Author: Stacy Hollinger Main

Stacy Hollinger Main

Today, Stacy Hollinger Main, a partner and interior designer at RLPS Architects, is sharing her philosophy and advice on senior living design. RLPS is an award-winning firm located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, that specializes in architecture and interior design for a variety of industries, including senior living, assisted living and dementia/memory care. Stacy has 28 years of design experience and has spent 21 of those years designing senior living communities at RLPS.

What is your philosophy on senior living design?

First of all, it’s important to understand that it’s not “senior living” design — it’s about good design, period. We take the approach of looking at design from a holistic point of view with a nod to hospitality design, but scaled appropriately for people who are living there.

To appeal to Baby Boomers, designs must be contemporary and reflect the distinctive experiences and lifestyle offered to those moving into a particular community. It’s tailored to people who have the desire to live in housing that’s beautiful and well maintained with a lot of amenities — but designed appropriately for the people who are using it.

Take carpet, for instance. It may look rich, but there are a lot of factors that we take into consideration behind the scenes. The carpet has to be able to handle rolling traffic, such as wheelchairs, scooters and walkers. And it’s not just about the items that assist the residents to keep them ambulatory; it’s also about the staff — whatever they’re pushing and navigating, such as med carts. It’s often a matter of weighing the options with our clients for each particular application. Carpet is typically more homelike and helps with acoustics, but it’s easier to propel rolling traffic over hard surfaces.

What advice would you give senior living communities?

Communities need to stay current and fresh because the competition is high, and trends change constantly. Just as you want to update your own wardrobe, you want to make sure that your floors and walls are all up-to-date.

Our goal is to create timeless communities that speak to the brand and reinforce it across all levels of care. However, it’s easy for communities to get out of date. You don’t want people to be fearful to go to a higher level of care, such as assisted living or memory care, because the spaces look outdated and not as nice as independent living.

That’s why it’s important to include interior design in your master planning. Your community needs to put a refresh of its design into the capital budget. You need to evaluate every aspect of your decor at least every 8–10 years, although you can change things like paint and accessories more often for a refreshed look.

 What are your favorite projects?

In the end, once we’ve had that ribbon-cutting ceremony, and we hear people walking through the rooms, experiencing the design for the first time and talking about it, feeling happy — those are our favorite projects. It’s really about the way the design has improved their lives. And it’s not just about the people who are living there; it’s about staff, too. If we’ve been able to help a staff member do his or her job better and promote health or wellness because of the materials we’ve used, it’s impacting people’s lives for the better.

We do projects across the U.S. They’re all challenging and all unique. We don’t do cookie-cutter projects. We are creating a unique atmosphere for the community while striving to create trust, open communication and a positive end result for our client. Those are the best projects — when a client is asking us to come back to do the next one.

What do you like most about your job?

When you look at a room, when you look at space, it’s more than six sides of a box; it’s the potential for creativity. When we start to fill the box with the interior elements, we look at the floor, walls and ceiling. We think about acoustics and window treatments and lighting and accessories. In the end, it’s all about the people who are using the space. What I like most about my job is seeing people who are enjoying the space as they work and live here.

The goal for design is all about creating an environment to inspire people and transform lives. Our goal at RLPS is to do that in all aspects of our design, not just in senior living.

 

 

Stacy Hollinger Main

Today, Stacy Hollinger Main, a partner and interior designer at RLPS Architects, is sharing a guest post on the latest trends in senior living design. RLPS is an award-winning firm located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, that specializes in architecture and interior design for a variety of industries, including senior living, assisted living and dementia/memory care. Stacy has 28 years of design experience and has spent 21 of those years designing senior living communities at RLPS.

Here are some of the design trends I’m seeing in the senior living space right now:

Healthy design materials

During this time of the coronavirus crisis, it’s more important than ever to use products that safely combat the spread of bacteria in materials for flooring, door hardware, seating, etc. When we select products for our clients’ communities, we not only make sure that they can be easily maintained and cleaned, but that they include materials that aren’t harmful to people or the environment. One example is copper, a naturally self-sanitizing material that can be used in bed rails, door and cabinet hardware and other high-touch surfaces as a healthy alternative to harmful chemicals.

Flexible dining spaces

When we do renovations, we’re focused on flexibility. One trend is creating a bar that can be used as a breakfast spot in the morning, a smoothie bar midday (where residents can come after exercising) and a bar that can be used for happy hour or pre-dining gatherings in the evening.

In terms of seating, booths or banquettes are appealing because people feel they have their own zone. We can create intimate spaces with the appeal of a restaurant for a variety of seating and tables, rather than a sea of furniture that is all the same.

Region-specific design

Communities don’t want to look or feel like Anywhere, USA. They want to reinforce their brand and create spaces that feel relevant and resonate with seniors in their market area. We look at every aspect of our work to make sure that it reflects the vernacular design of the area. For instance, the artwork has to be authentic to the region. For a community we are working with in Florida, that means if we specify artwork featuring birds, they are indigenous to the west coast of Florida — not birds you might find in North Carolina. The designs we do for communities in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, aren’t going to look like the ones we’re doing in New Hampshire or Florida.

Holistic amenities

Another huge trend is pushing the limits on amenities. Instead of just a salon where you can get your hair done, clients want to see spaces that convey a multidimensional, holistic approach to wellness in every aspect of the environment.

Multiuse spaces

Spaces need to be very flexible — it’s important to get three or four uses out of them. For example, we created a theater room for a local community. The community doesn’t just use it for movie night; it uses it as a space to interact with other communities (playing competitive Wii bowling against each other), and it sets up equally well as a space for lectures and presentations.

Technology

With the rise of smart homes and intelligent design, the use of technology in senior living is already a major trend. I see technology being incorporated more and more into all levels of care. From an interior design perspective, that means making sure we’ve addressed how people can easily and comfortably connect to technology within their living spaces. Technology also provides opportunities for interactive artwork or screen savers for aesthetic appeal when a screen is not in use.

Look for another blog about Stacy Hollinger Main’s design work coming soon.

To learn more about the way RLPS interior designers work with you to create appealing spaces with lasting value, visit their website.