How we’ve mishandled art in assisted living

Artwork has been slowly changing in assisted living communities from paintings of children and puppies to a more sophisticated pallet of abstracts, graphics, landscapes, etc. But maybe we have gone too far in trying to make assisted living interiors relevant and hip. Creating a Crate & Barrel interior leaves little interest for the resident that will view the walls 12 hours a day for the next 2-7 years.

The issue is that artwork options have changed so little in the past five years that designers tend to stray too far from the likes of the resident in order to not be bored with the design packages they specify. Photography is also creeping in along with abstract art. Both can be confusing for assisted living residents as many have some form of dementia.

Typically, the best options are to mix in a blend of prints, canvas, and photography throughout the space that reflects different themes and adds to wayfinding while tying in local areas and items of importance to the residents.

Budgets don’t allow for much more than prints but technology has created the ability to custom color a print to the interior, adding elegance without increasing the price of a custom painting. Another tip to add visual interest is to vary frames, use double mats vs. single mat, and add brass name plates for historical photos.

Above all, keep in mind that these spaces are not like a hotel where artwork is viewed in short spurts. Residents will look at what you select for years to come. Choose wisely.

Interesting floor murals decorate an assisted living community in Iowa.

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