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


Let’s Talk Senior Living Furniture

For this month’s blog, we’re diving into a topic that we consider ourselves experts on! We’re discussing why senior living communities require specific furniture and what that furniture should look like.

It’s no secret that our bodies change as we age, yet somehow that fact is often forgotten when it comes to specifying furniture for our seniors.  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.

So, What Does that Look Like?

There are several details that our designers take into consideration when specifying or building custom furniture for our senior living projects, whether they be new build or renovation.

For example, the pitch of the seating options must be perfect! As we age, we sit longer for meals and require more back support, so having the correct pitch is imperative. Similarly, as we age, our skin becomes thinner, so it is important to be mindful of sharp corners on tables, chairs, credenzas etc. and instead opt for smooth and rounded corners on furniture.

At Banko, we are big proponents for mixing soft goods at different scales and proportions in sitting or living rooms. Remember, not all bodies are built the same, so it does not make sense for all seating to be the exact same! For example, some seniors prefer a firmer back support, while others may desire a fully cushioned upholstered back. Want to give the people what they want? Give them options!

Other factors we’re conscious of include chair heights correlating with tabletop heights, ideal seat heights for those with mobility issues, thoughtfully programming sofas and chairs that allow for our seniors with equipment to travel throughout the room safely, and SO much more.

All of these considerations are based on providing a comfortable, practical, AND beautiful space for our seniors to thrive in!

Cleanability and Durability are the Name of the Game

From our experience in the senior living, hospitality, and multifamily verticals, we’ve found that senior living communities are not renovated as often as hospitality and multifamily. Knowing this, it makes it that much more important that we specify and build furniture that is sturdy and can stand the test of time AND 24/7 use! This means your senior living communities’ furniture must be easily cleanable and durable!

We have always been fully aware that the cleanability of a piece and its upholstery is key. Because of this, we specify commercial-grade fabrics that are wipeable and bleachable, and we include clean outs in seating, making it easier on caregivers and janitorial staff to clean. We also avoid transitions in pieces and/or materials, as they can cause food, dust, or just day to day grime to get stuck.

As for durability, we are sure to specify furniture frames that can withstand the abuse of walkers, wheelchairs and years of CONSTANT use. However, while senior living furniture needs to be durable, it shouldn’t be heavy. Certain seating can sometimes be cumbersome for seniors or their caregivers to move, so our team must be thoughtful in choosing or designing that furniture that will be sturdy for seniors to use to get up and down but also easy to move to simply sit or stand up. Having mobile furniture also gives staff the opportunity to reconfigure their space, as needed. This does NOT necessarily mean that we should just slap wheels on everything!

If you haven’t noticed by now, Banko Design is passionate about providing quality furniture for our seniors. Communities will often require large FF&E packages; however, if the budget cannot support both the quantity AND quality pieces that are necessary, Banko will cut quantity first. Of course, we have tons of options for different price points between great vendor partners and our significant buying power, but we don’t believe an unrealistic FF&E budget can be solved by low quality furniture. If we cut the quality and durability of the furniture, it is the staff and residents who suffer, and we can’t have that!

We Want it All, So We’re Building It Ourselves!

At Banko, we don’t settle. That’s why we’ve always built custom furniture for the communities we design. We believe it is of the utmost importance that our seniors get something that is beautiful, senior-friendly, cleanable, AND durable. That is why we are designing our very own furniture line!

Understanding that not everyone could or had the desire to build custom furniture, Banko began a conversation with renowned furniture manufacturer, Fairfield Chair, to create a line of furniture that is custom fitted to a senior’s needs. Melissa and her team included all of the previously mentioned design details such as appropriate arch support on seating options, cushioned arm rests, customizable casters, classic yet beautiful designs, and much more. We are ecstatic to have led the charge in making it easier for designers and owners alike to provide seniors with both practical and stunning furniture.

Our furniture line, A BD Collection for Fairfield, is debuting in 2022. We can’t wait to share it with the world and provide the furniture our seniors deserve!

Want to learn more about how we can make your interiors more senior friendly? Reach out to our Business Development team at and


Hospitality In Secondary Markets

Our team recently attended The Americas Lodging Investment Summit, also known as ALIS, where we networked with brands, developers, operators, and manufacturers and chatted about current trends in hospitality. At ALIS, we gained some insight into where hospitality development is headed, and we are excited!

Residential Booms

It’s become clear to us that in the luxury sector, hotel developers and brands are increasingly evaluating where and when the residential booms are happening and using this data to decide where to open their next enterprise. Interestingly, these residential booms are primarily in “secondary” mid-size cities with sizable industry. We’re talking about cities like Park City, UT or Chattanooga, TN.

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. With the rise of domestic tourism in the past year and travelers foregoing air travel for drivable destinations like in these secondary markets, this is becoming even more prevalent. So, for brands and developers who see themselves as being on the cutting edge, this is something to take note of!

Location-Centric Design

You may be wondering, “what does this mean for design?” Well, Banko Design has always taken cues from residential trends when designing a new project. Even though our projects are commercially focused, our end user wants their experience to feel comfortable like a home. This holds true for boutique hotel guests who also expect that their stay will feel authentic to their destination. We’ve found that guests like when their hotel’s aesthetic is rooted in the fabric of the city that they’re visiting. 

Unique experiences and one-of-a-kind discovery moments in hospitality design are more important than ever before. Reports show that even before the pandemic, boutique hotels received the majority of their business from domestic travelers. With domestic travel (especially to drivable destinations) on the rise due to vaccinations and loosening restrictions, there is a heightened demand for boutique properties that are in secondary markets. They allow guests the opportunity to find something “off the beaten path” and experience something new and unique. I think we can all agree that we love to feel like we’ve experienced something special that perhaps not everyone knows about. A well-designed boutique hotel in these secondary markets can check all of those boxes!

Our ethos is that a hotel’s design should authentically reflect the city, culture, and community in which it’s built. We pride ourselves on doing just that by providing hallmarks in the design details that relate to the city or people of the area. This could be a handrail detail that is similar to a prominent landmark in town, or a fabric pattern that highlights the state flower, or even a custom mural from a local artist. Our ultimate goal is to help owners tell the story for their property and its city through unique features and fantastic programming. 

To keep it short and sweet, we believe we will begin to see an increase in hospitality development in secondary markets. And when it happens, we’ll be ready to design your hotel so that it will provide your guests with a personalized and luxurious experience.

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


Let’s Talk Fee: Why We’re Worth the Money

For this month’s blog post, we’re pulling back the curtain to explain what our clients truly get when they hire Banko Design.

Occasionally, when we engage with new clients on RFPs, we’re given the following feedback: We love your proposal and suggested scope, but your fees are on the higher end versus the other groups we’ve solicited.

And we respond with a smile, “That’s not the first time we’ve heard that feedback. We know our fees are higher than most. Here’s why!”

Some potential clients come to us after being burned by an interior designer or interior decorator. Often, the client feels they’ve overpaid for interior design services from a group that overpromises and underdelivers, and now, they’re stuck with a subpar property that doesn’t meet ROI expectations, which is a major bummer.

We also understand that budgets can be tight – especially with all the other craziness going on in the market right now. We always try to work with our clients to find a happy medium and we pride ourselves on providing incredible interior design at a great value.

However, selling our services short is not the Banko Design way. We want our clients to feel GREAT about their decision to hire us from day one. We appreciate the monetary investment they’ve made in great design and we know we need to earn their trust while executing their vision and exceeding their expectations along the way.

What You’re Really Paying For When You Engage A (Great) Interior Design Firm

When we talk “Interior Design Services,” we think it’s helpful to break down this concept as tangibles vs. intangibles on the project. Tangibles are the deliverables listed in our proposals that our clients actually see during various milestones of the project, i.e. Design and FF&E presentations, physical fabric and finish selections, contract documents, answers to RFQs, etc.

However, it’s important to remember that clients don’t just pay us to “pick out pretty fabrics.” Intangibles are what goes on behind the scenes to make those deliverables happen within the agreed timelines. While the intangibles are harder to see and therefore hard to communicate to prospective clients, the intangibles are crucial to ensuring a smooth and successful project from start to finish.

So, what do we consider to be critical intangibles at Banko Design? We’re happy you asked! Every project with Banko Design’s name on it features in depth front-end research, superior project management, and architectural level quality control. While this combination isn’t our secret sauce (which may or may not be stored in a safe somewhere), these factors are why we believe the majority of our business is from repeat clients.

In-Depth Front-End Research – We see interior design as a very collaborative process. Part of our kick-off is devoted to learning about our clients including their vision and goals for the project, their likes and dislikes, and what has worked well on past projects. Additionally, we firmly believe that our projects should have a strong sense of place. We conduct thorough research before pulling or presenting any design elements to be sure we’re in line with the project’s demographics, history, and local vernacular.

Superior Project Management – Banko Design hires only the best and brightest interior designers and interior architects. On every project, our interior design team is with our clients every step of the way to ensure they receive all the information in a timely fashion. We staff every project appropriately because we think our designers work best when they’re able to fully devote themselves to a project without the stress of overwork and aggressive deadlines. We invest in resources and our staff so that we can continue to push the envelope, and we grow our staff strategically to keep up with both the work we’re contracted to complete and projects on the horizon. The fees our clients pay ensure that we can continue to sustainably grow while maintaining our special boutique culture here at Banko Design.

Architectural Level Quality Control – Banko Design is comprised of both interior designers and interior architects. We often brag that we “play nice in the sandbox.” By this we mean that we love partnering with all consultants on projects, and they love us too! This mutual admiration is due in part to the quality of our documentation. We draw at an architectural level so that there’s no confusion when it comes time to build. We have highly qualified staff specifically dedicated to reviewing all project deliverables and providing redlines as necessary. We take a “measure twice, cut once” approach to design and think this method saves everyone time, money, and headache along the way.

We find that talking about money is often a taboo subject in the interior design world, but it shouldn’t have to be. We promise we’re not getting rich off interior design services – the interior design industry runs on notoriously slim margins – but we’re also not ashamed to ask for appropriate compensation of our time and to set our team up for success now and in the future. Our goal is always to partner with our clients long-term. We’ve been able to develop impressive portfolios with many of our clients because they appreciate the value our team brings to the table.

Have a project that you want to discuss with us? We’re attending:

Meet up with us at an upcoming conference, or email our Business Development team to discuss!


The Rise of Renovations: It’s Time For A Change!

Each month, we pick a topic and blog about the different industries that Banko Design services. This month, we’re tackling an increasingly prevalent topic in senior living and in all out of our markets – the rise of renovations!


It’s no secret that the cost of building right now is through the roof. Supply chains have been disrupted globally and prices for lumber and other materials have skyrocketed. This has made investing in new-build projects even more financially cumbersome for developers. As our clients pivot to manage these rising costs, Banko is seeing a boom in requests to renovate and refresh their existing communities, including light finish and FF&E upgrades. Considering the past 18-24 months, this isn’t a shock.

To say our seniors’ communities have been well-loved and used over the past year is a massive understatement. With wheelchair and walker traffic, food and beverage delivery, more strenuous cleaning regiments, and residents and staff on the move and unable to venture outside of the community – we’re talking 24 hours a day, 7 days a week usage. Senior living communities have seen serious wear and tear! Rather than building something new in an expensive market, many of our clients are looking at what they already have and taking steps to improve it. But, as we all know, renovations cost, so where’s the money coming from?


During the pandemic, the majority of capital was going to PPE, additional care staff, hazard pay, and increased cleaning fees at senior living communities rather than to new projects and expanding portfolios. And, because of the volatility the pandemic brought with it, many held on to their cash reserves and accrued CapEx dollars in the effort to “wait it out.” A year and a half have passed and for many the wait is over. Those with reserves are now recognizing the benefit of giving their current communities a fresh start.


You may be wondering if renovations are really THAT different from new-builds. Our answer is YES for a variety of reasons. New-builds are typically in booming markets, while renovations are often in tertiary markets. We also find that owners tend to buy renovation projects in quantity, while new-build business comes in and moves at much slower rates. Another notable difference is that consultant teams are much smaller on renovations and often only include a designer and general contractor. As you would suspect, this makes project management and coordination much easier.

Aside from their differences, we would argue that renovations are much more challenging than a new-build project. Budgets are often tighter, making dollars hard to stretch. There are also so many unknowns in renovations, which is why we always include a contingency! Renovations are completed at a faster cycle than a new-build project, meaning you have months rather than years to plan, select, order, and install. With ever-increasing lead times on materials affecting everyone this year, this makes renovations even more tricky. Another reason that renovations are more challenging? Renovations are occupied, whereas new-build properties are free of residents. The occupancy factor requires exemplary coordination with community staff and other consultants to ensure that work is done efficiently and quickly without disturbing residents.


Does this all sound like a lot to coordinate? It is! And that’s why it’s SO important you consult with experts who have experience and success in this sector. (Hint hint!) We’ve managed projects from multi-million dollar new-builds to small lobby renovations, AND we’re vertically integrated, which allows our team to draw knowledge from all three of our verticals and apply it to your senior living renovation.

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. We do this by taking inventory of existing furniture, helping owners with project scope, and forming REALISTIC upfront budgets for design services and all necessary changes. We will then program and design the space and expertly document all selections. As previously mentioned, one of the common hiccups of renovations are tight budgets and limited time. With a full-service in-house procurement team that has direct accounts with a multitude of manufacturers and two Banko-owned warehouses in both GA and MN, we can help control costs and time.

Banko Design has beautifully and successfully completed dozens of renovations across all verticals. Let us help you maintain and increase the value of your asset! We’ve got the manpower and expertise to do it and do it right. Have a project on your mind? Reach out to our Business Development team at and


The Return of Travel and New Markets in Hospitality

This month, we are circling back to talk more about hospitality, the industry that arguably took the biggest hit in 2020. In particular, we are excited to be talking about leisure and business travel making its comeback and the new markets that are flourishing as a result!

As the vaccine rolls out, reports are showing that travelers are once again ready to pick that bucket list back up. With so many domestic and international travel plans cancelled in 2020 and a larger number of people vaccinated, we are thrilled to see that families and individuals are once again ready to spend their time and money to travel! Because of last year’s uncertainty, many vacation ownership groups decided not to deploy their cash reserves. As travel restrictions begin to lift and travelers get back on the road or on planes, ownership groups and traditional hoteliers are ready to hit the gas on renovations, new hotel and resort developments, and in some cases are taking advantage of the opportunity to breathe new life into established brands.

But Is Business Travel Back?

Though we respect that some companies will continue to embrace a fully remote work situation post-pandemic and have found it to be an efficient model for the way they work, here at Banko Design we have to admit that we’re a bit fatigued by the remote work aids. We can only pay attention to so many virtual conferences. And we miss gauging our clients’ reactions to our designs in person! Surely, we can’t be the only ones.

So, though the demand for work travel hasn’t caught up yet with what we’re seeing in the leisure travel segment in terms of flight bookings and hotel occupancy, we definitely anticipate (and hope!) business travel returns by the fall of this year and with it, a resurgence of in-person meetings and conferences!

As a business that is based around creating beautiful and functional physical spaces, actually seeing color and touching textured materials and FF&E samples is far superior to virtual presentations. And we believe our clients deserve that full experience to get the clearest picture of what they are paying for.

New Markets in the Hospitality Industry

Historically, we’ve seen that crisis breeds innovation. This time was no different. With many cooped up and stagnant for so long, travelers want to get moving and safely explore the outdoors. This has led to a record rise in camping with studies showing that this increasingly popular pastime is here to stay. Subsequently, this new demand has opened the door to new types of profitable hospitality models such as parks with dedicated “glamping” structures that may include luxury tents or yurts, renovated air streams, tiny homes, former shipping containers and more all over the U.S and world.

But the perceived “grit” of camping is not for everyone, and that’s okay too! Another trend we’ve seen is a demand for wellness-focused amenities and increased cleanliness standards.  As a result of COVID-19’s transmissibility through close person-to-person contact in public settings, our population has become hyper aware of the cleanliness and care of shared spaces. The stress and burden caused by the pandemic to many has also led individuals to seek out more self-care in the form of mental and physical restorative practices. These two factors emphasize that travelers’ health and wellness is no longer optional as a hospitality operator, and travelers will continue to be selective on this facet for the foreseeable future.

From a design perspective, Banko Design can help keep travelers comfortable while keeping our development clients happy. How do we accomplish this? As experts in Senior Living design, we have always understood the importance of designing and specifying with cleanability and durability top of mind. That knowledge, combined with our significant Multifamily and Hospitality portfolio with a focus on service-driven amenities makes us the perfect firm to help you open an unforgettable boutique hospitality project.

Upcoming Conferences

On that note, more and more in person conferences are being scheduled for 2021, and we are here for it! In fact, our Banko Design Business Development team is confirmed to be at:

  • Hunter Hotel Investment Conference – Atlanta, May 10-12
  • ALIS – Los Angeles, July 26-28
  • Lodging Conference – Phoenix, Sept 27-30

So, hit us up because we’d love to meet up and chat about what you’re working on!

As vacation rental and hotel occupancies steadily rise, we are prepared to support our owners when they are ready to get started on new projects! Our team of talented designers includes members with years of experience in Hospitality that have worked with large, small, domestic, and international brands. We have a pulse on trends and strategy for this comeback, so let us help you with your program, budgets, design, and procurement!

Ready to give your hospitality guests a knockout combo of thoughtful, functional, and gorgeous design with a strong individual narrative? Reach out to our Business Development team at


Multifamily Amenities and Services: The Contactless Age

For this month’s blog, we are sharing our thoughts on the multifamily community amenities and services that have sprung from the rise of the “contactless” age.

We get asked all the time what we think are the latest and greatest amenities and services in multifamily. Because we pride ourselves on designing amenities and services that are based on location and demographic, there is really no blanket answer. However, what we have seen trending is an increasing demand for “contactless” tech-focused amenities and services. While we think that tech-driven efficiencies are fantastic, the downside is that oftentimes by the time a multifamily project breaks ground, the tech is already outdated. So, the question becomes, is it possible to specify smart systems that can grow and update as fast as the tech world does?

While that seems like a question better answered by software developers than designers, we can share from years of experience in senior living, hospitality, and multifamily verticals, that great SERVICE never goes out of style…nor will it require spending hours on the phone with IT.

Deca Camperdown Luxury Apartments – South Carolina


For those considering a fully contactless community, we must ask ourselves, do residents really WANT to live in a completely contactless building with no interaction with community staff? We’re not so sure!

A few months ago, Melissa attended a breakfast where a consultant mentioned working on a building that will be completely devoid of a leasing agent or any human staff on site. Those who want to take a tour of the building will sign up online and self-tour. If a resident has a maintenance issue, the company managing the building would send someone from another building nearby to assist. This concept was cool in theory and no doubt saved the management group some overhead from a headcount perspective, but doesn’t the lack of immediate human help seem a little cold?

Riverside St. Johns Apartments – Florida

We believe that hospitable service and face to face interactions with leasing agents or community managers creates a sense of place and community for a resident which can  in turn increase retention rates. Today’s multifamily residents are savvy shoppers who gravitate toward a multifamily development largely due to the convenient amenities throughout the building. So, no matter how nicely designed the remaining amenity areas or the level of finish in the units, when multifamily projects start sacrificing key amenities in order to value engineer or save some overhead, prospective residents who want to feel like they’re getting the appropriate level of attention in exchange for their monthly payments may feel slighted.

While we are huge fans of cool new tech, let’s not forsake fantastic hospitality-inspired amenities and services in our quest for efficiency!

The Jaxon Apartments – Florida


Setting the leasing agent discussion aside, we have witnessed some great innovation in the multifamily space that have resonated with residents, largely borrowed from hospitality. Concepts that come to mind include communal work areas, dog walking services, health and wellness centers, rooftop bars and pools, and thoughtful collaborations and pop ups with local businesses. We see these types of amenities continue to do well in most markets and surprise, surprise most of these require people in some capacity, which is no coincidence.

The Jaxon Apartments – Florida

Additionally, there are a few “contactless” amenities we’ve grown to love because they do make resident’s lives easier and still feel very personalized. We agree it does feel pretty chic to be able to “reserve” pool or gym time conveniently from your phone, and services like dry cleaning drop offs, on-site Amazon lockers or dedicated fridges for Uber Eats deliveries have become the norm. Our challenge then is to seamlessly incorporate these ideas but still make the design sexy and playful so that residents can access these services but aren’t turned off by a row of metal lockers or a giant commercial fridge.  We do this by getting with the developers and/or management group as soon as possible to understand the needs of the community, so we can then perform some design “magic” with those requirements in mind.  At the end of the day, our job as designers is to make your multifamily community efficient, operational, AND beautiful (even your Amazon lockers).

We know that tech in multifamily communities is necessary to stay competitive, but we hope that as the world reopens, we can include technology that is thoughtful, hospitality-focused, timeless and appropriate for the intended demographic.

We believe the world will soon be thirsty for human interaction again, but is your multifamily community prepared for that? Contact our Business Development team at and, they’d love to chat with you about it.