Furniture, layout, lighting, flooring and other interior design elements are key to creating a welcoming, comfortable and safe living environment for people in senior living communities, OZ Architecture’s Julia Bailey, NCIDQ, LEED GA, asserts in an article published by McKnight’s Senior Living.
Bailey, an interior designer on the OZ senior living team, is one of several experts quoted in the McKnight’s article. Among the suggestions she and the other experts offer:
• Prioritize value over price in choosing furnishings. For dining rooms, says Bailey, choose resin-based or attractive metal furnishings over wood, because wheelchairs can scratch or otherwise damage wooden legs and frames. “There are some very nice resin-based or metal faux wood [furnishings] that have the essence of classic pieces but are more durable.” Also, for added safety, steer clear of furniture with sharp corners in favor of pieces with softer bullnose edges.
• Pay attention to dimension. Be sure furniture is dimensionally appropriate for the comfort and safety of residents. Bailey recommends 18- to 21-inch seat height as optimal, adding that seat depth for lounge pieces in a senior living environment typically should fall in the mid-20-inch range, whereas dining room seating should be shallower — around 18 to 20 inches. Flexibility is also critical in furniture design, and according to Bailey, 42-inch square tables are convenient because they can be pushed together to create a larger table. Café- and pub-style furnishings also can serve multiple purposes in settings such a lounge or reception area, she notes, giving residents a place to play cards or visit with friends while they wait for loved ones or a ride.