Daydreamer Mezzanine at Sweetwater

Set Design at Sweetwater: Creating Main Character Moments  

There’s been a lot of talk lately about “Main Character Energy.” You know what it is even if you’ve never used the term: it’s that feeling when you hear your own theme music in your head while you’re checking your mail, or where you strut with Margot-Robbie-on-the-red-carpet levels of confidence as you collect your Daydreamer coffee, or dawning your best designer duds to head to your dreaded 9 am. It’s running through everyday moments like the script-writers have a very special day in store for you, even if it’s just doing math homework.

Scene Stealer

At Sweetwater, residents rock Main Character Energy every day, and it’s not by accident. Sweetwater’s spaces were carefully curated and intentionally designed to make each space feel like residents are in a movie scene.

Fireplaces crackle and the smell of freshly brewed espresso wafts through the air, while a meticulously crafted playlist hums throughout the property, the perfect soundtrack for a student’s life. It’s the smells and sounds that set the scene at Sweetwater, and it’s the design that steals it.

Simply step inside the Sweetwater lobby, and you’ll feel the magic. Sweetwater’s spaces feel like stepping on to the set of Marvelous Mrs. Maisel meets Legally Blonde, a tasteful blend of nostalgic art deco moments juxtaposed with textural modernism and, of course, Sweetwater’s signature pop of pink.

Sweetwater’s Daydreamer cafe is the centerpiece of the first floor, wowing guests on first impression with its grand art deco brass screen anchoring the coffee bar and inviting them in with cozy seating areas tucked throughout the cafe.

The nostalgic design moments are punctuated with sprinkles of modern whimsey like terrazzo tile at the base of the coffee bar and punchy decorative tiles spark fun and bring a youthful feel to the space.


Sweetwater daydreamer counter
Sweetwater Daydreamer

The Meet-Cute

Sweetwater’s spaces are straight out of a romantic comedy, and no space is left untouched, be it the mail room or even the bathrooms which each have their own unique design scheme.

Understanding students’ need for study spaces, designers prioritized spaces for every type of study, including private nooks; lavish, bespoke banquettes and booths for group study; flex meeting spaces; and private meeting rooms. There is no rinse and repeat, meaning residents can study in a new environment each day surrounded with new inspiration.

Spaces are private, but mixed in with the public, so you can feel like you’re tucked away in your own private space while still having the opportunity to lock eyes with that dreamy stranger across the room.

Fireplace room Sweetwater
Sweetwater's lobby welcomes you in, blending nostalgic art deco moments with textural modernism and pops of pink.
Sweetwater Coworking Space Study
Each study room at Sweetwater has a unique design; no rinse and repeat
Girls Walking down the Stairs at Sweetwater
Sweetwater's lobby and mezzanine are connected by a grand staircase.
Sweetwater Clubroom Pink Tile
Pink zellige-style tiles, gold accents and lush plants line the Sweetwater club room.
From private nooks to booths and meeting rooms, Sweetwater's designers prioritized spaces for every type of study.
From private nooks to booths and meeting rooms, Sweetwater's designers prioritized spaces for every type of study.
Collaboration table in the study mezzanine at Sweetwater
Marble fireplace surrounds and vintage rugs add elegance to the space.
Fireplace room Sweetwater
Sweetwater Coworking Space Study
Girls Walking down the Stairs at Sweetwater
Sweetwater Clubroom Pink Tile
From private nooks to booths and meeting rooms, Sweetwater's designers prioritized spaces for every type of study.
Collaboration table in the study mezzanine at Sweetwater


One of the primary challenges for interior designers was how to break up the first-floor space that, due to the nature of the building, was one very long room. Designers used large sweeping arches to create a series of rooms, breaking up the space while bringing architectural movement to the design. This offers a sense of familiarity as you traverse through the lobby, introducing distinct areas that provide moments of pause throughout the large space to take in the design.

Additionally, custom deco architectural brass screens and partitions were used in the coffee shop and mail room to create a “room within a room,” bringing the large volumes down to human scale and inviting residents to find their place.

Sweetwater Aerial View Activated
Collaboration table in the study mezzanine at Sweetwater

18 Going on 30  

Rather than playing into school colors that meet students where they are at in life and that they’re already surrounded with each day on campus, Sweetwater radiates an elevated design experience, giving students a sense of what it’s like to live life beyond college and inviting them into the young professional lifestyle they aspire to live.

Sweetwater features elegant details more likely to be found in boutique hotels than student housing projects, such as marble fireplace surrounds, vintage rugs and custom art deco railings. Designers leaned into custom over cookie cutter, with specially-designed upholstery and quartzite countertops in the study booths in Daydreamer. Hand-painted wallcoverings in the clubroom and elevators also bring a bespoke touch.

The project disrupts the idea of traditional student housing with unexpected moments around every corner. Sweetwater delights with touches like whimsical wallpaper in the leasing office and punchy restroom designs that are unique to each space and never repeated throughout the building.

girl reading a book on Sweetwater study floor
Sweetwater Lobby Birds Eye
Sweetwater cowork / study
Sweetwater Lobby Arches
girls taking a selfie in the mirror at Sweetwater
Sweetwater Club Room to Pool

At Sweetwater, We Wear Pink

Sweetwater’s art deco style and South Florida color palette were intentionally brought into the property’s branding, creating a theme that feels authentic, brings a realness, and gives a nod to other Florida destinations.

The graphic designer behind the Sweetwater brand, who was, at the time, a sophomore at the University of Florida, was inspired by the interior design and drew on that to craft a brand that would resonate with renters.

A tone on tone color palette was crafted using paint chips from the project’s interior design team. The arches in the S and Ws of the Sweetwater logo were designed to mirror the arches present in study booths, mirrors, alcoves and other design moments within the property. And hand-drawn patterns inspired by wallcoverings in the project were incorporated as playful accents.

The intentionality and collaboration between the interior and graphic designers helped create important brand recognition that ties together Sweetwater’s in-person and online personas.

LV Awards-Sweetwater Interior Design-Web Graphic

Blockbuster Success  

The project delivered in September 2023, and residents were thrilled with the look and feel of the building, as evidenced by the 55% renewal rate.

Its elevated design and intentional curation is what differentiates Sweetwater from its Gainesville student housing competitors. It’s a key reason that in its first two weeks of opening, the property had hundreds of students dropping by “just to get a peek” at the stunning design they’d been hearing about from their friends. It’s also why the property delivered at 97% pre-leased and hit 87% pre-leased within weeks of opening leasing for year two. As of February 1, Sweetwater is leased at 90% while the average market prelease is 47%.

With all due respect to the supporting actors, Sweetwater is for heavy hitters only.

Sweetwater Clubroom Pink Tile
Sweetwater Club room to bar
daydreamer seating area reality

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