Balancing Home Aesthetics and Functionality: Interior Design Trends In Multi-Family Houses

Multi-family homes are the backbone of great Chicago communities. When families live in well-built, beautiful housing, they thrive.

Residents emphasize safety, welcome, and peace in highly-rated spaces. These are all terms families have used to describe The Oaks at Willow Hill. The Justice, Illinois complex is a residential space we’re proud of

Yet, the average person doesn’t necessarily connect the dots from their positive experience to specific layouts, aesthetics, and features. It’s one thing to love where you live; it’s another to put your finger on *why*.

When it comes to the quality of a resident’s life in a space, aesthetic interior design choices matter. But how do the pros know what works? 

And what aesthetic trends are on the horizon for families in 2024?

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What Are Multi-Family Houses? 

The National Association of Home Builders identifies six multi-family home categories:

  • Condominiums
  • Apartment Complexes
  • Mixed-use buildings (which combine commercial and residential spaces)
  • Student Housing
  • 55+ spaces
  • Low-income or HUD-subsidized housing

We also include duplexes, townhomes, and communal housing. Almost 75% of Chicagoans live in multi-family homes!

Functional Layout: Complexes, Duplexes and Townhomes

Multi-family homes serve multiple functions. These include:

  • Safe shelter for a large volume of people in a limited space
  • Privacy and security for all residents
  • Easy for people in diverse age groups to navigate, feel safe in
  • Efficient, safe distribution of utilities and resources 
  • Enhance and protect physical and mental well-being

“Form follows function” is the Golden Rule of design. In multi-family homes, aesthetics must serve or enhance these functions.

Home Aesthetics, Defined

Aesthetics are philosophies of beauty. Different aesthetics hew to different core principles. Each aesthetic draws out something beautiful. 

Historically, aesthetics describe art. They also shape how people perceive, think, and feel about art. 

Today, different aesthetic modes offer sets of principles for all kinds of experiences. A study in Frontiers in Psychology showed people perceive a product to be more valuable when designed according to aesthetic principles. This is true even if it functions identically to a product designed without any beautiful intent.

Home aesthetics are rules and guidelines to evoke certain feelings or thoughts through exterior and interior design.

Function vs Aesthetics In Interior Design

Function is neutral with regard to beauty, pleasure, or peace. The right aesthetics elevate a functional object to a work of art. 

However, it is unwise to make design choices driven solely by beauty. A few years ago, “vessel sinks” were popular in luxury bathrooms and kitchens. These raised bowls provided a striking contrast to otherwise boxy designs.

 But, their curves and elevation often splashed running water on users. And they were notoriously hard to clean. Despite their eye-catching look, they were less functional than normal sinks.

Our 12-step process reflects the need to balance both. 

Multi-Family House and Home Design Trends of 2024

Many of the most popular interior design trends cultivate mental well-being and positive moods. 

Among the top trends for multi-family homes, personal space, adaptive rooms, and bold colors create popular scenes. Trend forecasters also predict we’ll bring our love of nature home this year. 

  • Biophilia: Nature Aesthetics With Functional Layout

The “nature” aesthetic is everywhere in 2024. People experience physical and mental health benefits when spending time outdoors. Why not carry that into the place you live?

This home aesthetic trend highlights the beauty of rich wood, stone, bamboo, and other natural furnishings and materials. Indoor plants are key. Natural light through skylights or picture windows cultivates the right aura.

Neutrals are shades of brown, warm dusty pinks, whites, and greens. No black or chrome. 

In one recent office building project, finished mahogany tables contrast elegantly with the rougher industrial-style wood of the ceiling. The living moss artwork is a perfect accent, harmonizing the space.

  • Adaptable Home Aesthetics: Layered Lighting, Curtains, Tapestries

In the battle of function vs. aesthetics, layering is a win-win solution. Layering is a perfect trend in multi-family housing. It empowers each resident to shape their experience of a room to their own liking.

Layered wall hangings and tapestries allow for diverse textures and imagery in a single piece of decor. Tapestries also dampen sound, increasing residents’ privacy from neighbors opposite their walls. 

Likewise, layered lighting incorporates multiple small, independent lights throughout a room. In trendy kitchens, there’s no large, central ceiling light. Instead, multiple hanging lights and track lighting enable precise adaptation.

A person can choose the vibrancy, direction, and even the color of the lighting. They just turn on only the lights they want to use.

Installing lamps of different heights is another popular tactic.

house and home design

  • Discrete Smart Tech Resolves Function vs. Aesthetics Conflict

Gone are ostentatious “smart” appliances. Today’s internet-connected home features are discrete. They’re manufactured in a wide range of colors, materials, and styles to blend in with almost any aesthetic.

Your automated thermostat shouldn’t make you feel like you’re in the matrix.

  • Trending Textures: Add Character to Any House and Home Design

No trend is talked about as much as textures. This year, interior design textures, like fluting, have garnered some controversy. At their best, they elevate a typical table leg by emulating a Roman column. At worst, they become distracting.

Textures also enable tactile motifs. Motifs are recurring elements that create unity among different rooms in a space. Choices like soft wool finishes on walls make each room feel connected without over-relying on visuals.

  • Bold Decor With “Dynamism, Personality” Elevates Traditional Home Aesthetics

People are ready to saturate their rooms in color. Pops of accent color are out. Bold colors, metallic accents, and quirky prints are filling the walls.

New Art Deco and vintage revival use color to put a new spin on classic designs.

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Build Beautiful, Useful Spaces With ETI

At ETI, we know home is more than a place to hang your hat. Multi-family homes are places where generations of Chicagoans can grow and thrive.

No matter what home aesthetics speak to you, we can bring your vision to life. 

Have a construction, renovation, or remodeling project in mind? Connect with us by email at Or, give us a call: 773-299-6574. 

We’re proud to serve Chicago and the greater Chicagoland area.