Putting the 'community' into communal spaces




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When people move to a retirement village, they are looking for a sense of community and connection. 

Facility buildings, community centres, or whatever you choose to call them, are often large, cavernous spaces and it can be a challenge to make them feel warm and welcoming. It's easy for the space to feel sterile and almost commercial. 

It is important that your communal spaces are community spaces that become an extension of your residents' home. A place where they can meet people, socialise with friends and family, even host a special celebration. 

If your reception area or sales office is located within the building, it is even more important that it is a warm and welcoming space, because this will be the first impression potential residents have of the community. 

From a design perspective, breathing new life into your community space doesn't need to be expensive or complicated. 

Give it a 'wow' factor

It only takes one special design feature to create a focal point for your community. A carefully curated piece of art, a stunning chandelier, a stone wall or even a vertical indoor garden immediately draws the eye and elevates the look and feel of the whole space. It might cost a little more, but it is a worthwhile investment and one that your residents will appreciate. Given that it becomes the focus, other items can be less expensive and won't be noticed. 

The right light

No one feels good in a dark and dreary space. Conversely, no one wants to feel like they are sitting under a harsh spotlight. Harnessing the natural light is always a good place to start. Removing heavy curtains or shutters or adding a sky light can make a dramatic difference to the feel of any room - large or small. 

In choosing lighting options, consider how the space will be used. If residents will use it at nighttime for games and activities, the space will need to be well-lit. This could include a combination of downlights and pendant lights to provide a good amount of light without being too overbearing. If it is a space for dinner and drinks, a softer lighting option like dimmable downlights, wall sconces and lamps will be more appropriate. Consider the circuiting, so that all lighting doesn't have to be on together. 

Turn the design clock forward

Design elements like round pillars covered in laminate, a peach pink wall, or powder-coated blue handrails, immediately date a building, and give away its age. 

Boxing in or painting pillars an unobtrusive colour and updating the colour scheme throughout your community spaces are simple and relatively inexpensive ways to modernise a space without the need for major structural adjustments. 

If you want to be right on trend, grounding mature colours such as orange, yellow and monochrome are tipped to be the hot colours in 2021. This kind of trend won't date your facilities. And remember, colour can be joyful and there's nothing wrong with some pops of bright hues against a more soothing palette. 

Space planning and furniture selection

Making the best of use the space is crucial to creating a sense of warmth and familiarity. If it is a multipurpose space, divide it into zones and define the activities that will take place in those zones. For example, you wouldn't position a reading nook next to a games lounge.

In choosing furniture, make sure it is both stylish, practical and suits the scale and size of the room. Many designers are creating beautiful furniture, designed specifically for the retirement villages, that is comfortable, practical and affordable.

Ultimately, the best way to work out if you've got the right facilities with the right features is to talk to the right people - your residents.

Keeley Green is an interior designer specialising in residential, retirement living and boutique commercial projects, offering exclusive and attentive one on one service. With a refined sense of grace, character and a keen eye for quality, Keeley Green Interior Design brings a practical and creative approach to each project.

Keeley Green

0409 528 800

enquiries@keeleygreendesign.com