Our hard-working, brilliant team members, are what allow us to create wonderful living environments around the U.S. and Canada, and we think it’s important for our clients and other industry members to learn more about these fantastic team members of ours. In effort to support this, we’re sharing about our senior living interior designer, Annie Garagliano. Check out her interview below

How long have you been working with Warner Design Associates? 

Six years.

What do you enjoy about working with senior living communities, including independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, CCRC and hospice communities?

One of my most favorite things about doing design for a senior living community is the fact that I’m able to provide designs for someone who isn’t able to themselves. I feel like I’m giving back in a way and that it’s more appreciated. The majority of my work has been with memory care communities, both in new construction and remodels. I’ve learned over the years what works and doesn’t work for residents with memory impairments and from lessons learned have been able to provide safe and comfortable environments that can help improve the quality of the resident’s life.

What is the senior living design trend that you predict for 2018?

Senior living design has been trending more towards hospitality design for a few years now, but I see more industrial type design being integrated along with technology. I think a good combination of traditional with contemporary/industrial, such as reclaimed wood and metal accents.

What are some of the biggest changes you have seen in the senior living commercial design industry throughout your career?

We’re seeing cleaner lines and more grey tones in the wood finishes, and we’re are moving away from mahogany and cherry finishes. It’s a transition from traditional to more contemporary designs. Again, like I mentioned before, it’s more of a hospitality feel, and it’s happening nationally, not just in California [where Warner Designs Associates is located]. While we definitely take a building’s location in mind and try to design an interior for what will fit best within a neighborhood/community, people have been more open-minded to a more contemporary design.

What is the best way for designers in this industry to stay on top of the trends?

Subscribing to newsletters such as Senior Housing News, and attending industry conferences like Environments for Aging, CALA (California Assisted Living Association), and Leading Age. The conferences are not only a great opportunity to take courses on topics pertaining to the industry but also to network with other designers in the industry and to see what trends they’re seeing.  

How do you learn and understand the unique desires of each community, and create relevant interior designs?

This depends whether it’s new construction or a remodel. There are usually two main players we get our information from, the senior living community owner and the operator. The owner is who owns the building and is typically who we contract with. The owner may have certain interior design standards we need to follow, or we may present them our suggestions for the interiors. They usually set the parameters for what we need to work within and give final approval.

The operators are those who will run the building. Occasionally the owners and operations are one-in-the-same. The operator is our contact at the community and can give us all sorts of insight of the day-to-day operations of the community. These contacts can include the Executive Director, the Maintenance Director, the Activity Director or even the Health Services Director and their nursing staff. They provide information on the needs and wants of the community, everything from needing adjustable height tables to accommodate wheelchairs to needing extra storage for activities.

What has been one of your best career memories/proudest moment?

I’m always proud when I’ve complete a building and can attend a grand opening and see how it affects the people in the community and future residents, but I’m probably most proud of passing the NCIDQ exam two years ago.

What are some fun facts about you?

I love spending time with my dog, Hannah, who is a rescue from Turks and Caicos while I was there on vacation. My favorite food is cheese, I love a Hendrick’s Gin Negroni, and my favorite city is Paris. (I’m currently learning French!)