courtesy Harken Interiors

The Project: The Sheridan at Severna Park, Severna Park, Md.

The Client: Senior Lifestyle, an owner, operator, and developer of senior living communities in the United States, with Kaufman Jacobs, a real estate development and investment company.

Jaclyn Moser and Chris Sommers
Claire Gruber Jaclyn Moser and Chris Sommers

Guiding principles for the project: Taking inspiration from the community’s roots as a stop along the Baltimore Annapolis Railroad, the design embraced regional heritage in a modern way. We approached the assisted living and memory-care community project with balance in mind—dynamic and serene, inspired and approachable. Each design decision prioritized comfort and safety, casual sophistication, and appeal to residents and their networks of families and friends.

Designers: Harken Interiors is a Chicago-based interior design studio with a focus on luxury senior living, hospitality, and mixed-use residential markets. Founded in 2015 by Jaclyn Moser and Chris Sommers, Harken Interiors derives its name from hearken, meaning to listen, and aims to uncover, develop, and deliver immersive client narratives through built space.

Inside the Project

The Sheridan at Severna Park Dining Room Reception
courtesy Harken Interiors The Sheridan at Severna Park Dining Room Reception

Communicate a continuation of a life well lived
Anchoring aesthetics in residential comforts and hospitality aspirations, the design strives to usher in a welcomed next step in life and to destigmatize the move to assisted living and memory care. The reception area feels more hotel than healthcare, the Great Room more country club than tired community center. Each touchpoint is as layered as someone’s independent life, with furniture and accessories that feel collected and unique. It’s deeply important to our team that a resident’s decision to move in feels like a positive choice rather than a reluctant compromise—the first step is to see themselves, the version they most happily identify with, reflected in the space.

The Sheridan at Severna Park Great Room
courtesy Harken Interiors The Sheridan at Severna Park Great Room

Create a setting for well-being
Socializing has been proven to be one of the leading ways seniors can strengthen their mental health and lean into other healthy behaviors like physical activity. In the Great Room, the game tables, multipurpose bar, connected terrace, and communal lounges provide diverse settings for connecting with fellow residents, friends, and family. The fresh backdrop encourages family to visit—it’s comfortable, prideful, and positive. Easy sightlines to the adjacent library and semi-adjacent entertainment suite, activity room, and mailroom welcome residents into programming spaces for enhanced group experiences.

The Sheridan at Severna Park Dining Room
courtesy Harken Interiors The Sheridan at Severna Park Dining Room

Provide invisible assistance for maintenance and functionality
The Alta finish by Applied Textiles ensures that residents can enjoy fabrics with a soft hand, diverse textures, and residential feel all while providing the highest repellency, cleanability, and liquid barrier. This technology helped us avoid institutional palettes and harsh handed textiles, opened our sourcing to a wider variety of textile providers, extended the life of finished goods, eased maintenance procedures, and most importantly created a tactile experience that feels intimate not medical.

The Sheridan at Severna Park Club Room
courtesy Harken Interiors The Sheridan at Severna Park Club Room

Encourage independence and deliver security
We are interested in the critical functional requirements that support residents in maneuvering through the space and their lives confidently, such as a chair armrest that allows residents to push their full body weight out of the seat and color placement that defines where one plane or object ends and another begins. A denser foam, higher seat, and shallower depth in a lounge chair doesn’t only mean an easier entry and exit; it can also mean comfort and confidence to sit with a friend.

The Sheridan at Severna Park Living Room
courtesy Harken Interiors The Sheridan at Severna Park Living Room

Innovate towards a redefined vision of senior living
Our firm consulted with Samuelson Furniture to create silhouettes that we felt were missing from the senior-living furniture market: modern curves, tailored geometry with hospitality details, and furniture frames that go beyond pure function. Typically, we are hired to bring a hospitality feel to our communities, but there are only so many ways to reapply upholstery to traditional forms. This line breathes new life into running line furniture selections and provides an easy cleanout at the seat with tilt and an integrated hook for walkers or bags . The Great Room features the Charles lounge chair, Madison lounge chair, and Marilyn dining chair (which is seen at the bar).

The Sheridan at Severna Park Library
courtesy Harken Interiors The Sheridan at Severna Park Library

Create a sense of place
Residents find familiarity in art inspired by the local Chesapeake Bay region. The crisp, natural color palette punctuated with rich saturation connects to the regional landscape, ample waterways, and abundance of blue crabs. The architecture also nods to community design traditions through craftsman-inspired details like the wood ceiling, focal fireplace, and built-in bookshelves.

courtesy Harken Interiors

Provide diversity of experiences
Programming incorporates a variety of seating groupings and styles, vistas, and group-size accommodations as the community is the ongoing backdrop to everyday living. Volume changes indicate transitions between spaces—compression of a low ceiling and intimate welcome at the reception leads into soaring ceiling and feelings of openness in the Great Room. Colors, carpets, signature lighting, and millwork characteristics change per room both as a gentle indication of wayfinding and memory association as a source of onsite variety.

The Sheridan at Severna Park Dining Room
courtesy Harken Interiors The Sheridan at Severna Park Dining Room

Invite energy into the space from morning to evening
The bar takes center stage in the Great Room adjacent to the entry and main corridor path of travel to purposely activate interaction—offering coffee service in the morning and happy hour into the evening. Double height windows and the clerestory allow an abundance of sunlight to flood in, which supports improved moods, vision, and energy. Open screening elements along the Great Room perimeter balance privacy and protection with a peek into corridor activity, always communicating the presence of others and sense of community.

This article first appeared in the September 2022 issue of ARCHITECT.

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