Brenda Brady Design LLC
By 2030 the number of United States adults age 50 and older will grow to 132 million. This is up 70% from 2000!!!! This rise is due to the massive baby boomer generation climbing in age AND a greater longevity among older Americans.
Younger boomers who are now in their 50's are of special concern, since they are less financially secure than generations past - Thanks in part to the Great Recession.
More affordable, and suitable rental housing is needed to address the needs of the aging population. Communities need to explore efficient ways to support aging Americans. Services also include transportation systems and rezoning for accommodation of residents who may want to downsize but stay in their town.
We need to address our future senior housing needs!
Trends in Multi Family Housing
Demand for apartment rentals was up 21% in 2012 according to an ASID report. Rental market is high in demand and will continue for the next 5-10 years.
Several points of interest in this market are:
Our growing priority of interior design in healthcare and senior living facilities it to create comfortable environments. They feel more home like than institutional.
I use color for way finding in all of my senior facilities. It is so much easier ( for any of us!) to find a location by associating a color. For example, first floor is blue accent paint, blue furniture in the living room, blue paint on the stairwell door wall. This alerts you to the floor you are on and it is also convenient for guests.
Another good use of color is to make transitions in hallways - from one part of the clinic to another or from assisted living to healthcare.
Finally my favorite way to use color in senior facilities is in the restrooms. Who doesn't want to look at a splash of color in their public restrooms? Too often they are boring white or beige.
Have fun with color - and know that seniors like color too!
In the past an Assisted Living unit was a very small apartment with no kitchen/dining and a tiny living area and bedroom/ bathroom. In a recent Assisted living project that we completed, the kitchen was good sized with a microwave, sink and refrigerator.(see attached photo) Not unlike some very small senior living apartments! The only thing missing is a stove / oven!
It will become harder to draw lines between assisted and independent as we move forward. Therefore, our interior designs should be flexible in what a tenant of assisted living can do. Perhaps the living and dining room area should be larger so that they can entertain. Maybe there should be more privacy in the bedroom vs. the living room. Will buildings that were built 10 years ago need to revisit and remodel their units for seniors?
Acuity needs will have to be addressed for each individual and perhaps there will be a new standard of assisted living in the very near future!
Last week I attended a CEU on Global Trend Forecast 2013 by Antron fibers. There are four categories that describe the trends of color.
1. Echo Blur: Contemporary neutrals - dusty, dreamy, warm, comforting, harmonious and organic. The colors are gray, lemonade, sage, cornflower, oatmeal and stainless steel.
2. Flash Mob: Bright bold colors - playful, multi cultural, bright, diverse and use of color blocking. Urban and bold. The colors are lemon zest, blaze orange, aquamarine green/blue, magenta, dark grey and black.
3. Urban Valley: Natural and reconnected to nature and the outdoors. Folklore, earthy, nostalgic, clean, happy, creative and retro. The colors are mint green, Dijon gold, wasabi green, dark ocean green, mallard duck blue and California sun orange.
4. Relic Glam: Primitive and back to basics. Raw glamour, minerals, rich gem tones, textural, distressed, natural and warm. The colors are blonde, regal purple, baked cherry, lilac, firebird rust, tungsten blue/green/gray and French roast.
All of the four categories seem to have a common thread of being brighter and happier. This is a hopeful sign of the times and our economy turning around!
The last few years of color trends have stated safety, comfort and military.
I always look forward to classes on color - they are refreshing and enjoyable as well as educational.
Aging eyes are more sensitive to glare and older people require 3 times the amount of light to see as well as younger people. The lens of the eye gets yellow with age making it difficult to see colors such as purple/violet and blue/greens.
Thanks to funding from WHEDA in Wisconsin, there are beautiful, affordable multi family facilities popping up! I've had the opportunity to design a variety of multi family interiors.
One current trend is the re-purposing of older school buildings. A recent project was actually funded additionally by the historical society in the Milwaukee area. We kept the old school lockers - using the original yellow paint color. The school's display cases show off old memorabilia - trophies, books, uniforms and musical instruments from the past. The apartments are beautiful with full height windows and maple restored wood floors.
Another trend is to have a community room (required by WHEDA) with seating, TV, games, table/chairs and kitchen available for entertaining and events. There is a business center that provides access for all ages to use internet.
Finally another trend that is essential to our future - Applicants are encouraged to use WI Green Built Home Certification for points. Public transportation gains points as well as adaptive re-use.
What a joy it has been to work on these green, adaptive re-use projects!
We just finished the interiors of another senior housing facility in Oconto WI. Located in a small town of about 4500 people, this beautiful facility will draw seniors from this rural area which is located on Green Bay.
It makes us wonder about senior facilities and their locations. Certainly they are quite plentiful in the large metro areas. They are even competitive which is a plus for an interior design firm that works in this specialty market!
Competition is always good because it keeps standards up. Several of my projects have been remodels of existing senior housing facilities... typically 10-15 years old and needing a "face-lift". This is a wonderful aspect of our business.
However what will happen to the baby boomers in rural communities and small towns when they want to retire into a senior apartment or assisted living facility? Will they be forced to leave their roots - and go to a larger city? Or perhaps demographics will provide the developers of senior housing information that will move them to build new facilities in the small towns.
Senior housing continues to grow at a rapid pace! I'm sure all of us baby boomers will find a beautiful facility to grow old in!
Brenda L. Brady, ASID is a commercial interior designer with over 20 years of expertise in senior facilities, corporate offices, labs and healthcare design.