By Lisa Cini
As Dorothy says in The Wizard of OZ, were not in Kansas anymore. The shift from the silent generation to the baby boomer generation is not only a shift in what one stands for but how and where they stand. To think that “homelike” would mean the same thing to a boomer as it does to the silent generation is a bit presumptuous, yet many senior living providers have done just this.
The similarities are striking between Dorothy and the baby boomers. One must run away from home to realize “there’s no place like home.”
“Homelike” as Dorothy reveals is the place where you feel safe, connected and loved. It’s not about ownership, and fancy things. Boomers want connection and flexibility over stability and pomp. “Homelike” for the Boomer means having spaces personalized. A home office and connected kitchen are critical, as they support the entrepreneurial spirit of a boomer and the need to create and connect through food. Casual Elegance defines the interior design. Providing an interior that is as well appointed as it is comfortable.
Lemonade and the rocking chair on the front porch have been replaced by the firepit and a fine wine in the backyard. Boomers don’t observe, they engage in life.
The Home Office
45% of boomers consider themselves entrepreneurs, per the Kaufman Foundation. This could be anything from a side hustle, a home-based business, consulting or traditional entrepreneurial business. The Boomer generation has the largest percentage that consider themselves entrepreneurs and this has a great impact on what “homelike” means. Instead of separating work and business life, they are now co-mingled, and work has become a creative expression for boomers, mixing their passion with making a living.
Technology has supported this allowing entrepreneurs and micro workers and consultants to work where ever and when ever they wish. Its not a traditional home office that you may be thinking of either. The likes of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell and other “garage startups” are in direct contrast to the previous industrial age, large investment formula for business success.
The Key to a great home office is having spaces that are flexible with access to technology, are as comfortable as your living room and have lots of natural light. Acoustics are also key with the need to video conferencing and even recording your own YouTube show or podcasts.
Casual Elegance – No Labels
Gone are the days of Chippendale furniture and the formality of having the bedspread match the drapes perfectly. Boomers value experience over labels and this has translated into interior design that uses furniture as the backdrop of their lives vs. the statement of the room. Very similar to a museum.
Its best described as casual elegance which is a combination between shabby chic and urban farmhouse. The kind of space where you can have a glass of wine with your friends and not worry if it spills on the sofa. Where your recent finds from your travels are highlighted as well as your curated artwork collection.
Less is more. Out is the world of curio cabinets and nick knacks of glass and china. In is the story behind each piece and your connection to it. Neutrals with bold accent colors that are easily changed provide the perfect complement to the adventurous, continuously growing and connecting boomer.
We are all meant to be in community, for the boomers this is even more important as this was the generation of communes, following the Dead and college shifting from the path to getting a good job to be the place where you could discover yourself and experiment. Connection space is critical to a boomer as it brings back the heydays of college and freedom. The success of movies like The Big Chill, reinforce how important the days of experimentation and connection were for boomers.
It’s not only about the arrangement of the furniture, being connected through the internet is critical. Boomers demand to have full access to all their technology wherever they are. As with the home office, great acoustics are necessary, as we unplug from our devices and speak naturally (as we would if someone was sitting next to us) through our tablets, TV’s and Alexa or Google home devices. It’s necessary that we utilize interior materials that make it easier to hear clearly and that sound is isolated from one space to another.
Boomers have taken cooking from a labor of love to an artform. Foodies not only enjoy great food, but they love to make it and experiment with new techniques and then share all of this on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Can you image 5 years ago pulling out your camera at a restaurant and taking a photo of it and then sending it to all of your friends? This is now common practice. The cookbook has now become a living collaborative event.
To support this, a “homelike” kitchen for the boomer needs to have induction cooktops, wine refrigerators and Wi-Fi (to support all the cooking apps and connected cooking technology), easy access storage for items to cook with that you would normally see in a 5 star restaurant kitchen. They also need to be able to entertain or do performance cooking like you see on Rachel Ray, Emeril Lagasse or Paula Dean.
As the Italians say, “to eat well, is to live well.”
While flexibility is key to what boomers want as “homelike”, it can’t be watered down so much that you negate having spaces that are personalized. This is the age segment that embraced their creativity and freedom. They took hobbies from a utilitarian aspect sewing a button on or working on your car because it was cheaper to a more creative side. For boomers a hobby or artistic expression does not have to add value to the world or others but only serve to feed their soul. It may be an artist studio, garden space, library, garage or other space but the point is it feeds the soul and is there for that sole purpose.
Lisa Cini, ASID, IIDA is an award-winning, internationally-recognized designer with more than 25 years’ experience developing interiors that improve quality of life for seniors and help us all deal with aging parents and prepare for our own future living experience. Author of BOOM: The Baby Boomers Guide to Leveraging Technology, so that you can Preserve Your Independent Lifestyle & Thrive, The Future is Here: Senior Living Reimagined, and Hive: The Simple Guide to Multigenerational Living, based on her social experiment of living in a 4-generation household and the positive impact design can have in a home for seniors with dementia. As a boomer living designer, Lisa, searches the world for the best technology to help people age in place and brings them all together on: www.BestLivingTech.com.