Does “senior living facility” ring the institutional alarm bell for you? Fortunately, modern senior care facility design┬áplaces greater emphasis on Home rather than Hospital. When architects and designers first made that shift, we ended up with a host of senior communities that looked like hotels instead. While this is preferable to an institutional feel, it’s still not the ideal.

Institutions look like prisons, hotels seem impersonal and transient; so how do we make our senior care communities look like Home? Here are four of our suggestions:

  1. Avoid large-scale furniture. Avoid large-scale anything for that matter. We all shrink a bit as we age so large cavernous furniture is intimidating. Cozy and mismatched, but complementary, furniture will be much more comfortable.

    Cambridge Homes, Cambridge, MA

    Cambridge Homes, Cambridge, MA. Designed by Leslie Saul & Associates.

  2. Mix up patterns and color. Part of the reason retirement communities feel like a hotel is that designers go all matchy-matchy. This ends up creating a completely impersonal design. Mixing colors and patterns will yield more home-like results, without any element of overly-formal or bland decor.

    NewBridge Art Sculpture Wall

    “Vitality” wall sculpture. Source:

  3. Cleanliness is a virtue. Clean as if your grandmother could eat off the floor. A dirty, smelly environment can never feel like home. Keep it fresh, airy and smelling good.

    Leslie Saul Senior Living Design

    Cohen Florence Levine Estates, Chelsea, MA
    ( Leslie Saul & Associates in association with DiMella Shaffer)

  4. Create smaller lounging spaces. As long as you’re avoiding large-scale furniture, why not avoid impressive hotel-type lobbies, which make it difficult to feel comfortable and secure. Small lounges with a cozy fireplace (remember, seniors get colder as they age!) are much more desirable.

    John Bertram House Swampscott MA

    John Bertram House, Swampscott, MA. Designed by Leslie Saul & Associates in association with Bergmeyer Associates

Contact Leslie Saul & Associates Architecture and Interiors to discuss remodeling your senior care facility to feel like a real home.