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What Is A “Third Place” — & How Can Your Raleigh Commercial Interior Design Firm Help You Nail It?

When you hear “third place,” your mind might jump to the Olympics, or, say, your elementary school spelling bee. But what if the term actually held the key to creating a successful multifamily or off-campus community people want to call home?

Sociology professor Ray Oldenburg coined the concept of a third place in 1989 — defining it as a place that isn’t home (the first place) or work (the second place) but is a “neutral ground” that promotes conversation as the main pastime. Other activities are more than welcome in these kinds of spaces, though — like sharing food, or playing games with friends!

The third place could be somewhere like a coffee shop or park — a place that’s easy to access and convene in, with a laidback, friendly atmosphere. (Now, you’re starting to realize why so many of your favorite sitcom friend groups regularly gather in a café, bar, or diner, right?)

While the concept of a third place has existed for more than three decades, it makes sense why you might be hearing more about it these days. With countless people working or studying from home over the past few years — and many of those remote arrangements continuing on a permanent or hybrid basis — many may feel like they’ve lost the built-in reason to visit their preferred third place, as they aren’t leaving home as often.

​But there is an upside. If you are opening or remodeling a multifamily community or off-campus student complex, you have the unique opportunity of crafting a third place for your future residents! From amenity-packed community clubhouses, to vibrant outdoor gathering areas, third places don’t just serve as attractive perks for potential renters — they actively improve society, too.

So, what might go into a third place in your multifamily or student community? Here are just a few potential options to consider.

Comfy Sofas & Community Seating
From overstuffed sofas to breezy, resort-style hammocks, your third place — whether it be inside, outside, or both — should be appointed with fun, stylish furniture that invites residents to kick back and relax! As residents tour the property before potentially moving in, these features will prove that your multifamily community is just that — a community! — and not just a complex of individual apartments, where renters are limited to the amenities they have in their specific unit.

Let’s face it — we’re all kids at heart. Your third place is the perfect opportunity to give residents a chance to unwind and have some fun. This might mean anything from a movie theater, to a gaming room, to ping-pong table… you name it!

Welcoming Lighting
You’ve probably heard the expression about “leaving a light on” — aka, letting your loved ones know that you’re home and available to see them! The same idea applies to the community clubhouse. During operating hours, the right lighting can beckon residents in as they pass by or even get their mail — turning a seemingly mundane around-the-house errand into an opportunity for friends and laughter.

Signs Of Life
To give your third place that welcoming, lived-in quality even after the lease-up period, consider incorporating elements like houseplants, a community bulletin board, magazines, board games, and other small but impactful touches that remind residents: life is happening here, and you can be a part of it!

You can’t go wrong with a classic, cozy fireplace — or, outside, fire pit — to create a familiar vibe in your community clubhouse!

Layout, Layout, Layout
In real estate, they say that “location, location, location” is the most important factor — and while that definitely holds true in our experience, we’d also argue that “layout, layout, layout” is equally important when it comes to crafting a third place. As much as a community gathering space should be about big, welcoming furniture, it should also be arranged in a way that invites people to stop in and say “hi” to a friend, or to plop down for a conversation around a perfectly crafted seating nook.

Many otherwise lovely community clubhouses may inadvertently steer residents away from the so-called third place, simply due to awkwardly arranged furniture or other barriers (like the living space being tucked away at the end of a long hallway). Fortunately, Mood doesn’t just deal with staging your space with beautiful furniture — we also help you chart out the perfect floorplan for your unique property! One that effortlessly fosters that sense of belonging.

​We hope that these ideas help you realize the power of a third place in your one-of-a-kind community. Now that you understand the importance — and opportunity! — of such a space, let Mood Interior Designs help you craft it. Our turnkey team of passionate design professionals can guide you through every step of the process, from conducting research on the most popular amenities in your area, to taking care of FF&E ourselves! Just contact us today to learn more.