Senior Living Designer Makes Different Pieces Fit

CarDon's Corporate Interior Designer Maria Ramirez

Interior designer Maria Ramirez takes the same approach to homes that she took to the puzzles she spent hours building in her room as a little girl.

“It’s all about putting different pieces together and making sure they fit,” she said. “My job is a bit tricky because it requires mixing a traditional, older feel with a modern aesthetic.”

As the corporate interior designer for CarDon & Associates, a Bloomington, Ind.-based senior living community management company, Maria designs living spaces to appeal across generations and accommodate people who are downsizing.

“A lot of people who are downsizing get scared that they won’t be able to fit everything they want,” she said. “But I create spaces where they don’t have to cram everything in or get rid of their most cherished keepsakes.”

To allow seniors the smoothest transition possible from a larger house to an assisted or independent living apartment, Maria starts with safety in mind. These are a few steps she makes sure are included during construction:

Maria recommends grab bars as a primary safety precaution.

Installing grab bars: These are especially important for helping residents maintain balance in the bathroom and shower.

Maintaining smooth flooring throughout the home: Doing away with rugs not only prevents trips and falls, but maintaining the same flooring height and creating smooth transitions from hardwood or tile to carpet make living spaces feel more open and free flowing.

Brightening things up: Vibrant lights and colors generally make spaces appear bigger. These elements are also essential for the aging eyes of CarDon’s residents. That’s why Maria suggests optimal overhead lighting as well as reading lamps and floor lamps. A modern color palette is also more appealing to younger generations who may be looking for senior living options to fit their loved ones’ needs.

Maria also makes residents feel at home by including familiar household staples throughout CarDon’s communities.

“When you transition to an apartment-style life, you might think you’re missing out on your old household items and luxuries, but you can still enjoy them in the amenity spaces around you,” she said. “For example, let’s say you had a piano in your house — you might walk down the hall from your apartment and find one in the activity room. In the Memory Care unit of our Altenheim community, residents have a multifunctional theater area right outside of their rooms where they can watch their favorite movies and shows on a large TV as well as play card games and engage in other fun activities. So, it’s like a living room — they just have to take a little trip to get there!”

Maria often finds herself taking trips to many different CarDon communities, which is why the organization is gearing up to showcase her designer ventures on a regular basis through social media.

As she said: “We thought this would be a fun way to let staff and residents know, ‘Here’s where Maria is this week,’ and for me to say, ‘Hey, I’m coming your way and working to enhance the spaces where we all live, work and play.’”