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


2021 Telethon Update

We wanted to thank our donors again for their generous contribution to Banko Design and iN2L’s 2nd annual Telethon event that raised over $80,000 for Community Development Volunteers for Technical Assistance (CDVTA) in Southwest Cameroon. We are so excited to share an update with you on what CDVTA has accomplished with the donations so far and what is on the horizon!


The student population of Government Bilingual High School (GBHS) Mbouda-Banock in the Region of West Cameroon is currently about 3,000 students. Prior to the donations, these children were attending class in makeshift thatch huts. 

With the help of our sponsors, CDVTA was able to build 2 structurally sound, concrete classroom buildings AND equipped them with 60 benches, 2 communal tables, 2 chairs, and 2 blackboards that will ensure at least 400 children can regularly attend classes in a safe and clean environment.

At the neighboring school in Foumbot, 6,000 students (65% of which are girls) lack the necessary hygiene conditions, primarily bathrooms, hindering them from attending school. Because of the donations, CDVTA was able to construct a brand-new bathroom facility, containing 4 separated, indoor toilets. While this may not sound exciting, this helps to reduce infectious diseases among students, especially girls, AND incentivizes children to attend school!


CDVTA again used funds to empower and support small farming households by training over 200 farmers in the Boyo Division in organic crop production. This training will continue to alleviate the food insecurity within the region and provide sustaining change to the Boyo region.

CDVTA staff and volunteers would like to thank Banko Design Firm, IN2L, and their Friends and Business partners who have generously contributed to the completion and full realization of the water project, implementation, and other aspects of the project. God bless you all.

We are thrilled to see the progress that our partners’ generosity has made in the villages of Northwest Cameroon. The donations have made a HUGE positive impact on the lives of disadvantaged children, women, and seniors. However, there is still so much more to be done! This year, CDVTA’s priority is to incentivize children to attend school by providing proper classrooms, supplies, and bathrooms for students and teachers.

To continue our support, we will be holding our 3rd Annual Telethon to raise funds for these CDVTA initiatives this fall! Follow us on social media to stay up to date with all of our community outreach efforts!

Interested in helping Cameroon now? Reach out to Emily at for how to donate!

Thank you for your support!
Banko Design, iN2L, & CDVTA


What is Boutique Hospitality?

When we say we service the “boutique hospitality,” what do we mean?

What do we really mean when we say boutique hospitality? Easy – rhymes with “unique”. Boutique hospitality means custom design that personifies the surrounding location and appeals to an owner’s target guest. We want these hotels to be more than just a place to rest your head after a long day of traveling, exploring, or meetings, we design them to be a destination themselves! A hotel’s design should authentically reflect the city, culture, and community in which it’s built. 

The biggest mistakes in hospitality design

Hospitality designers often make one big mistake when designing a hotel; they try to appeal to EVERYONE! This leaves the overall space feeling dull, unexciting, and typical. At times, traditional hotel design can even feel cold and impersonal with large lobbies, muted palettes, jarring lights, and oversized and overly contemporary furniture.

As a design firm that works with multiple large brands on a portfolio of work, we understand the value in standardizing certain finishes and, of course, specifying fabrics and furniture that maintain a high level of durability and cleanability. And, we are all about nailing the basics and working efficiently, but we don’t do “cookie-cutter.”  Whether business or pleasure, most guests are travelling to a new place with the hope of having a new experience. They will want to enjoy the local cuisine, see the popular attractions, and have new experiences, so why shouldn’t their hotel be an extension of that? We pride ourselves on designing our projects so that the hotel feels like a seamless addition to its surroundings and is a place that guests look forward to returning to after a long day.

How does Banko Design design differently?

We believe that the industry is doing themselves a disservice in making all their brand hotels look the exact same! When a hotel is mass produced, it also looks and feels increasingly commercial (and not in a good way)! We pride ourselves on our resimercial design ethos, residential in look and feel but commercial in scale and durability. Our timeless resimercial approach to design appeals greatly to leisure markets, “homes away from home” (vacation ownership rentals), custom lobbies, and clubhouses.

There are a variety of factors that draw a visitor to a hotel – central location, amenities, price, cleanliness etc. With so many to choose from, it is the attention to detail that will draw visitors in and keep them coming back. Specifically, visitors are drawn to hotels that reflect the city they’re visiting. This is why our team believes that immersion trips are an important step to a well-rounded design. Our team travels to the location of the community to see all the city has to offer – restaurants, hotels, residential areas, major attractions, etc. We use this trip as blueprint of where to start with our design. Every project starts with this foundation, and we build the design from there, layering in inspiration from the location’s history, landscape, vernacular architecture, and the direction the location is going (not just what it’s been). 

We believe that hospitality should feel warm and inviting, reflecting the service guests would like to experience. We create a sense of place and a level of intimacy in the lobbies and guestrooms by introducing rich colors, luxury finishes (that hold up), organic forms, and intentionally programmed spaces that feel appropriate no matter what level of property we’re designing for. Our team works closely with owners, developers, and brands to provide a design that targets their ideal guest.

As designers, we want to create a space that is a part of the overall destination experience for guests by creating a location-centric design, utilizing our expertise in the housing market to make the hotel feel luxurious yet comfortable, and taking a few risks here and there to make sure that your property stands out among the rest.

Do you need design help for your new build boutique hotel or perhaps your current property needs a refresh? We’d love to help! Reach out to us to chat by emailing!


The Hottest Up and Coming Vertical: Active Adult

For the past two years, the hottest topic in commercial real estate continues to center around the meteoric rise of the active adult market. This vertical is attractive to both investors and renters for a number of reasons, but the design of these spaces continues to mystify those looking to develop in this space. Is it a multifamily or senior living product? And just how does design differ from other verticals?

In this month’s blog post, we’re discussing active adult design and how Banko Design is leading the charge in this vertical.

So far, 2022 has been an incredibly auspicious year for us. We’re incredibly blessed to continue to do exciting work with fantastic clients. At the time of this blog’s publication, active adult makes up a whopping 45% of the new design projects we’ve started in this calendar year! Wowza.

Does that make us “active adult experts?” You can be the judge of that. Read on to hear more about our experience in this emerging vertical.


Our whole ethos here at Banko Design is to borrow best practices from each of our housing verticals – senior living, multifamily, and boutique hospitality – and apply those to our “resimercially” designed projects. Active adult (or age restricted, or age targeted) design is no different. Active adult is an attractive niche for our clients because they can often get premium rents by offering resort style amenities and marketing their properties as being more “luxe/exclusive/hospitality focused/etc.” than traditional market rate multifamily housing in the surrounding area.

It’s not as easy as applying the right semantics, however. Developers are also attracting older residents by choosing sites that leverage adjacent healthcare resources and amenities. Instead of taking on the overhead to provide these services in-house as is required in a senior care community, active adult developments offer the freedom of “a la carte” healthcare service that allows residents to access only what they need in terms of medical care just minutes from the property. This keeps rent prices much lower than the same prospective resident would find at a CCRC.

Something else to consider is the food and beverage program expectations at a senior care community versus active adult. This may surprise some, but we typically do not recommend commercial kitchens in active adult communities. In fact, let’s also eliminate formal dining rooms. What does this mean for developers and operators? No expectations of a defined F&B program on site. Rejoice!

Active adult residents want to feel sexy and in control. They’re hosting a dinner party with other residents in the clubhouse’s catering kitchen. They’re making dinner for their grandkids in their unit. They’re ordering Uber Eats or going out on the town. You get the picture.


Forget what you’ve heard about the “adult child” being the decision maker. The prospective renter is most often leading the charge and their motivations run the gamut whether they want a change of scenery, are looking to be closer to family and grandkids, or are just completely over the demands of home ownership.

What we especially love about the Active Adult vertical is how social the residents tend to be. Based on our extensive research and insight from clients pursuing the space, we’ve taken a more laissez-faire approach to active adult design. We shape great spaces that encourage socialization and then let the residents fill in the blanks. We focus on promoting socialization through design especially among mature adults because it’s proven to help prevent cognitive decline, improve emotional wellbeing, and reduce stress, which in turn leads to longer and healthier lives.

We do this by paying extra attention to the programming of clubrooms to ensure they aren’t over- compartmentalized but still function seamlessly for a number of activities whether residents plan to entertain, co-work, or stay active. We ask ourselves how residents will move through and interact with the property over the course of a day. We look at how the interiors and exteriors talk to each other and then capitalize on opportunities to better engage with the outdoors. Ultimately, we want these spaces to feel more like a social club than anything else while still being mindful that the amenity footprint of Active Adult projects is often smaller (in order to capitalize on more premium real estate) than a traditional CCRC.


If you can’t tell, we’re absolutely loving this vertical and the flexibility it offers for an age group we feel has been historically underserved. Do we worry that it has the potential to be overbuilt? Sure, but we are also hopeful that developers looking to build in this space – either as a one-off or as a portfolio of projects – do it the right way by selecting consultants that will help establish Active Adult projects an attractive market for years and decades to come.

We are so excited about the Active Adult projects we have in the works in all stages here at Banko Design and how this market continues to take shape. Do you have an Active Adult project you need expert help on? We’d love to hear about it. Reach out to us by emailing!


Multifamily Design Trends: The Remote Worker

Over the course of history, there have been major events that have changed the landscaped of real estate development, architecture, and design. We’ve seen recessions, rapid innovations in technology, changes in government policies, and most recently a pandemic. Eventually, these large-scale events alter the real estate market and all services associated with it! As we all know, the majority of the work force worked from home for the past 2 years, and some never stopped or will never go back into office full-time, resulting in many remote workers looking to redecorate their home office, signing up for co-working spaces, or moving to communities that fit their new work environment. SO, in this month’s blog, we’re discussing how the new “work from anywhere” lifestyle has affected multifamily amenity trends, and why we’re here for it!


Since Melissa founded Banko Design 7 seven years ago, she has always been passionate about providing her employees with a flexible work schedule and the ability to work from anywhere. This goes for giving parents the ability to work remote when needing to take care of the kids, the ability to work around life’s appointments, and better flexibility with client office visits and onsite visits.

Why was this important to our founder? As a young, up and coming designer, Melissa worked for several large architecture and design firms. With egregious work hours and a young family, Melissa implored her employers for a more flexible work schedule. For the most part, the answer was “no” because occasional remote work was simply not the industry standard. So, when she started Banko Design, she immediately gave all employees laptops and offered flexible schedules, giving working moms, dog moms, and the ability to better fulfill their responsibilities at home and at work!

This is why Melissa provided a multitude of spaces within our studio for all types of work and workers like – small and large conference rooms with tricked out video conferencing equipment, a huge breakroom with bar seating, dining table seating, banquette seating, AND kids seating 😊, sample pin up and lay out space throughout the office, green room for recording social media content, living room seating, and a mother’s room with a private bathroom, fridge and rocking chair! Melissa believes that if she invests in her team and their needs, then they will in turn invest in Banko, and we can honestly, say, this investment has paid off! Giving our team the space and resources they need to collaborate has resulted in an unmatched culture and superior design!!

All that to say, our team clearly has experience in communal workspaces, giving us the ability to really crush this upcoming trend in multifamily!


It’s no secret that the pandemic has left a lasting impact on how we design spaces, especially multifamily buildings. As new multifamily projects come through the door, it has become increasingly obvious that communal workspaces are the hot ticket item! The world is working differently! The traditional work life and schedule has significantly changed and ultimately created a need for spaces that have flexible use. Today, we see more people reveling in remote work with no intention of return to the traditional office or are looking for jobs that are fully remote. Another change is the amount of people that are now pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in 2020 alone, 4.3 million new business applications were filed. For perspective, that is 24% more than 2019. So how does this change how we design?


NEWS FLASH! – The traditional office is no longer in one, centralized location! Teams can now work from quite literally ANYWHERE! Because of this, developers and owners are now requesting fully equipped communal workspaces in all of their multifamily projects. Gone are the days of a coffee maker, a printer, and a couple of tables. These communal workspaces require phone booths, office pods, multiple breakout spaces, conference rooms with TVs and high-quality cameras for virtual and in-person meetings, high speed WiFi and, of course, POWER EVERYWHERE!

Not only does this amenity require high technology but also high design! Banko Design is allocating the best square footage in the community with the best views because they want these areas to be the pinnacle of their property. We are applying specialty finishes, luxury FF&E, and creative design to make this amenity a highly used space that will lure new residents in and be utilized fully. Some are taking it a step farther and really leaning into the content creator generation. We are including areas for residents to record content like podcast and TikTok rooms, and they expect several instagrammable moments throughout for social media savvy residents. We want to create communal workspaces for remote or new entrepreneurs that need a quiet place with a great view and all the tools they need right within their own community! 

The beauty of these spaces is that not only are they ideal for remote workers, but they can also be designed to be used for events, evening hangs, entertaining clients and coworkers, and  so much more. The sky is the limit! Banko is providing a workspace with all of these elements for residents right within their communities!

If you’re looking for a design team with a passion for flexible work schedules AND a love (and know how) for great design, we’ve got great news for you! Banko Design is ready to take on your project! Interested in chatting with us? Reach out to our business development team at and

Will you be at Marcus & Millichap Multifamily Southeast on March 31st in Atlanta, GA? If so, we’d love to meet up! Brittany and Steph will be there representing Banko Design. Email them at and


Aha Moments From 2021

This past year was one of immense growth and learning, which is why for this month’s blog, we wanted to highlight our top 4 “aha” moments from our 2021 blogs and how we are translating those moments into 2022.

Last year, we installed over 50 projects in our respective verticals – senior living, multifamily, and hospitality. Needless to say, there were numerous hurdles we had to jump and skills we had to finesse to successfully complete these projects on time and within budget. This past year, we learned to master renovations, we championed senior-specific furniture, we furthered our knowledge around tech in the multifamily space, and we strengthened our belief in location-centric design in hospitality.

Aha Moment #1 – The Rise of Renovations: It’s Time For a Change!

“To ensure our success from the start, our teams form a calculated plan that clearly maps out how we’ll make the building look and feel cohesive AFTER the renovation.”

With the cost of building through the roof and the disruption of global supply chains this past year, new-build projects became increasingly more costly for developers. As our clients navigated the rising costs, Banko saw a rise in requests to renovate and refresh their existing, well-worn communities rather than building something new in this expensive market.

For us, 2021 reinforced the fact that renovations are drastically different than new-build projects. They are also often more challenging with tighter budgets and shorter timelines. We continued to find that creating a calculated plan was key to a successful project. In 2022, we will continue to use our thorough practice of taking inventory of existing FF&E, discussing the owner’s vision, and forming the budget for the project. With our full-service in-house procurement team that has significant buying power and two Banko-owned warehouses, we will continue to be able to control costs and finish within the timeline.

For the full article, click here.

Aha Blog Moment #2 – Let’s Talk About Senior Living Furniture

“Furniture should be thoughtfully specified so that it works not only for the aging body but also for those in and outside of senior living communities. That’s why we’ve always built custom furniture for the communities we design.”

From its founding, Banko Design has taken pride in specializing in senior living design. We know that when choosing furniture for senior living communities, our ultimate goal is to provide a comfortable, practical, and beautiful space. To do this, we always consider the pitch of the seating options, the height of the furniture, the cleanability and durability and so much more.

Our experience in building custom furniture for the communities we have designed has shown us that not everyone has the ability to create pieces that are senior-friendly, practical AND beautiful. We knew there had to be a better solution, so we created one. This led to our collaboration with renowned furniture manufacturer, Fairfield Chair, to build a custom furniture line that is tailored to seniors’ unique needs. Our furniture line, launching Spring 2022, includes all senior-friendly design details along with classic yet beautiful designs that can be universally used from commercial to residential projects. We cannot wait to see our furniture line debuted in the communities we design!

For the full article, click here.

Aha Blog Moment #3 – Multifamily Amenities and Services: The Contactless Age

“Today’s multifamily residents are savvy shoppers who gravitate toward a multifamily development largely due to the convenient amenities throughout the building.”

In 2021, technology continued to play an important role in the multifamily industry. This was seen in the increasing number of fully contactless communities due to limited interaction between residents and community staff. But, is this what residents really want? We often found that face to face interaction with community staff creates a sense of community for residents, which in turn, increases retention rates.

A question we are often asked is, “what are the latest and greatest trends in multifamily?” One trend we have seen an increase in popularity is the demand for tech-focused amenities and services. The challenge of providing these amenities in 2022 is going to be specifying technology features that will not become outdated too quickly. A few common amenities we believe will continue to be sought after are communal work areas, dog walking services, health and wellness centers, and rooftop bars and pools.

For the full article, click here.

Aha Blog Moment #4 – Hospitality in Secondary Markets

“Unique experiences and one-of-a-kind discovery moments in hospitality design are more important than ever before.”

In the past few years, there has been an increase of residential booms in secondary markets or mid-size cities. Using this data, hotel developers and brands are deciding where to open their next property. The theory is that by tracking the rising home prices in these areas, you’ll find that it’s often an accurate indicator of where demand will follow for travel destinations. From a design perspective, Banko Design has always looked at residential trends when beginning a new project. Even though our projects have a commercial focus, our end user still wants their stay to feel comfortable like a home, authentic to their destination, and rooted in the fabric of the city.

We are confident there will continue to be a demand for boutique hospitality properties. With that, we will continue doing what we do best – helping our clients to tell the story of their property. We know that guests love to feel like they’ve experienced something special and exclusive. A well-designed boutique hotel in these secondary markets can do just that.

For the full article, click here.

We are proud of everything we have accomplished in 2021 and all the opportunities that came our way. We learned a lot, and we are excited to see what the next year brings. Here’s to more wins and lessons learned in 2022!

Interested in learning more about how we can help? Reach out to Steph or Brittany, our Business Development team, at and