Now that millennials are getting into the housing market in larger numbers, companies are hitting gold with home products that reinforce their self-perceptions as a savvy, eco-conscious generation.
Read more: Millennials Spur Micro-Apartment Boom
Not since the 1970S—back when baby boomers were derided as the “me generation”—have home-product entrepreneurs had a generation that was so eager to find features that reflect their unique worldview.
Here are six home features that will make your millennial clients go “OMG!”
1. Real estate pros are often confronted with staging bookshelves for a generation that doesn’t have much affinity for printed material. Millennial marketing specialist Lisa Frank suggests turning digital photo frames into a gif library. “It’s a common criticism that millennials don’t read, but let’s be fair. They still want to show off their cultural literacy, which is what bookshelves are all about,” says Frank. “These gif displays allow them to pick and choose their favorite memes and switch it up so they don’t risk being perceived as out of touch.”
2. Thanks to a love of the retro and a desire for open spaces, millennials are reviving interest in dome homes. Originally invented by Buckminster Fuller in the late 1940s, the geodesic dome offers an almost 100 percent open layout and an eco-friendly footprint. “Millennials want to express their open relationship with the planet through the unique design of the dome home,” says Chris Novoselic, a dome-home architect based in the Seattle area. “These fun, quirky homes combine that desire with the nostalgia for pop-culture references such as the mid-90s cult-classic, Bio-Dome.”
3. Remember when Dad used to follow you around, chiding you for forgetting to turn off the lights as you exited a room? A new invention from smart-home product manufacturer Kardashi Corp. is looking to solve that problem with a stylish twist millennials will love. Virality Lighting Air is an automated home system that uses smart watches to track occupants, turning on and off lights and managing heating/cooling as they move around the home. As an added bonus, the company says their lighting system is specifically designed to make users look great in selfies and videos. “The number of Snapchat views I’m getting like, literally doubled, and my energy bill is something like half,” says fashion blogger and YouTube star Cherilyn Horowitz. “It’s so sick.”
4. It seems everywhere you turn there’s an article decrying millennial work styles (and the inevitable snarky reply from millennial employees). If the solution ends up being more work-from-home hours, your younger clients will need space for that. But they aren’t looking for the home office of their parents’ generation, according to generational workplace productivity expert Bill Lumbergh. “They want to avoid speaking with their gen X and baby boomer colleagues, but they want to be comfortable while doing so,” Lumbergh says. His solution is a recreational home office/nap room, inspired by tech companies that boost productivity by giving workers a place to unwind mid-shift, including foosball tables and nap pods. Asked why their own bedrooms and living rooms couldn’t serve the same function, Lumbergh explains, “If they see cool companies like Google doing it on their campuses, millennials are going to want it in their homes.”
5. Millennials’ DIY culture combined with a desire for clean eating is what launched The Fermentator from crazy Kickstarter project to the artisanal cooking gadget gracing many a kitchen counter. The inventors at Skynet hit all the right notes when they created a machine that allows consumers to pickle their own veggies, make cheese and yogurt, and brew beer and kombucha, all in one. “It really makes the probiotic movement more accessible to home cooks,” says demographic nutritionalist Sarah Connor. Skynet promises the next generation of the Fermentator will include a greenhouse on top, ideal for growing “herbs.”
6. With the recession’s end, many millennials are moving straight from their parents’ basement to their first foray into home ownership. While dish duty is a real chore for anyone who’s relied on Mom’s help for a little too long, disposables are much too wasteful for this environmentally conscious age group. That’s what inspired home goods manufacturer Drescher, Inc. to create The Nanny, a garbage incinerator that turns recyclables into new dishware that users can toss right back in when dinner’s over. The high-heat fusing process incinerates all food waste, and reformulates glass, plastic, and metal into funky, one-of-a-kind plates, cups, and flatware.
Editor’s note: We’d like to take this moment to wish you a unique, artisanal, eco-friendly April Fool’s Day, whether you’re a boomer, millennial, or gen-xer. Hope you had as much fun reading this piece as we did inventing it!