“Resi-mercial Design”: How Banko Design Makes Commercial Spaces Feel Like Home

At banko design, we’ve perfected translating the residential into the commercial.

Marietta, Georgia-based with projects nationwide. Unmatched interior design from start to finishes.

Developers, do you ever struggle to make your spaces feel “at home” while you balance the performance needs of your commercial interiors? You’re not alone. You want everything from your fixtures, furniture and floors to stand out—that’s how you’ll draw customers—but, you need these pieces to be functional and continue to perform over time even with regular traffic.

So how does one give soul to a commercial space? That’s where our team comes in. Almost a decade ago, our Principal and Founder Melissa Banko coined the term “resi-mercial” to describe that in-between space where comfort meets quality. The resi-mercial space infuses residential touches with human-scaled furniture across multifamily communities, boutique hotels, senior living spaces and more, unlocking a new understanding of coziness in commercial spaces.

The beauty of this approach is in its interior design selections, from finishes to furniture and accessories. Everything is curated to inject the space with life, personality and a “lived-in” quality, making it feel like it’s someone’s carefully maintained home. The process is an art and a science that we not only developed, we perfected.

We give our clients a commercial interior solution that’s not cookie-cutter commercial. Just smart cookie.


Let’s break down “resi-mercial” and why each piece matters.

  • Dorothy knew what she was talking about. There’s no place like home. That feeling is essential. People feel good in places that have warmth and feel welcoming.
  • Elements of interior design feel more quality. They’re more curated and cared for, and people can tell the difference from something that feels cold and “commercial,” especially in a new-build setting.
  • People live in your spaces. If the residential vibe is missing, folks will quickly look for somewhere more inviting and comfy.

“Mercial” = Commercial

  • The interior design needs to withstand commercial use. That means high traffic, heavy use, commercial-grade cleaning, and everyday living.
  • The space must also act like a contract space (because it is one). We can’t get away with many of the architectural “shortcuts” that a residential project may have.

You can’t sacrifice too much of either or the space will underwhelm. At Banko Design, we implement the impeccable: fabrics that don’t feel cheap or plasticky, but are still cleanable or bleachable; lighting that is soft, appropriate and inviting, but still functional and bright enough to see; flooring that looks like it’s part of a fine home, but is a cinch to clean. And it has to have spark. Banko Design spaces are all about not just looking the part, but feeling it too.


The proof is in the pudding. Here are a few resi-mercial success stories in the real world.

The Church Hill Village is an assisted living and memory care community in Newtown, CT. When it comes to Senior Living, the resi-mercial touch is especially important for a number of parties. First, of course, the residents. But it’ll certainly make an impression on the caregivers and family members who may be making decisions on behalf of a loved one.

Our design approach for Church Hill Village was to bring a chic family cottage feel to this brand new building, which sits in part of the site’s farmland. The decor was infused with farmers market finds and freshened up with some modern flair. Add on a custom oversized quilt at the entry made by a local artisan, quirky vintage accessories, pastoral artwork, and “cottagecore”-inspired drapery patterns, and the resi-mercial recipe made Church Hill feel like home.

Our work with Cadence at Olney, a senior living community in Olney, MD, was all about neo-classic coziness. From warm brick walls to terracotta tile flooring, we outfitted the community while staying true to the authenticity of the area. Millwork detailing, comfy leather-look seating, multiple fireplaces, judge’s paneling, even porcelain china-inspired artworks were included to drive the point home. This community feels like Thanksgiving dinner with the whole family without sacrificing senior-friendly design concepts.

Our furniture line with Fairfield captures the timeless beauty of residential furniture with added accessibility features. The line lends itself perfectly to senior living comfort design, but is contemporary enough to be a crowd favorite anywhere.


Since the “aha!” moment, when we realized there was a huge void between residential and commercial design only few could fill, we’ve taken the helm as leaders in the “resi-mercial” sphere. In a lot of ways, it’s been our calling card over the past decade. To this day, no one does it like we do. Our passion for residential design’s attention to detail is conveyed in a way that works in favor of developers, REITs and real estate investors (not to mention their bottom lines).

We’re ready and excited to work with you. Interior design of any space is a serious investment, so we’ll make the most of any budget.

Ready to join the resi-mercial revolution? Reach out to us at, and let’s live it up.

Keywords: commercial interior design, commercial real estate, senior living interior design, Atlanta interior design, 2024 interior design trends, commercial interior design studio, multifamily interior design, hospitality interior design


Does Your Country Club Look Like All the Rest? Time for an Interior Design Refresh with Banko Design

Marietta, Georgia-based with projects nationwide. Unmatched interior design from start to finishes.

When thinking about obtaining—or retaining—members for your country club, where does your mind go? Perhaps it’s the amenities, the prices or even the menu. The savviest will ask themselves another question: What will set us apart from everyone else?

One of the most distinct ways to stand out: your club’s interior design. For the best country clubs, members view their membership as a point of pride. The club reflects its members and vice versa. That’s why a strategic, thoughtful and professional country club interior design could make all the difference in courting and keeping club members.

No one wants to be—or belong to—the country club that looks like all the others (it’s far too common amongst upscale leisure environments). To avoid this, it’s time to consider a refresh. Let’s break down how a revamped interior from Banko Design can transform your country club into a must-belong destination.


Welcome and wow. These are your priorities the moment a member or prospect enters your club. The look and feel should instantly set the tone for the rest of the club and speak to the character of the entire property, regardless of whether your members prefer a more modern aesthetic or embrace a more traditional, classic country club atmosphere. The clubhouse needs to be an inviting social space, not something clinical or bland.

If you currently feel a lack of spark when guests and members walk through the door, that should trigger a red flag in your mind. Let a seasoned firm help you re-discover a joyful, unique arrival moment that says, “Enjoy yourself and stay awhile.” Anything flat or uninteresting could pervade throughout the entire club.

At Banko Design, we got our start in country club design, and know how to make the most of that first impression.


Country clubs are full of specific, dedicated spaces which often include member lounges, private dining spaces, grills, fitness areas, golf clubhouses and more. Each space has (or should have!) a function, and each has a form ripe for savvy and strategic interior design. What professional interior design firms accomplish goes far beyond furniture selections. At Banko Design, we reimagine spaces to enhance their purpose, curating a style befitting of the club and its members, and innovating in a way that truly stands out.

Banko Design can take any space in your country club and, in lockstep collaboration with your operations team, completely revitalize it. Keeping member experience top of mind, we’ll work together to envision how every space can be stylized and better utilized. We’ll lean into the purpose of each room, giving it a fresh flow of functionality.

Your members deserve more than an interior decorator. A full-service design firm like Banko Design, equipped with the right know-how, experience and resources, makes it their mission to uncover your needs and refit each space from start to finish.

At Banko Design, we work alongside our in-house procurement team, which is a huge advantage for our country club clients. It means:

  • We can supply and outfit the furniture, fixtures and equipment for your project
  • We handle negotiations with manufacturers to get you the very best pricing
  • We confirm material availability and work with your construction timeline
  • Our dedicated team places all the orders and schedules the installation, which means more clarity into the project timeline, zero logistical headache for you to manage, and a stunning, completely turnkey project you get to take credit for executing.

We do all of this to help minimize costs and keep your project running on time. In-house procurement is uncommon in the industry; but we pride ourselves on thinking outside the box (and outside the room).


Everyone loves a trend, but trends end (it is right there in the word). Applying a hot new design trend to your club runs a high risk of feeling stale or outdated as soon as it’s passed, which usually isn’t long.

We feel that private club decor should be timeless. That doesn’t necessarily mean the club should be traditional – in fact, many of the clubs we have designed skew modern. It means the design principals at their core have staying power, with an eye for quality and a stylistic stamina that can endure any era. The best clubs transcend a trend, blending a thoughtful design with local flavor that represents the club’s geography, membership and history. Implementing these elements into your design decisions will be meaningful to your members and staff, creating a deeper sense of belonging, importance and taste.

The magic formula for the perfect interior design is different for each club.Banko Design is the spellbinder, expertly-versed in every aspect of decor and design that can bring your club’s story and style to life. Whether you’re aiming for more of a luxury club decor, a prestigious club ambiance, something contemporary or something completely distinctive, we’ll give it the right touch that won’t just stand the test of time, it’ll stand out on its own. Simply put, our work lasts longer, which makes your dollar go further.


Interior design is a serious investment. That’s why we treat your budget like our own, and stay conscious about it every step of the journey. We love having conversations around budget early and often because we know the last thing you want to do is pass the bill onto your members or announce a surprise assessment.

Together, we’ll devise a plan that’s smart, sound and savvy. One that gets you excited(!); one that you can’t wait for your members to experience and prospects to see. You’ll be amazed at what we can come up with for any budget. We have transformed spaces with impeccably appointed materials, paint, lighting and furniture updates.

We’re driven to make your project happen and to deliver design that makes you happy.


An interior design refresh isn’t just a cosmetic update. It’s a strategic investment that can skyrocket the club’s success. To become a more desirable destination for members, guests and prospects, you’ll need to:

  • Wow at the welcome
  • Be smarter with spaces and styles
  • Blend the club’s DNA into a timeless design
  • Maximize the possibilities in your budget

At the end of your renovation, you’ll be the envy of clubs everywhere. 

Banko Design’s roots are in country club interior design. Since, we’ve branched into different verticals including the hospitality, multifamily, and active adult markets, which allows us to apply the best practices we’ve learned from each of those markets. Possibly the greatest advantage, is that this approach gives us a sharp eye and understanding on what fixtures, prestige club furnishings, fabrics and finishes can handle high-traffic areas while still providing a warm, inviting, and original feel to the space. In other words, we bring the best of everything to improve your space (and ROI).

A new-look interior can help your country club become more relevant and vibrant while appealing to a diverse member base. These members talk. What do they think they’re saying about the current state of your club’s interior design?

Reach out to us at and let’s work together on a refreshed vision for your country club.

Keywords: country club interior design, country club real estate, clubhouse interior design, Atlanta interior design, 2024 interior design trends, commercial interior design studio


What Your Multifamily Development SHOULD Look Like

How can you maximize your ROI on your multifamily development? In today’s market, an apartment property needs to stand out to attract and retain residents. The developments that get top dollar in rents always have the following in common: they understand and meet the needs of their target resident through thoughtful amenities and intentional interior design.

Here are the principles of what makes a multifamily development successful for you AND your residents:


The interior design plays a major part in setting up your multifamily project for success. Your residents want to live somewhere they can feel proud of (and will happily show off to their friends in-person and online, boosting your brand awareness and sales). Here are the top tips to consider when designing for multifamily:

Make it look high-end for “less”. The right multifamily interior designer can specify materials and finishes that look much more “expensive” than they really are. We can be smart with the FF&E choices (and your budget) in order to provide the luxury look your residents crave.

Include creative design elements that attract today’s renter without being overly trendy. What our clients have been raving about recently? Consider including an “Instagram-able” moment in your multifamily development’s interior design – great for social media, and great for sales. Instead of being “trendy”, design for longevity – from the time it takes for the development to be built, remember that many “trends” will pass within a few years.

Tie into the local history or culture. When residents are touring multifamily properties, they can all start to blend together. Stand out from your competing apartment communities by tying in local influences into the art, accessories, or FF&E. When designing the Cove at Covington, a multifamily development in Covington, Georgia, that has a history as a crafting and textile hub, bold spool art and a custom toile wallcovering that includes local landmarks was incorporated (pictured above).

It also makes a difference when the interior designers and architects communicate to create a cohesive space. It’s important to design spaces with just the right amount of volume – and bigger spaces are not always better. At The Crest at Acworth, a multifamily development in Acworth, Georgia, the interiors speak to the modern, lodge-style architectural design and include large timbers, stacked stone, and board and batten (pictured below). The interior programming plays with large and small volumes, creating both grand entertaining areas and intimate, cozy gathering spaces.


In short, a successful multifamily development needs amenities that match the needs of the modern resident. The amenities are the first thing future residents see and if they don’t like it, there’s a chance it won’t sell.

So, what are the lifestyle needs of the modern resident? Coworking spaces. Soundproof rooms for content creators. Outdoor spaces for pets. Gathering spaces for entertaining guests or hosting events.

Entertaining is important to the typical age demographic for multifamily properties, and incorporating unique entertaining spaces – like the game room at the Cove at Covington with a large garage door that opens to the pool deck, providing a seamless transition from the outside in – is key to a development’s success.

Plus, it’s always exciting when clients want to stay on top of the latest technologies and incorporate them into the community. Stay ahead of the curve (and above the competition) by considering Uber pickup/drop off zones, refrigerators for grocery deliveries, or retail spaces (how about a coffee house?) in the lobby area. Don’t forget – amenities can be classified as “services”, too, such as laundry pick-ups, dog walking, or meal-delivery services.


An often overlooked space in multifamily interior design? The model units – a critically important component of the design. This is NOT the place to skimp on the budget! These spaces are where the residents envision how they would use and decorate their space, picturing what it could be like to live there.

The furniture, art, and accessories displayed in the model unit could make or break a potential resident’s decision. Make sure your model units feel “full” and remember to accessorize the smaller spaces like the closets, laundry, and bathrooms.

In addition, sprucing up your model units with new FF&E in a pre-existing development can help you stay competitive. A quick FF&E refresh could make a big difference in increasing occupancy and sales!

Overall, a successful multifamily development should prioritize the interior design, thoughtful and modern amenities, and thoroughly designed model units. Adhering to these principles during the planning process, developers can create and maintain vibrant communities that enhance residents’ quality of life while also benefiting the surrounding area with the help of an experienced interior designer.

The team at Banko Design are experts at multifamily interior design, designing spaces that maximize your ROI. Our command of material applications, budgets, and our thoughtful approach to amenity space planning are just the beginning.

Want to have your multifamily development be the star around town? Reach out to us at to get started!

Keywords: multifamily interior design, multifamily real estate, multifamily development, Atlanta interior design, 2024 interior design trends, commercial interior design studio


Three Interior Design Trends We Predict Will FLOP in 2024

Interior design trends come and go, and what was once in Vogue can quickly become outdated. As we look ahead to 2024 – and as you’re planning your next development – it’s essential to identify the interior design trends that are well on their way out. In this blog post, we’ll explore three interior design trends that will FLOP in 2024, making room for more exciting and innovative approaches to interior decor.


Cool-Toned Palettes with Lots of Grey

For years, cool palettes dominated interior design, with…shall we say fifty?…shades of grey taking center stage. While these subdued tones can create a serene atmosphere, they have become ubiquitous and – frankly – make us a little sad. In 2024, we anticipate a greater shift away from the grey-dominated color schemes in favor of the infusion of bold, more vibrant hues. Top developers will seek to inject energy and personality into their spaces, opting for warmer, more inviting color palettes that evoke emotion and promote creativity.

All Things Boho or Farmhouse

Bye, bye boho and life on the farm. The boho and farmhouse design styles have had their moment in the spotlight, but they’re losing their appeal in 2024. These interior design trends often emphasized a cluttered, mismatched aesthetic that can feel chaotic and overwhelming (especially with what we’re learning about the psychological impact of our home environments). People are increasingly seeking an experience that feels more sophisticated and intentional. Instead of the eclectic mishmash of boho or the rustic simplicity of farmhouse, the market is returning to a more cohesive and thoughtfully curated interior design style with special attention paid to utilizing statement-making, quality finishes.

Overly Minimalistic Interiors

Minimalism has been a prominent design trend in recent years, characterized by its clean lines and a “less-is-more” philosophy. However, minimalistic spaces can often look underdressed and unfinished. As we look ahead to 2024, overly minimalistic interiors are falling out of favor. While simplicity and functionality are essential, people are craving spaces that are exciting, personality-filled, and intentionally set a mood in the built environment.

So, what interior design trends should we expect to see in 2024?


Bold Interiors Driven by a Strong Narrative

In 2024, interior designers will focus on creating spaces that tell a compelling story. Creating a strong brand for your current property or next real estate development has never been more crucial. Creating a narrative and adding personalization with unique touches will become essential, allowing for more diverse and expressive interior styles. Anticipate richer color palettes, dramatic FF&E moments, and ample architectural detailing. 

Hyper-Local Design Concepts

People are increasingly valuing locally sourced materials and unique, region-specific design elements. Hyper-local design concepts will take center stage, celebrating the culture and heritage of a particular area in interior decor. Commercial interior designers will take cues from residential architecture in the neighborhoods where projects are being developed so their design feels part of the local fabric.

Organic Forms and Shapes

In contrast to the rigid lines of minimalism, organic forms and shapes will gain popularity in 2024. Curved furniture, flowing lines, and nature-inspired design elements will infuse spaces with a sense of harmony and fluidity. Instead of covering up any material “flaws” or inconsistencies, designers may seek to showcase the inherent beauty of the items’ unique properties.

In conclusion, as we bid farewell to the trends of cool palettes, the boho and farmhouse aesthetics, and extreme minimalism, we welcome a new era of interior design marked by bold narratives, hyper-local influences, and organic forms. These evolving trends promise to make 2024 an exciting year for interior design enthusiasts, allowing for more creativity, individuality, and a deeper connection to the spaces we inhabit.

As a commercial interior design studio specializing in the multifamily, hospitality, active adult, and senior living interior design markets, Banko Design knows what’s current and what trends are coming in the design market. We’re not afraid to push the envelope and bring innovative, sophisticated, and personality-filled designs to your development. We understand the importance of creating a strong narrative and how defining a brand for your property is essential to standing out in the market (and have even welcomed a branding team to the fold – look out for those new services!). 

Partner with us today, and let’s kick off 2024 with a bold, personalized-to-your-market BANG! To get started on the interior design for your next development, reach out to

Keywords: interior design trends, 2024 interior design trends, commercial interior design studio, multifamily interior design, hospitality design trends, active adult interior design, senior living interior design


How Banko Design Sets Up Your Project for Success

As we continue the adventure of designing and developing hospitality, senior living, active adult, and multifamily communities, Banko Design recognizes more than ever the importance of your projects receiving a high degree of attention – from conceptual design all the way through installation. Try as you might to protect yourself and your company, there may have been disappointments that left a sting. Several of our clients come to us because they appreciate the level of attention and experience our team brings. They’ve gone to pricey, big-name firms in the past (not to name names) and did not receive the same Principal-level engagement and input – our boutique-level of service – they find at Banko Design.

Though standard questions around our team’s bandwidth have always been a part of a potential client’s due diligence, we have noticed (perhaps in part due to current headlines surrounding shifting hiring practices and increasing layoffs) this line of questioning has become more intensive, evolving from, “Do you have the bandwidth?” to in many cases, “No really, WHO exactly on your team will be working on my project?” 

At Banko Design, we are your partner, and the success of your project is critically important to us, too. Let us show you how we set up your project for success by diving into the who, how, and why behind our staffing process.

What you need to know? We take a “boutique” approach to design. To us that means from concept to installation and every phase in between, we offer best-in-class customer service, a thoughtful design approach curated to the project’s specific needs, and a level of documentation unseen elsewhere in the industry. Your design team provides you with quick and consistent communication, presents solutions instead of challenges, and we guarantee that our interior design leadership works on your project through all phases of design.

When a project is officially kicked off, we introduce our client to their Project Lead. This talented team member becomes the primary point of contact, and they are responsible for spearheading the design and managing communications from start to end, including through procurement and installation with our sister company, Red Pen Procurement. Because we’re hyper-focused on making your project a success and the design completed in the time you need it, we also have a well-established review process in place before any deliverables ever leave our studio.

Something unique about us? We’re not afraid of tight deadlines, thanks largely to our depth on the bench. All our designers on staff are trained to work cross-functionally across all the verticals we service – senior living, active adult/55+, multifamily, and hospitality. No silos here. This difference allows us to staff more readily, instills more creativity in our designers, and creates stronger projects by implementing best practices from a variety of markets. The cross-training also helps should a project’s tight timeline require additional support to meet an aggressive deadline. Further, our leadership team here is constantly forecasting workload to determine whether hiring additional team members to accommodate an anticipated workload is warranted. They are entrenched in each phase, providing constant guidance and mentorship.

Between our Founder, Melissa Banko, Principal, Betsy Distler, Studio Director, Jamie Culpepper, and other leaders, we have a whopping 104 years of combined design experience (though they’d kill us if they knew we published that number.)

To give a sampling of just how deep our leaders’ “bench strength goes,” let us give you a peek into their well-established experience:

Our Boss Lady: Melissa Banko

Melissa, THE dreamer, is a graduate of The Art Institute of Atlanta where she earned a BFA in Interior Design. Prior to founding Banko Design, she worked in the interiors department at prominent firms in the industry. Melissa’s passion for interior design has distinguished her as an industry expert and advocate. As an avid supporter of Alzheimer’s causes and Autism Awareness, Melissa prioritizes community outreach and giving back. She mentors interns and serves as an advisor and juror for interior design students at various universities.

As Founder and Principal of Banko Design, Melissa oversees the day-to-day operations of our team of designers, interior architects, purchasing agents, warehouse staff, and office personnel. Under Melissa’s guidance, Banko Design provides an unparalleled level of design, service, and efficiency for our clients. Since Melissa has such strong relationships with our clients, she builds teams to fulfill the client’s vision and assembles the team that fits your project type best. She has her eyes on everything and is heavily involved in every phase of the design process to make sure we are meeting our client’s expectations. Nothing leaves without the head honcho’s blessing!

Our Principal Extraordinaire: Betsy Distler

As an Interior Architect with 25+ years of experience, Betsy’s expertise bridges the divide between architecture and interiors. With experience at large and boutique design firms, Betsy brings a wealth of design and studio leadership knowledge to the Banko team. Betsy is a professional and positive mentor to younger staff and her in-depth technical knowledge and passion for great design allows her to bring a unique perspective to each project.

As principal, she supports overall project health. If you don’t know it, then Betsy does! With her robust architecture background, she is a great resource for our design team for all questions about construction and coordination with fellow architects. She is a CA guru who implements quality standards, project procedures, team communications, and technical detailing across our senior living, active adult, multifamily, and hospitality projects.

Our Dedicated Studio Director: Jamie Culpepper

Coming in hot with 18+ years of experience is our studio director, Jamie Culpepper. Her extensive portfolio ranges from international work with world-renowned hotel brands to domestic projects with independent ownership groups. Jamie’s degree in Interior Design from Florida State University, NCIDQ certification, and her comprehensive experience has made her instrumental in leading the studio.

As Banko’s Studio Director, Jamie manages quality control of others, mentors the junior designers in best practices, and guides projects from beginning to end. Jamie helps oversee all things in the studio and those that make up our amazing design team. Jamie is the team builder, the team supporter, and the team cheerleader. She redlines all our drawings and supports designers to help them maintain internal and external deadlines.

Our Passionate Project Manager Director: Alexa Blackwell

With expertise across a range of verticals, Alexa is the eyes and ears of our timelines and an interior designer proficient in project planning, scheduling, and oversight. She reigns supreme in our studio with a decisive leadership style and creative approach to solving problems. As Project Manager Director, she uses her 20+ years of experience and knowledge to provide unique leadership and skills to the design team.

Our Devoted QC Manager and BIM Specialist: Christie Berkowitz

Having worked across Georgia in a variety of studios, Christie lends great knowledge and background to the Banko Design team. In her role as QC Manager, she helps to manage construction documentation, review drawings for quality assurance, and supports staff in consultant coordination while mentoring team members on company standards, codes, and ADA guidelines. She is also responsible for managing Banko Design’s BIM template.

What makes so much of the work by our leaders and day-to-day team even more special is our in-house procurement agency, Red Pen Procurement. How this helps you? Working closely with preferred vendors allows us to provide the best pricing, passing the benefits of BIG buying power back to our clients.

As the industry continues to struggle with longer lead times and construction timelines, our procurement team is equipped to handle the headaches for you. The Red Pen Procurement team shares an open studio space with our designers, which allows us to check in on items early and often to ensure the delivery timeline fits your project schedule.

So, there you have it. We mean what we say when we tell you we’ve got you covered. You can count on us to provide you with an experienced team who will be with you through the entire project, with multiple quality checks and clear communication along the way.

What you need to know? We support you every step of the way through your project.

Have a project that needs a dedicated staff of talented team members? We have the bandwidth and would love to work with you. Reach out to us at to get started!


Keywords: boutique interior design firm, interior design firm, senior living, active adult, hospitality, multifamily, senior living interior design, active adult interior design, hospitality interior design, country club interior design, boutique hospitality, interior design staff, staffing, staff map, staff management, interior design leadership, leadership, efficiency, design process, design development phase, communication, cost effective, success, cross training, FF&E, boutique hospitality interior design,


How Banko Design is Changing the Aging Game Through Senior Living Design

Senior living design is on the verge of big change. If you’re developing senior living, active adult communities, or any other retirement spaces, you need the 411 on today’s 55-and-up. From technology and wellness to comfort and amenities, today’s seniors have high hopes for their quality of life — as they should!

What that means for you, as a developer, is this: The bar has been raised. Seniors — and their families — have high expectations for their living arrangements.

Up for the challenge? Banko Design will help you match those needs with bold, top-notch senior living interior design built to last. Read on to learn how, together, we can serve seniors and their families by giving them what they want and more.

Today’s seniors and what makes them different

Let’s talk baby boomers… aka, today’s seniors. Baby boomers are entering the senior living market and have already begun the search for the perfect retirement community for themselves, their parents, or other aging relatives. This is your target market, so it’s our target market. (Your customers are our customers, your house is our house. You catch the drift).

These seniors have a new set of needs and wants. This is the first generation that has spent a few decades immersed in a world of technology. They’ve experienced wellness in new and countless ways. They’re looking for cleanability, durability, and a wellness experience that supports them physically, mentally, and socially. They’re also looking for a resort-style experience with thoughtful amenities and gathering spaces, plus concierge services to aid them.

With Banko Design, the amenities of multifamily interior design meet senior living and care — making the aging process seamless and giving seniors the amenities they desire and the care they need.

You, as a developer, have a mighty mission to serve the needs of this aging population. Interior design for senior living needs to bring wellness, comfort, and community together. You need senior living design experts who spark joy and create impact, while also focusing on functionality for your target market. That’s us. Banko Design is resident-first and ready to go.

What your senior living interior design needs to accomplish

Everything you do comes back to the way you live. *Gestures grandly*

As seniors age, quality of life takes on a new meaning. When folks move into senior living, they step into the next season of life. No matter what the transition looks like for them, whether they’re entering independent living, assisted living, or memory care communities, they should feel at home.

That means the couch they sit on during Bingo Night, the comfort of their chair when they sip coffee with friends, and how easily they can move around their unit and community. It’s considering transit times from their unit to the primary amenities and creating purposeful areas to rest or congregate along the way.

Senior living developers have to make inviting spaces that address big needs. Senior living design encompasses assisted living design, independent living design, and memory care design, all of which come with their own set of operational and functional needs for residents and staff. Banko Design helps you tailor your designs to your development — like finding ways to cleverly hide your assisted living mobility accommodations or carving out special recreational spaces to put the “independent” in your independent living design.

Today, seniors and their caregivers have a lot of options. The way to win them over? Interior design that brings them comfort, wellness, community, and resort-level amenities.

Empowering wellness for seniors

Well, well, well. It’s no surprise that wellness and health are at the forefront of seniors’ minds these days. Today’s seniors want to be active, mentally healthy, social, and close to their families.

Banko Design creates spaces that empower wellness — and we’re revolutionizing wellness for seniors as a whole. We recognize that seniors are much more “with the times” these days. Their taste is premium but accessible — so we create spaces that are sophisticated and elegant, never stuffy or dated. They want to live a modern life, so we keep our designs fresh and contemporary yet timeless with a whole lot of WOW. They know and use technology, and we incorporate that into the design.

Banko Design is up to speed on the latest trends, but we also know how to create spaces that have longevity in the market. As a developer, you’ll have long-lasting designs that don’t end up dated before your CDs are issued.

Creating comfort all around

Comfort is a no-brainer no matter who you’re designing for. Backless, stiff chairs? Get out of here. With seniors, comfort takes on a new definition. Even though our upcoming wave of baby boomer seniors will be more social and active, they’ll still spend a good amount of time in the community’s living and dining spaces. Comfort is key.

Furniture can make or break the comfort of a space. It needs to be thoughtfully curated to support proportions and mobility (no super-low chairs, here!). With functionality for seniors in mind, Banko Design has created a bespoke furniture line, BD Collection for Fairfield.

We couldn’t find it in the market — so we built it. We designed furniture pieces that are residential in style but commercial in durability and functionality. Thoughtfully designed for seniors, you’ll see that the arms and chair grips are larger and the seats are wider and taller — perfectly proportioned to support the stability and mobility of aging residents. Each piece in the Fairfield collection comes in a wide variety of fabrics and finishes to fit the design aesthetic of your community.

At Banko, we design for comfort for two parties — your residents and your staff. Communal spaces need to be functional, navigable, and aesthetic for your seniors. At the same time, your space needs to support the operational needs of your staff. In the early stages of our design process, we’ll get an understanding of a typical day for your residents and staff so we can make your space comfy, cozy, and functional.

Building a community that matters

Everyone needs social time to feel happy, healthy, and fulfilled. It’s especially important for aging seniors who have just gone through a big life transition. As a developer, your design plan should make community-building effortless — for your senior clientele and your staff. The interior design can support your operations team in fostering community within the property.

We design with the building in mind. How will residents move around? Where can we create a central spot to encourage meet-and-greets? Can we make a recreational room for painting lessons and game nights? The senior living community you develop is about to become someone’s new home. How can you serve seniors with a stunning design that makes their building feel like a real community? How can you dignify seniors through the programming and design of the buildings? That’s our job, and we own it proudly.

Level up your senior living design with Banko

We’re not just here for high-end design and top-notch space-making. We’re here for that, but we’re also here to drive change and advocate for the aging generation and their caregivers. Banko’s design approach is resident-first and resi-mmercial. Always. We create spaces that are residential in style — timeless, inviting spaces that feel like home — while also specifying commercial-grade materials that perform over time.

New construction, renovation, and FF&E refresh projects = our specialties. Our command of budgets and schedules means that, together, we can curate thoughtful designs that are delivered on-time and guarantee longevity in the market. (Meaning, irresistible interiors for your target resident for years to come.) Bonus: Our procurement agency is in-house, so we’ll work with you from the initial design concept to final furniture installation when it’s go time.

Ready to take the next step? Set up a phone chat with Banko — and let the designing begin.

Email to get started on your next senior living project.

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From Melissa’s Desk: The Banko Design Story

I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up.

After high school, I hopped around and tried out different majors and different colleges for almost four years. It wasn’t until I was helping some friends move, space plan, and renovate their first homes that it clicked – this was FUN and it came naturally to me…I loved it! My mom recommended I go to art school, and I discovered, “Wait…you can enjoy learning?”

I prayed to find my passion, and I received my answer when I found and fell IN LOVE with interior design.

Graduating with my interior design degree wasn’t the start of a glamorous design career – I worked my ass off. In my jobs after I graduated, I stayed at the office until midnight most nights. I was a young mom – I actually got pregnant with my daughter my first year of art school – and my husband would drop her off at the office at eight o’clock at night on his way to work. She would sleep under my desk until I finished my day. The phrase “work from home” didn’t exist at the time, and no grace was given to working mothers. When I had my second child, I had to breastfeed in a storage closet because there was no dedicated mother’s area and no flexibility in my schedule to be with a newborn at home.

It was when I was pregnant with my third that I realized, “How much of my personal life am I going to lose if I continue like this, even as much as I love design?”

I had no control over my schedule. I didn’t feel like I had a voice. I didn’t feel like I had a long-term path at the firm I was dedicating so much time to. It felt like I had to make a choice between family and career.

So, it was time for a change.

I had BIG ideas – I wanted to expand the verticals I was working in, to choose the clients I worked for and serve them in an even bigger way. I wanted to include purchasing within an interior design firm, and eventually build a procurement agency. I wanted a place to grow and thrive as a woman, as a mom, and as a big thinker. A FUN work environment with energy and personality.

And in 2014, Banko Design was born.

I knew nothing about running a start-up business, but I knew I had the heart and talent to make it happen. I sought out smart people who could fill the gaps, and built a team who believed in the vision.

We started this company with all the hopes and dreams of creating a truly unique work culture, of creating a unique design process and new way of doing things, and of designing inspiring spaces for all to enjoy.

We built a company on doing things differently. On building all the things I wish I would have found early in my own career.

What started in a spare bedroom in my starter home has grown so much over the past 9 years – not only into a thriving interior design business, but has also expanded to include a procurement agency and a portfolio of interior design studios within BD Studio Collection.

It’s been our mission to serve people, support families, and constantly grow and improve. To be an interior design studio that takes a “resi-mmercial” approach to design with unapologetically smart designers who execute top-notch, next-level deliverables.

To be a place where everyone has a voice and a long-term path for growth, and a place where work-life balance is truly valued.

To be a lively studio full of energy and laughs, a place where dogs can roam, beer taps were responsibly used (yes, there’s one in our breakroom), and where bread was broken together.

We bring spark to our teammates and passion to our projects, and are invested in our clients’ and our brands’ success.

We are Banko Design. And I’m incomprehensibly grateful for every person who has helped us get to where we are today.

I’ve learned some valuable lessons along the way. This past year I was reminded that no matter how much you “plan”, you have to take life and business one step at a time. Growth is a process that comes with ups AND downs. We had some major “ups” – like catapulting into product development, building some of our best projects, and adding amazing women and studios to our portfolio! We were also met with some heartache and growing pains, but through it all we’ve learned the value of true partners, amazing clients, and finding your “right” people.

We have SO much on the horizon for this year! We are overjoyed with excitement, will continue to stay positive and strive to be a “light” in this industry, and we will work together to become stronger and stronger. It’s a “we” culture that brought us here, and together we’ll continue to succeed.

I cannot wait to see what 2023 brings.

Your Grateful and Enthusiastic Founder,

Melissa Banko















Are you ready to hire an interior design firm for your next project? Reach out to us at to get started!

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Banko Design 2023 Top ID Winner

Banko Design is proud to announce that we are a NEWH TopID WINNER⁠! 

We’re humbled to have been nominated alongside such incredible designers and talent, and we’re honored to be a part of NEWH, an organization that champions education and students. Although we love receiving awards, it is not why we do what we do. We do it because of the people we design for!

Thank you for supporting our team! 

Take a look at the projects we submitted to be considered for this award:

American House Oak Park
American House Oak Park is a new construction Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Memory Care senior living community in Illinois. The project includes seven levels with approximately 67,000 square feet of amenity space and 172 resident units. The property boasts five dining outlets, including three formal dining venues, bistro, and bar.  The Interior Design is inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s signature Prairie-Style Architecture, whose genesis is found in Oak Park. The custom bar features ebony wood tones with gold accents punctuating the contemporary details of the millwork.  Black and white mosaic tile flooring is coupled with white stone and brass metal accents that elevate the experience and nod to period that informs the design.   Simplistic yet sophisticated, the furniture features strong yet refined lines and is dressed in warm vinyl and menswear-inspired plaids.   Banko Design provided full Interior Design and Procurement services for this project, which will open late 2022.
Worldmark St. George
The St. George Vacation Resort completed a full renovation of its Typical, Penthouse, and Presidential units including casegoods, softgoods, and cabinets. The interior design was inspired by the thrill-seeking guest of the resort through its bright color scheme that couples rich earth tones with turquoise. The furniture features modern silhouettes with subtle accents of rope textures, geometric patterns, and smooth metals. Banko Design provided full Interior Design Services for the renovation, which completed in 2022.
Crowne Plaza
The Crowne Plaza in Kearney, NE is a new construction, 172 room hotel and conference center. Guestrooms offered by the property include king, double queen, and king suites.  The Interior Design is inspired by the city’s establishment as a crossroads of east/west migration beginning in the mid-1800’s, and the migration of sandhill cranes the city hosts each year. The color scheme brightens the space with subtle yellow tones against neutral greys, navy blues, and blacks. Catering to business and family travelers alike, the design matches the bustling and upbeat tempo of the city’s business economy, while remaining comfortable for families. Banko Design provided full Interior Design and Procurement services for this project.  

Are you ready to hire an interior design firm for your next hospitality project? Reach out to us at to get started!

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What You Need to Design A Successful Resort Property

Banko Design’s Approach to the Leisure Hospitality Market

We’re leaving summer days and heading into fall getaways – and when vacationers book their next retreat, they’ll be thinking about what went right – and what went wrong – at their previous destination’s property. Travelers in this niche of the leisure hospitality market are seeking an extended stay, spending a week or weeks at a time at their vacation rental or timeshare. They’re looking for a “home away from home”, a place where they can relax and reset that also functionally fits their needs as a traveling family, a group of adventurers, or a pair of retirees. And, more recently, vacationers are actively choosing boutique-style experiences, preferring unique, authentic to the area, and culturally-enriching properties to the average hotel.

So, how do we design spaces that meet the needs of today’s travelers – functioning well, creating memorable experiences, and – as a result – booking out your vacation ownership properties?  

Creating Experience Driven Design

When designing the interiors of vacation ownership and destination properties, Banko Design uses the “experience-driven” design approach. We thoughtfully craft the interior design of each project to enhance the memories guests make offsite. The location and the demographic visiting are the major keys to this approach.

The location drives the design style and material selections during our creative process. The surrounding landscape or culture of the city influences the color palettes, textures, decorative materials, and furniture that make up the space (including flooring, fabrics, lighting, tile, art, etc.). The guests feel like the interiors are an extension of what they’re experiencing outside of the property, fully immersing in them in an authentic, cultural experience. Plus, we ensure the durability of the materials and furniture match the climate of the area, selecting sturdy tile for sandy feet or warm fabrics for snowy nights.

Experience-driven design also considers the type of vacationer visiting your destination. Are you designing for families with young children? A group of thrill-seeking young adults? Retirees with accessibility concerns? Our design team customizes each space to the story of the people visiting each location.

Recently, we designed a hospitality project in Utah geared towards adventurers, pulling inspiration from the outdoorsy activities the mountainous area is known for. In Florida we designed a vacation ownership property for young families visiting the beach, ensuring all the materials could withstand the saltwater, sand, and rough play of excited children. And, we’re currently designing a property for the senior vacationer in Washington, focusing on the historic charm of the town as inspiration and creating a slower, more leisurely experience for them to enjoy.

A Space to Create Lifelong Memories  

One of the reasons our team loves designing for the leisure hospitality market is because we’re forging spaces where lifelong memories are created. Our founder, Melissa Banko, remarked:

“My fondest memories as a kid were vacations with my family. We’d pack up the minivan and head to Florida for some quality, family time away from our day-to-day lives – it was magic! Memories are made with those you love – you just need a space that serves you well to house those memories. And that’s what we strive to create with hospitality design here at Banko Design.”

We use our personal experiences to design through the lens of a child experiencing a new adventure and as parents seeking fun, relaxation, and function. We carefully consider the needs and desires of all who invest in vacation rentals, vacation ownership properties, and the leisure hospitality industry.

Interior Design for the Leisure Hospitality Market  

Banko Design works with some of the biggest hospitality brands in the world, strategically designing and customizing each project to fit our clients’ needs and the desires of the guests who will stay there. Our “resi-mmercial” design style creates a “home away from home” experience, creating spaces that feel residential while being built for the longevity and durability of commercial use.

Our interior designers consider the level of detail, comfortable proportions, and timeless aesthetic inspired by residential design to create relaxing, inviting destination spaces. We also design for the functionality and versatility of the space, getting creative with our FF&E specifications and selecting dual-use items (such as wall panels that look like art but function as storage). These creative solutions surprise and delight our guests, and we hope inspire them for their own homes!

We collaborate with our clients every step of the way, ensuring we meet your brand and company’s goals (and have fun while doing it!!). We’re proud that we get to design spaces that create magical “time away” for individuals and families all over the world while partnering with you in development and asset improvement.

Are you ready to hire an interior design firm for your next hospitality project? Banko Design’s team are experts at designing new-build vacation ownership properties and hospitality renovations. Reach out to us at to get started!

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Multifamily Design: Designing in a High Market

In the past year, costs have continued to quickly rise in all areas of our economy – construction materials, home prices, typical commodities, you name it! In this month’s blog, we’re focusing on the impact that these rising construction costs and home prices have had on the multifamily industry and how we, as interior designers, can help.


According to a recent Washington Post article, a whopping 214,000 housing units were completed in buildings of 50 units or more in 2021 (the highest number than any year on record!). What makes this number especially impressive is that this growth occurred despite a hellacious year for builders that consisted of a combination of factors – rapidly rising material costs, labor shortages, and, of course, inflation.

Despite these added challenges, the multifamily building sector is still thriving and showing no signs of stopping. In fact, multifamily rental demands may climb even higher due to the raised mortgage-interest rates that are dampening the consumer appetite for single-family homes.

So far, our multifamily clients have compensated for rising construction and labor costs by increasing rents, but we’re reaching a point where many markets in the Southeast are hitting a ceiling. Developers and owners are increasing rents to cover the costs but how much higher can they really go?


So, the BIG question is how do we design a product that beats the property next door that was completed two years ago? We are creative and design outside the box to create a space on a budget that still feels and looks amazing!  Creating efficient floor plans and programs along with amenities that speak to quality over quantity. We design innovative and flexible spaces that will stay competitive for years to come! Get the biggest bang for your buck by how we dress the spaces up. How do we afford the same tile as last year? We bundle specs, buy in quantity, and negotiate the best pricing through our in-house agency, Red Pen Procurement. Through Red Pen, we can leverage our partnerships with our trusted vendors that we have built strong relationships with to get the best pricing.

We must ban together now more than ever! It’s time to get creative, and no one does it better than Banko Design and Red Pen Procurement. Banko and Red Pen take ownership of the entire process. We save owners money and time by doing it with less hands and in less time. Between the two of us, we do – branding, interior design, FF&E specifications, FF&E and materials procurement, we OWN our warehouses, we inventory manage, we own and manage trucks, AND we install. It’s a one-stop shop! Who else can do all of that in one company structure?


Our clients are always looking for ways to deliver the best product at the best cost but even more so in the past couple of years. As we mentioned, raising rents is one solution, but another common option is value engineering. Unfortunately, value engineering a project has become the new normal as pro formas increasingly get thrown off by continued construction cost creep. Our clients are constantly telling us, “We’re getting hit with costs from all sides!” And we get it, but we’ll let you in on a little secret- you’re not going to regain a $3MM deal by eliminating the amenity carpet!

Candidly, as designers we get a little sensitive when this topic is broached not because we don’t want to help our clients navigate this process but because the value engineering conversation largely happens without an interior designer in the room. Unsurprisingly, the interiors and FF&E package are often the first big ticket items to get pulled apart, which is a shame because the interior aesthetics of an apartment building can be a HUGE differentiator and may be the key decision-making factor for a potential resident. We want to do right by our clients and that’s why we’re advocating for letting interiors to be part of this conversation. We’ve been able to save the day (and the pro forma!) while designing smart, sexy interiors on a budget!

We recognize that rising construction costs have led to multifamily rent increases that many would argue have been pushed to their max. So how can we, as designers and architects, help you in a market with rising construction costs? Spec smart, leverage partnerships, and be the PROJECT’s biggest advocate!

Let us help you ensure your new development stays competitive to the market for years to come! Reach out to us by emailing