As we move toward the baby boomer customer model, some may be wondering what exactly “homelike” means to interior design. Is it a hotel lobby, country club, bed and breakfast? Or do traditional interiors simply updated with the latest colors suffice?
I think the question is misleading as geography, ethnicity, and income levels all have bearings on what we should be doing for whom. However, for the sake of argument I am struggling with what this generation will be satisfied with when it comes to independent and assisted living. I have discussed in previous blogs the technological revolution in medical care that will take hold, but I can’t put my finger on what style and program will satisfy this crowd of boomers. Eclectic comes to mind as does shabby chic and classy comfortable. Will they make the shift to hard surface flooring like we have seen in the residential market? Will they want more community space but also larger units?
In building the latest and greatest main street concepts we have created mini Las Vegas hotels for the residents (some even have slot machines!) without the headliners performing. The 88-year-old loves this but what about the 70-year-old? I believe we should move away from themed corridors and concentrate more on interiors that support the kind of activities boomers will engage in, which is how the design plays out in a great main street.
We are moving away from buying art and instead buying art systems that show off the residents’ work. This has been done for quite awhile in the 55+ communities in Florida and Arizona. Starbucks-like gathering spaces are popping up with coffee branded by the home and sold to residents and customers. These interiors are hipper than the traditional Queen Anne chairs and traditional fabrics. Lounge spaces feel more like a country club versus a home yet are still comfortable and offer enough design that they don’t feel like a hotel lobby.
The baby boomer customer is more savvy, well-traveled, and learned than our current clientele. We need to step up our game as designers and community planners and look at how the space can be used and how it should appear.