Whether you are looking to hire a senior living interior design firm or begin a career in this field, it’s important to understand the basic do’s and don’ts when it comes to designing for senior living communities.

Continue reading to learn more about the key things you should and shouldn’t be doing in your senior living interior design and browse through our blog and portfolio for further information!


  • Choose a design expert specializing in senior living interior design

Designing for senior living communities requires specialized skills and experience, separate from interior design for other building types or demographics. Senior living design requires an understanding of “staff and resident challenges with mobility, logistics and legal rights” says Paul Saks of LandSouth Construction in Multi-Housing News, because “age produces a completely new level of complexity.” So, be sure that the interior designer or team that you work with specializes in senior living interior design. Check out our past blog post on how to choose an expert in senior living commercial design for more insight on this.

  • Consider your local culture and geography in your design

“Your design should reflect the local styles, culture and trends of the area where the community is located,” says Annie Garagliano, designer at Warner Design Associates. For example, maritime or urban inspired colors, artwork and materials might work in Seattle, while a more desert-inspired feel is a better fit in Arizona.

“We spend a lot of time researching the region of each building so we can understand who our residents are.  What are the main industries, recreational activities, significant historical events and landmarks that have meaning to this group?  We tailor our aesthetic for every building to assimilate into the larger community so our finished interiors will appeal to local seniors and their families.  This isn’t a one-size-fits-all process, and the projects are always most successful when we let the location and our client’s programming dictate the evolution of the design,” says Warner Design Associates designer Rachel Gooding.

Therefore, if you have multiple communities in different areas, your design should be customized per area. This is an important factor in maintaining normalcy, comfort, and an “at home” feeling for residents, staff and guests. 

  • Research what your local competition is doing

When planning a new build or remodel, it’s extremely helpful to audit  what your competitors are doing design-wise. This will help you understand the options facing your current or future residents and design a senior living community that meets their needs and expectations, and meets or exceeds the offerings of your competitors. 

  • Pay attention to recent trends and what seniors expect from senior living communities today

The senior living industry has certainly evolved over the past several years. New trends and occurring regularly and today’s seniors have much higher expectations than previous generations. Stay on top of trends by brushing up on industry news and research (some of our favorite senior living resources are here), or getting “in the field” and surveying staff, residents and community-members.



  • Don’t forget about design considerations for staff, guests and community

Designing just for residents is an easy mistake to make. But others will be spending a considerable amount of time working with or visiting your residents, and the space should be comfortable and welcoming for them too. This helps encourage more guest visitors and interactions which is healthy for your residents, and creates a great work environment for your staff.

  • Don’t forget to think about indoor and outdoor living design

Contrary to the name, interior designers aren’t relegated to only designing indoor areas. Have you thought about the design of your outdoor areas? These are also important spaces for senior living communities as they encourage physical activity, mental wellness and socialization. Ask your senior living design team for recommendations regarding outdoor living areas.

  • Don’t expect that design is just décor

Another misconception is that interior designer services are only regarding décor. While that is important, great senior living interior designers are also skilled space programmers. They understand how a space will be used, how it will function, and how it will promote a healthy and safe environment for those that use it.  For example, at Warner Design, we can design a space to be flexible in its functionality. For example, a room might be designed to serve as an entertainment space for residents but it can also be used for staff training, and all of those logistics are taken into account. Not to mention safety best practices when it comes to designing specifically for the needs of seniors.


Have any senior living interior design do’s and don’ts you think should be added? Let us know! And contact us if you have any questions about our services or careers!