IN RECENT YEARS, THE PERCENTAGE OF PEOPLE OVER 65 has increased
dramatically. By 2030, one in five in the United States and Canada will be 65
or older. That means interior designers must increasingly consider the needs
of an older clientele.
“It’s a huge opportunity for designers to get things right,” says Sacramento,
California-based interior designer Kerrie Kelly of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab, who
specializes in designing for an aging population. “You have to ask yourself, ‘What
would I do if these clients were my parents?’”
The way we perceive color and light changes significantly over time. “Perception
clearly changes as we age,” notes Carl Minchew, who oversees color innovation
and design for Benjamin Moore & Co., “and the changes are psychological as
well as physical. We don’t all react the same way, either. Some people become
more interested in brighter colors as they age—think of your grandmother wearing brightly colored clothing. Other people become more sensitive and actually
prefer things to be more muted. They find it jarring to be around bright color.”
Clients can experience a number of changes in color vision as they age.
Particularly in men, color blindness can be common, which causes people to confuse blue with green, for example, and yellow with violet. Even if an elderly client
is not technically color blind, he or she may have increasing difficulty discerning
1. Color blindness, cataracts,
glaucoma, and dementia affect the
way color is perceived as we age.
The Color of Change