“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

While this statement has been credited to the likes of Oscar Wilde, Will Rogers, and even the ad slogan of Head & Shoulders Shampoo in the 1980’s, its interpretation has often been skewed to support the subject at hand. However, when applied to the built environment, its literal meaning holds true… or does it?

In the case of a senior living community, a positive first impression can mean the difference between a prospective resident and their family leaving a tour disappointed, or saying, “I could see Mom living here.”

The elements that make that first impression a positive one depend on the specific community and the needs of the prospective resident, but generally involve some version of the “wow” factor. For an aging community fighting to stay relevant within its market, a good first impression can be a tough hurdle to overcome.

One striking example of a first impression transformation story is Laurel Circle, a continuing care retirement community in Bridgewater, New Jersey. Laurel Circle has reinvented itself within its market, both through updating its image and increasing the services provided. After switching to management by Life Care Services, Laurel Circle decided it was time to change their image, and hired Hord Coplan Macht (HCM) to help.

HCM worked alongside Laurel Circle leadership and residents to determine the best course of action for the community, eventually planning extensive interior renovations and several future expansions. The first phase of renovations was completed in the Spring of 2020 and includes sought-after amenities such as a new welcome lobby with adjacent café. The design team transformed a dark, dated vestibule into a light, airy space with luxury finishes and clear wayfinding. The café provides easy access to snacks and light meals, supporting residents with independent, active lifestyles. The lobby serves not only as a front entrance and welcoming center, but also as a comfortable place for socialization among residents and their guests. Updated finishes create a modern, but classic, feel throughout the space.



Now, when prospective residents and their families visit for the first time, they will see bright, open spaces full of activity where there used to be enclosed vacant rooms with dated furniture. They will see residents utilizing the new amenities, socializing over a cup of Starbucks coffee or grabbing a fruit smoothie on their way to the new Wellness Center or Boutique Salon. This active, engaging “first impression” was Laurel Circle’s desired goal, and HCM is honored to have had the opportunity to bring this dream to life for the community.

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