- Creative as well as ample lifestyle space
- An eclectic interior design “package” that avoids the “in-suite” matched furniture look
- Cutting-edge health and fitness facilities, access to information and a pedestrian-friendly environment minimizing the use of motor vehicles to complement their diverse lifestyles
Thanks to immediate access to a virtually unlimited supply of information available on the Internet, in newspapers and magazines and on cable TV, boomers are more home-savvy than previous generations.
But, while technology enables boomers to do their “homework” in their search for a new home or active adult community, most consumers have trouble negotiating some of the most significant in-home intricacies — such as proportion, scale and use of color.
While each of these elements can be appealing in and of itself, this does not necessarily mean they can all work together in harmony. Pulling these elements together to create an appealing product is just one example of why and how qualified interior design and selection center professionals are needed.
Design Trends That Will Make Your Products Appealing
During my years designing for the active adult market, evaluating its trends and scrutinizing its evolution, I have developed the following list of simple, yet necessary design approaches to key spaces to help create product that appeals to today’s boomers:
- Discovery: Evaluate your product with help from a professional designer through a “discovery” process of exterior/interior analysis. This will save you time and resources, and ultimately result in a superior product where construction-friendly options are properly showcased.
- Foyer: The entrance should set the tone for the home’s interior and present a clear focal point of what’s to come. The larger the foyer, the larger the total living area of the home should be.
- High Ceilings: Ceiling heights should maximize the home’s square footage, make the home appear airy and project your product’s superior architecture. Ten-foot ceilings throughout are popular, with coffered ceiling accents in foyers, owner’s suits and baths. Family rooms can include a combination of 10-foot ceilings and two-story spaces accented with generous transom windows.
- Kitchen: The trend in the kitchen is to create a space that serves as the home’s informal daily gathering place; therefore, there should be no compromising on design or budget. Since boomers spend plenty of money in options during the pre-construction phase, builders should offer state-of-the-art conveniences in the kitchen. This includes high-end cabinets and counters, cook tops with designer tile backsplashes, extended counters at a “non-bar” height and well conceived lighting.
- Living Room: For single-family homes, the national trend is to render a smaller, library-sized area with a wet/dry bar feature and comfortable seating. In a condominium or penthouse, a more traditional approach is needed that features ample seating, generous windows and a fireplace and TV appropriately positioned.
- Dining Room: Formal dining remains popular, allowing designers to craft fresh, fully-functional dining areas to entertain guests.
- Powder Room: Though a relatively tiny space, the powder room can serve as the equivalent of fine art, especially when modern furniture, quality cabinets, state-of-the-art sinks and toilets and decorative lighting are included.
- Owners’ Retreat & Bath: Inspired by palatial European hotels and guest villas that American travelers covet, these grand rooms represent old world indulgence bathed in 21st-century products. The challenge is to create separate areas for sleeping, reading or exercising and accenting them with tantalizing appointments such as fireplaces, a dry bar with under-counter refrigerator and an abundance of strategically-placed windows to maximize the view while also maintaining privacy.
- Guest Room & Bath: As a design and architectural trend, the guest room is a relatively new but popular addition to the home. It works well for the extended guest or someone who merits VIP treatment. This space should be over-scaled to accommodate furniture and an adjoining bath that adheres to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) principles.
- Gathering Room: Is it a family room or a great room? No matter, the gathering room is all about lifestyle and features ample space for practical furniture placement, comfortable TV viewing, a fireplace and plenty of windows.
- Rail System: Newer appointments such as elaborate iron rails are quickly becoming popular not only with consumers but with builders, too, because of their easier accessibility and more reasonable pricing.
Like architects, community planners, construction personnel and sales associates, the role of the interior designer will be tested like never before as the boomer generation heads into what will be the busiest buying period in U.S. history. Working in lasting partnership, all members of the building industry stand to gain unprecedented success in satisfying the specific requirements of today’s affluent active adult home buyer as well as the “booming” market about to erupt.
Cathie Daly is president of Medford, NJ-based Design East, Inc. Daly and her team of design professionals apply strategic planning to model homes, sales environments, community clubhouses and design centers. Daly is the 2004 president of the New Jersey Builders Association’s Senior Housing Council, a local council of the NAHB Seniors Housing Council. She also has served on numerous national subcommittees. She can be reached by e-mail or at 609-654-9675.
Attend the 2005 Seniors Housing Symposium in Metro Washington, D.C. Area
Do you want to learn more about the fastest-growing segment of the housing market? Make your plans to attend Building for Boomers & Beyond: Seniors Housing Symposium 2005, the premier educational and networking event for industry professionals who serve the burgeoning 50+ market. For more information, click here.
'Building Type Basics for Senior Living' Available at BuilderBooks.com
"Building Type Basics for Senior Living," available at BuilderBooks.com, covers the essentials for the planning and design of housing and care environments for the elderly. This nuts-and-bolts guide provides need-to-know information on a range of building subtypes, including active adult communities, continuing care retirement communities, assisted living, adult day care, skilled nursing facilities and more. To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665 to order.
Learn More About Seniors Housing Through the Seniors Housing Council
To learn more about seniors housing, join the NAHB Seniors Housing Council. The council provides information, education, networking and recognition opportunities for its members and represents NAHB on seniors housing issues. For more details, e-mail Jeff Jenkins or call him at 800-368-5242 x8292.
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