1. Know your long-term care audience. Resimmercial is the artful confluence of residential and commercial design. The simple fact is that, increasingly, the lines between home and work are becoming blurred for workers. The same can be said of nursing home residents, whose dislike of institutional surroundings is best tempered by their fondness for anything evoking home.

“This trend is gaining traction because it combines the best parts of residential, community and hospitality appeal to the design,” says Kwalu CEO Michael Zusman. “Influenced by condominium living, senior living communities are designing rooms that are upscale in size and style. Resimmercial design brings in the world outside of the senior living community.”

2. Understand the key elements of resimmercial design.

To Zusman, resimmercial allows facilities to imbue warm, memorable and comfortable elements to furnishings for residents, while simultaneously creating inviting workplaces that evoke efficiency and productivity. 

According to Brighton, MI-based T2 Designs, a commercial interior design firm, resimmercial design endeavors to “make people happy.” 

Some of the common resimmercial design elements include the following:

Brightly colored furnishings and wall and floor coverings, which “gives the space personality and life,” according to T2 Designs. 

Warmth and softness in both materials and styles. Wood, felt, cork and textured fabrics are common. Soft lines in furnishings are also key to creating the resimmercial look. 

Homelike furniture in office-like spaces. Think dining room table in an employee meeting room.
“We are seeing a resurgence of high design in wing-back seating in common areas, tufted backs in dining room seating and luxurious, easy-to-clean fabrics in all senior living environments,” Zusman notes.

Multitasking furniture and spaces that allow modular adaptations on the fly. Communities with flexible, multi-use spaces that incorporate technology into the design are becoming increasingly popular in skilled nursing facility settings, according to Ann Marie Caouette, a PR specialist for StudioSIX5. Think dining room and lounge furniture with built-in USB ports or powered outlets, Caouette adds.

A plethora of televisions in common spaces. The video screen is now central for all ages.

3. Signs say go for it. How do you determine if resimmercial design is a good fit?

Zusman asserts the answer comes from prospective residents.

“When seniors and their families are looking for the place to move into, the locale that looks like a resort is chosen every time over the community that is reminiscent of a [traditional] nursing home,” he says.

“It’s not an option anymore — it’s universal design,” adds
Caouette. “Today’s communities are multigenerational, so you already have visitors and caregivers bringing commercial needs into these residential spaces.”

Zusman believes this design trend is rapidly becoming favored across all lines in senior living.

“Resimmercial is a good idea for any senior living community, independent, assisted, skilled and memory care because it brings high style and the all-important comfortable, cozy feel seniors desire,” Zusman adds. “A fresh and warmly designed environment supports the community’s marketability.”

4. When in doubt, consider taking a piecemeal approach. Not sure whether to plunge head-first into resimmercial? Break it down into smaller chunks.

Zusman advises a smaller-scale rebuild, with different amenities in various facility areas. “Focus on one area at a time, beginning with the areas of high interest, like dining and lounges,” he says. “Create a café, furnish it with café seating and tables that make the space inviting; a place residents will make a date to visit often.”

Lounges and movie rooms are other common areas that can benefit from resimmercial design. For example, think conversation-stimulating colors on walls, wood-look and tile-look high performance laminate on the floors. 

“Multiple options in seating, like benches, comfy sofas, high-backed lounge chairs, theater chairs and ottomans should be utilized in these spaces, with occasional tables to support activities and stimulate aging brains,” he adds. 

At the end of the day, says
Caouette, the goal should be a space that supports the technology needs of residents, visitors and staff but still feels like a hospitality environment. 

“Flexibility is already integral to the design of senior living/multifamily/hospitality environments,” she adds. “For example, a dining table becomes a conference table or a work desk, depending on who is using it. Recognize the need for flexible furnishings and a robust Wi-Fi infrastructure throughout.”