know the available apartment styles, you may wonder which one is best for you. The answer to this question depends on your personal preferences. If you’re looking for an apartment with a bit of history, a townhouse or row house is a great option. A Victorian apartment is an excellent option if you’re looking for an apartment with classic charm.

If you’re looking for an apartment with a unique design, an Art Deco apartment is a great option. If you’re looking for an apartment with a modern design, then an open-floor-plan apartment is a great option.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Apartment Styles

Choosing apartment styles can be a challenging task. Here are some factors to consider before choosing an apartment’s interior style:

Choosing Apartment Styles

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1. Personal Style

While designing your apartment, prioritize your style. Choose a style that reflects your personality and makes you feel comfortable. Are you looking for an apartment with a bit of history? Or are you looking for an apartment with a modern design? Once you decide your priorities, you can start narrowing down your options.

2. Apartment Layout and Architecture

The architecture and layout of your apartment can impact the interior design style you choose. Keep in mind that your chosen style should complement the apartment’s features and improve its aesthetic appeal.

3. Natural Lighting

Natural light can significantly affect the overall aesthetic and feel of your apartment. Therefore, consider how much natural light gets into your apartment and choose a design that allows the light to flow through the space. You might consider sheer window treatments, light-colored furniture, or light-colored walls to maximize the light.

4. Functionality

The interior design of your apartment should be practical and functional for your everyday activities. Think about how you use your living area, then choose furniture and accents that meet your requirements. For instance, if you work from home, you might need a defined workspace.

5. Storage Space

Storage space is essential in an apartment, especially if space is limited. Therefore, consider the storage options in the style you choose, such as multi-functional furniture pieces, built-in storage, or hidden storage solutions.

6. Flexibility

When choosing an interior apartment style, pay attention to flexibility. You might need to move furniture or make other changes to adapt to changes in your life or living situation. Imagine a design that can easily accommodate different furniture arrangements or space layouts.

7. Budget

Budget usually plays a significant role in determining the apartment style you can afford. That said, you need to choose a style that matches your budget, considering the cost of decor, furniture, and any home improvements that might be required.

Apartment Styles

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Do some research and take some time to explore the different available apartment styles. Consider what each style offers, and visit some apartments in person before making your final decision.

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Frequently Asked Questions on the Apartment Styles

1. What is a modern-style apartment?

A modern-style apartment is a living space with sleek and contemporary-design furnishings. These modern-style apartments usually have clean lines, a minimalist aesthetic, and an emphasis on efficiency and functionality. Some standard features of these modern-style apartments include open floor plans that blend the living room, dining room, and kitchen space to create a spacious living environment. These apartments often feature large windows that allow in enough natural light. Also, a modern-style apartment usually has a minimalist aesthetic, with neutral color palettes, clean lines, and simple, unadorned furnishings.

2. How do you style a plain apartment?

Decorating a plain apartment can be a great way to exercise your imagination. Here are a few pointers to get you rolling:

Pick a color scheme you like and use it as the foundation for the rest of your design. Choosing a white or beige wall and accenting it with colorful cushions and paintings is one easy way to get this effect. Then add texture to help warm up a space that otherwise can appear cold and sterile.

Make a statement with a striking piece of art or a one-of-a-kind piece of furniture to add personality and visual interest to a plain apartment. Moreover, you can add greenery to the apartment to help bring life and warmth to the space.

3. How do I design an apartment layout?

Designing an apartment layout can be a creative and fulfilling experience. Here are some steps for getting started:

Think about what you’ll need and how you’ll live in the space before designing the layout. Then, take accurate measurements of your flat and create a floor plan, either manually on paper or with the help of a design program.

Divide your apartment into functional layouts. For instance, divide your home into a “living” area, a “dining” area, and a “bedroom” zone. Once you have your zones, you can consider the placement of your furniture pieces.

4. How can I make my apartment look stylish?

You don’t have to spend much time or money making your apartment look stylish. Here are some tips to help you spruce up your flat.

Choose a color scheme to make your apartment look more put-together and professional. Invest in statement pieces such as artwork or a stylish rug to add personality and visual interest to your apartment.

To give your apartment more depth and warmth:

  • Try using a variety of textures.
  • Create a warm and welcoming space with the help of plush blankets, textured cushions, and woven baskets.
  • Use lighting to set your apartment’s mood, look, and feel.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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