Interior design for the retirement living sector requires a different approach to the private residential market. Potential homeowners aren’t only looking for a change of home, but a change of lifestyle too. Our director, Steve Hird highlights how retirement living developers can use interior design to attract purchasers…
“Since Covid, the retirement sector has evolved to focus on the homeowner experience and the sociable, inclusive and connected lifestyle they can enjoy. This has translated into our design briefs, with the overarching directive to be age appropriate but not old fashioned.
“For individual show apartments, our approach is heavily resident-centric. We create an imaginary homeowner, are they single or in a couple, what are their hobbies and interests, how do they want to live? All this informs our designs. So show apartments might illustrate activities that are based around the home e.g. painting, sewing, reading, or include examples of how other pastimes might be enjoyed e.g. equipment neatly stored for fishing or birdwatching. Of course, there’s a practical element to demonstrate too. At this stage of life, homeowners are often downsizing so it’s important to show how furniture might fit and different configurations of space, including how to overcome any pinch points or tricky layouts such as sloping ceilings.
“For retirement living developers, this approach has been invaluable, and through refreshing outdated apartments or furnishing stock plots to better reflect the lifestyle of this generation, we’ve significantly increased sales rates. In some cases, housebuilders have found it’s worth investing in multiple, fully furnished apartments that can be sold as entirely ready to move in. Remembering that the upheaval of moving can be a deterrent so offering a solution can help set a development apart. Similarly, we’re also working with developers to deliver curtain and light packages to make it easier for new homeowners on moving day.
“Of course, with the retirement market it’s not solely the new homeowner that needs to be reassured. Family and friends will often want to view and ask questions too. We design some developments with a guest suite, somewhere for visitors to stay alongside their loved one, and some even with a gender-neutral guest bedroom for grandchildren. But a popular tool is the ‘try before you buy’ suite. These are apartments designed like showhomes but with a more ‘lived-in’ feel. The idea being that potential purchasers can stay overnight or for a couple of nights to truly envision themselves in the home, understand room sizes and layouts, test kitchen and bathroom appliances, and ultimately make a more informed decision.
“Actually, on some of our recent instructions, this concept is being taken a step further to introduce a show suite that encompasses a whole floor. This means homeowners can see a variety of apartment designs; some are fully furnished, some part-furnished and some allow for optional add-ons such as furniture, artwork and wallpaper, meaning the purchaser can build their own show apartment. This innovation not only gives developers opportunities to showcase different layouts but is a new sales tool they can promote. On one site, there’d been no reservations for three months but after designing and installing six apartments within a show suite, four properties sold within eight weeks so it can be highly effective.”
Retirement Living apartments, guest suites and try before you buy suites as designed and installed by Edward Thomas Interiors.