An unexpected demographic is set to drive the interior design industry in the next decade. According to Forbes, the baby boomer generation will be making a comeback in the interior design industry by 2030 as the youngest of the generation retires.
The most recent U.S. Population Survey indicates that the last of the Baby Boom generation (born between 1946 and 1964) will be turning 65 by 2030. For the first time in the country’s history, the number of Americans over 65 will outnumber those under the age of 18.
That means one out of every five Americans will be at retirement age, and not every senior wants to share their home or room with strangers as they grow older.
Interior designers and architects are expecting more projects that will help seniors age in place. They’re also expecting more remodeling projects in homes to accommodate elderly family members moving in either temporarily or permanently.
The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) just recently released their 2019 Outlook and State of Interior Design (OSID) report. This report supplies design professionals with insights and information from industry thought leaders.
One of the trends that were highlighted in the OSID report includes a shift in the American household. “[The] traditional family household model is being replaced by more fluid, variable configurations based on lifestyle and social identity,” ASID said.
Although seniors may not be willing to move in with roommates they don’t know, a study by the Pew Research Center found that approximately 12% of American parents with one or more children living at home were providing unpaid care for a senior family member living in the same house.
But U.S. housing trends aren’t only changing because of aging parents. Living spaces are also transforming as American lifestyles transform with changing social norms and economic necessities.
Single-parent households, single-occupant housing, and shared housing are all becoming more standard. Some Americans are choosing to live by themselves and buy their own houses while others may be living with roommates or co-housing with partners or friends.
Consumers, the OSID report says, are more open to experimenting with new ways of living, consuming, and commuting. And that consumer shift isn’t limited only to Generation Z, Millennials, and Generation X.
Many retiring baby boomers say they’re fine living alone and are choosing to age in place in their own homes rather than moving into an apartment or retirement community. This could mean a big break for the interior design industry for many reasons.
First, the baby boomer generation is known for its spending. According to Richard Curtin, director of the University of Michigan Survey of Consumers, baby boomers dominated consumer spending in the U.S. for decades and were confident in their spending even when in debt. The average American spends up to $1,800 a year just on clothes.
This is because baby boomers launched their careers during strong economic times. “Baby boomers thought ‘We’re living the American Dream,'” said Curtin.
Because millennials grew up during the recession and other economic hardships, those born between 1980 and 1994 are less likely to spend their money. So even though 34% of home buyers are millennials, it’s the jump in retiring baby boomers that interior designers may be more excited by.
Even technology companies are taking advantage of seniors’ independence by creating devices specifically for the senior market. These devices include health and wellness tech and virtual reality experiences that are designed to combat isolation.
Smart versions of common items are also being developed to better support senior wellness. For instance, smart windows may be able to protect seniors from UVA rays, 50% of which pass through average windows.
Other smart versions of common items currently in development include smart beds, canes, clothing, lights, scales, toilets, and flooring, although carpeting still makes up 51% of the U.S. flooring market.
“Industry forecasts show that Gen X and millennials will continue to be important consumer targets, as much for their current spending as for their longer-term loyalty,” says Wayne Best, the chief economist at Visa, ” but the strongest future growth potential in spending lies firmly with baby boomers.”