5 tips for designing Senior Living spaces

5 tips for designing Senior Living spaces

Designing for Senior Living

As Seniors age, their preferences, senses, mobility, and inspiration change, too. It is important when designing for senior living communities to integrate design elements to best support their evolving needs. 

1. Soften those corners

Safety is one of the most important elements of design for senior living communities. In fact, this is why assisted living spaces are created—to foster a safe, communal environment where seniors can age in place. 

Ensuring that furniture has soft, rounded corners is a great place to start. But beyond that, these softer corners also provide a more comforting, inviting space that makes seniors feel more at home.

2. Use larger patterns

Studies show that seniors are naturally drawn to certain types of patterns. While aging eyes cannot distinguish small patterns and can find overly complex, overlapping shapes to be confusing, pattern, in general, provides a sense of intrigue and connection. 

Start by adding texture and pattern through pillows, on seating, or even in resident room details to encourage a sense of personalization and ownership. This variety of patterns and textures offers visual intrigue for residents.

3. Choose vibrant colors

Color plays a key role in the overall look and feel of a space. Therefore, when designing for seniors, it is important to know that seniors typically see 20% less color saturation than younger generations. They also have an easier time seeing blue and green wavelengths than reds or yellows. When choosing a senior living-focused color palette, start with more vibrant colors to ensure connection and inspiration. 

Studies have also shown that colors found in nature can significantly reduce stress and promote peace. Deep greens that mimic moss and leaves promote balance and harmony, while shades of blue that reflect tones of water and sky encourage serenity. Any way that we can integrate vibrant shades of nature into senior living spaces ensures more connection and tranquility. 

To ensure safety, it is also important to use color to provide distinction. Walls and floors should vary in color, as well as changes in flooring or the beginning of stairs. The design can also help differentiate between major pieces of furniture, drapes, and floors with contrasting colors.

4. Spark connection

Space design should inspire connections between residents, caregivers, and guests, as well as encouraging personal reflection + memory. Artwork is an easy place to start. Our design team often finds these connecting pieces through vintage artwork, or colorful accent artwork, offering a natural spark for conversation. 

Otherwise, add games, design accents, or materials that can thoughtfully tie into generational stories. Any way that we can use design to encourage connection stimulates activity and engagement that will provide a better experience for the residents within.

5. Consider best seating practices

Where younger generations might love low-sitting, deep couches, aging residents need a different type of comfort. For starters, seat heights should all be 18-19 inches or higher so that the hip never drops below the knee. Finding seating that allows the hip and knee to rest at a 90-degree angle allows for easier accessibility. 

Next, consider durable, cleanable fabrics that will hold up over the course of extended use. Seating that maintains its shape and looks clean will give seniors a sense of pride in their space. 

Finally, always include arms. Arms are a key component for accessibility as they offer an easy grip as seniors sit and rise. This gives residents a sense of comfort and independence for mobility.

Chelsie Fritz, Interior Designer
Chelsie Fritz
Interior Designer

Chelsie has always been gifted with her hands, and an eye for design, craftsmanship, and nature. From her college career at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Indiana University Bloomington, to her early career, and now OFS, she is known for her willingness and eagerness to jump in, get her hands dirty, and bring beauty and joy wherever she goes. These traits carry from her professional to her personal life, where she can often be found creating art with her two children, as well.