The Kansas community prioritizes high ceilings and modern light fixtures.

Stratford Commons believes SNF residents deserve the same stylish décor and ambient atmosphere that senior living residents get.

Senior living communities shouldn’t have a monopoly on advanced contemporary design, and with Stratford Commons, skilled nursing residents enjoy the same environmental benefits as their peers in independent and assisted living.

The $7.5 million, 43-room skilled nursing center expansion adds a much-needed component to the community in Overland Park, KS, which now offers the entire spectrum of long-term care services.

“With the addition of skilled nursing and rehabilitation services, we will be able to offer a full continuum of care — much like a traditional CCRC — without requiring an initial large cash outlay by residents,” says Joe Tutera, CEO of Tutera Senior Living and Healthcare Group.

“Much of skilled nursing is behind the times and underdeveloped,” notes Anna Wiles, designer with the Austin, TX-based design firm StudioSIX5. “So we were delighted to bring the boutique experience to skilled nursing at Stratford Commons.”

What comprises a “boutique experience,” exactly? For the design team, it means creating an environment that showcases style, fashion, sophistication and flair in its aesthetics, atmosphere, floor plan and hospitality for residents. For instance, high ceilings in common areas were a priority, Wiles says.

“Many older SNFs have low ceilings, making them feel crowded and stuffy,” she says.

Wiles says the design team wanted to replace traditional upholstery style elements with a more progressive approach that features light green carpets, travertine tiles, modern light fixtures, light maple vinyl planks and cool neutral tones with flashes of bright color to provide a high contrast, but welcoming décor.

“The ambiance is very warm, hospitable and playful,” she says. The design scheme isn’t just about aesthetics, however; there also is a profound functional element that is intended to help staff better serve residents and to make the entire operation more efficient.

The attention to detail extends to how the workstations were built to improve nurses’ workflow and comfort, with such modifications as bar- and desk-height counters so they can chart standing up or sitting down. Tutera also was adamant about “staying ahead of the curve” with innovative electronic records.

As evidenced by the progressive approach to Stratford Commons, taking skilled nursing design to the next level appears to be gathering steam with firms such as StudioSIX5. The trend should continue, Wiles says.

“We aren’t just looking at what is trending within senior living; we are drawing from trends in hotels, restaurants and spas,” she says. “We’re taking all these inspirations and using them to create new experiences for each community.”