The “Un-Retirement” Residence

It is important to realize the effect that an environment can make on its inhabitants. People are most often proud of where they live, and this should not stop as one moves into a residence after retirement. It is not hard to agree that cheerful and comfortable interiors create a much more positive environment for both residents and the staff, and two such residences – The Dunfield Retirement Residence, and Living Life on the Avenue – designed by John David Edison both reflect this same philosophy.

Unlike most retirement homes that have until now been creating an institutional environment with monotonous colours and nursing-based services. Think of The Dunfield and Living Life as Un-Retirement Residences, not a retirement home in the traditional sense, but more like boutique hotels with all attendant services quietly present. Also unlike most other homes, the rich designs of these residences are meant to provide reassurance to family members who are placing their parents’ in someone else’s hands. Prospective residents and family members must feel safe, protected and well taken care of.

The Dunfield

Moving into a retirement residence does not have to feel like “the last phase of life”. Quite the opposite. Appropriately The Dunfield is located in the Yonge/Eglinton area, surrounded by the young, hip, and trendy. This vibrancy was reflected in the contemporary design of the interior as well.

A bar and bistro with sun room is right at the entrance to signify that “Life does not stop.” The design is meant to reflect taking the traditional and adding a new, fresh, young approach to it. The main lobby area is designed with rich oak and carpet patterned like marble and stone adding to the intended feeling of luxury.

The dining area is designed to be cheerfully colourful with draperies that can be used to zone off sections to accommodate private parties. The Ground Floor has been designed as a public meet and greet area for the residents to socialize with each other, their visiting families, or both.

In the restaurant, residents are provided the luxury of sitting for meals as they please, unlike most other retirement homes that have a regimented schedule. It also caters to family dine-ins and walk-ins from the public.

The second floor includes a full service spa, swimming pool, and hair salon, and also features private massage rooms with the option for two tables together for those in a romantic mood. For social health, there is an active games room with billiards, pool, and table tennis, and a multipurpose room for more mellow gatherings than in the dining area. This gives people spaces to meet and socialize, to avoid having to stay within the walls of their apartments.

A library on the 14th floor overlooks the cityscape in order to serve as a getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. It is designed to provide rich comfort with a fireplace, fresh coffee, and more quiet games such as chess and checkers. This is intended to provide residents with the option of peace and quiet as and when needed.

Apartment rooms are designed specifically to be cozy and to provide the feel of a home not a hotel. Safety was a major concern when designing the rooms, which have been outfitted with emergency call buttons in every room. They incorporate a full-service kitchen to provide for independent living should the residents choose to cook their own meals and/or entertain guests at home.

Living Life on the Avenue

At Avenue Road and Eglinton, Living Life on the Avenue is located in a quieter, cozier neighbourhood than The Dunfield. The architecture of the building was inspired from elements of a popular church that existed in the area, and these elements were reflected on the interiors as well, specifically with overtures to “classic,” such as bearing qualities of “Grand Houses” from the 18th and 19th centuries while remaining friendly and livable at the same time.

Contrasting with The Dunfield, which contains many vibrant, cheerful colours echoing contemporary design,             Living Life contains dark, rich tones and patterns to achieve a boutique luxury, and there was liberal use of dark, rich wood paneling and columns to formalize the interior layout of the ground floor.

One of the most striking features of the interiors is the enfilade that appears after entering. The idea was to show many different spaces within one view. The ground floor starts with the tea lounge at one end, going through the main lobby and the lobby lounge, then the bar and bistro, ending with the dining area. This has been designed for the more quiet lifestyle extant in the residence’s neighbourhood.

Similar to The Dunfield, Living Life also features a full service spa, bar, and hair salon to offer the residents the option of pampering themselves. A multipurpose room is located on a higher floor and overlooks the cityscape, and due to the configuration of the building, the types of apartments vary starkly, ranging from studios to bedroom suites and everything in the middle.

Retirement is a time to be enjoyed after having spent an entire lifetime working hard to achieve it, not meant to be spent cooped up waiting. If anything, it is a time for increased activity, positive experience and companionship with new friends of like mind. We, at John David Edison Interior Design Inc., are working hard to redirect this notion so that people can look forward to aging comfortably and gracefully. Living has challenges at every stage of life, and aging perhaps more; but when positively viewed, most of these challenges can be made much easier, if not entirely overcome.

John David Edison is the principal of Toronto-based John David Edison Interior Design Inc. (, specializing in luxury hotels, residential, condominiums, and golf clubs.