The Five Senses: The Secrets of Creating a WOW Model Apartment

The Five Senses: The Secrets of Creating a WOW Model Apartment

In today’s day and age, senior housing communities need to offer so much more than vacancy promotions in order to increase census. Regardless of whether it is a skilled nursing facility, Alzheimer’s/ dementia care, assisted living, independent living, or all of the above, one thing that is proven effective for increased occupancy is a beautifully designed and well thought out model apartment.

Why is the model apartment so important? Because it touches all aspects of a prospect’s senses – and that is arguably one of the most effective forms of marketing around. One way I explain model apartments is by likening them to a test drive. Would you buy a car solely because the ad looked good online? The reason why you go into a dealership for a test drive is so that you can get a sense of what it feels like to be behind the wheel every day. Moving is no different than any other large investment an individual will make over the course of his or her life, especially when moving into any kind of senior housing. The model should be thought of as the test drive, or the experience that will really support all of the other efforts you’ve put forth to get them to your community for a tour. When they’re there, wow them with a model apartment that touches their senses and creates a feeling of home that can be felt, seen, heard, smelt, tasted, and most importantly remembered.

Below are a few suggestions for creating model apartments that wow the senses and create a lasting impact. These simple suggestions can make all the difference when showing your model apartment:

Sight: For sight, create apartments that look appealing and up-to-date. It’s important to understand trends and themes that seniors are drawn to, like appropriate lighting. When choosing lighting for the aging eye, consider well-placed accent lighting that is easy to access when entering a room. It’s also important to create a model apartment that stays true to the design of the rest of your community. Show your potential residents how being in their apartments will blend seamlessly with their experiences throughout the rest of the community.

Smell: Have you ever heard of a realtor baking cookies before an open house? It’s to make the house feel like home for potential buyers. Touch on the sense of smell for your potential occupants by making the model smell delicious and familiar. One great idea is to run a pot of fresh coffee inside the model just before the arrival of a guest touring your community.

Sound: If potential residents are coming from a residential environment to a community, chances are the sounds that your current community members are used to will be unwelcomed and unfamiliar. Liven up your model and make it feel more like home by providing light background music or putting on the television to a popular station during a showing. If you’re running low on ideas, consider polling your residents to find out what will make the model apartment sound more like home.

Touch: The reason why model apartments are so effective is because they are interactive. The model allows potential occupants to be fully immersed in how it would feel to live in your community. One thing I suggest is that seating be optimized for the seniors touring your community. Make sure that the chairs and sofas you place within your model are easy to sit down and stand up from.

Taste: While your visitors are touring the model, why not offer them a cup of that fresh, delicious smelling coffee you just brewed? Chances are coffee is a familiar taste most of your potential residents will associate with home. Also, consider having easy-to-eat snacks on a tray on the kitchen table. Offering visitors food will make them feel valued, welcomed, and more comfortable.

There you have it, a few suggestions to get your model apartment on the right track. Remember, it’s important to keep in mind that having a model apartment with the right look and feel creates an opportunity to increase census dramatically.

About the Author: Sharon MacDonald is the CEO and Founder of Model55, the largest provider of senior housing model apartments throughout the United States. With more than a decade of model and staging experience behind her, Sharon is continuously looking for ways to improve Model55’s program while helping her clients to grow and succeed.



  1. […] that appeal to all five senses. We recommend a great article by our CEO, Sharon MacDonald, titled, The Five Senses: The Secrets of Create a WOW Model Apartment. [/trx_column_item] [/trx_columns] [trx_columns fluid=”no” margins=”yes” […]

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