living room at wells school project

Model Apartment Design Feature: The Residences at Wells School

Designing a model apartment for occupancy is so much more involved than simply selecting an array of aesthetically pleasing furniture. If you’ve ever wondered what’s in Model55’s secret sauce, you’ll love the brand new design feature series we’re kicking off today.

We’re inviting you into our process to show you how we transform preliminary ideas into beautifully designed spaces. We’ll select a different community for each feature and walk you through each phase of design . You’ll see how our staging solutions and services truly put residents’ needs first.

To start, we’re featuring WinnCompanies’ The Residences at Wells School, an innovative senior living community in Southbridge, M.A. This asset was formerly a high school built in 1916, but it has been gut renovated and now houses 62 open-concept units. Our client wanted to preserve some historical elements of the property but knew the building needed a 21st century upgrade to attract prospective residents.

We had so much fun working on this project and are thrilled to share it with you!


Phase 1: Model Apartment Design


Wells School Phase 1: Model Apartment Design

During our vision call with the WinnCo team, we learned that their prospects are active, cultured, sophisticated, and family-oriented seniors. Many of them are younger baby boomers who commute to nearby cities for work. Some are older empty nesters who enjoy a slower day-to-day pace.

These prospective residents collectively want a community that offers an array of amenities—both communal and private—including breakfast bars and designated dining spaces.

To satisfy prospects’ sophisticated tastes, the client requested a model apartment design that was elevated yet accessible, with a transitional style that incorporated traditional and contemporary elements. They wanted wingback chairs, oriental-inspired rugs, dramatic art, and luxurious bedding to appeal to prospective residents. Neutral wall colors and subdued lighting, they reasoned, would bring in elements of comfort and relaxation.

Knowing that the model apartment would need to attract residents 55+, our designer selected neutral, comfortable base elements with an air of nostalgia, like the classic wingback chair (#8). This statement piece marries style and function—its size big and bold and its form accessible to seniors of all ages.

To capture the traditional but updated feel the client was looking for, our design team included dignified accent pieces, like the traditional windsor dining chairs (#12), paired with a sleek and modern piece, like the tulip dining table (#11). These complementary design pieces checked the box for transitional style as well. A classic oriental rug (#10) ties the entire room together.

The contrast of the preserved historical elements like the existing gym floor against the modern common space furnishings inspired our team to mix wood tones throughout the model apartment. To further reinforce the twist on classic design, they kept certain features neutral and added vibrant jewel tones, like deep navy blue, and cranberry red for a pop of color.

In keeping with the current trend of biophilic design, greenery was incorporated throughout the model apartment, including a lush fiddle fig tree that brings the peace and tranquility of the outdoors inside.

Phase 2: Fulfillment and Installation


With an approved design in hand and products on order, Model55’s logistics team took over. They tracked, consolidated, and stored all deliveries, inspecting each item carefully as part of our comprehensive quality assurance process.

Meanwhile, the construction of the community was well underway.


During this time, Model55 coordinated our teams and prepared product for installation so that we’d be ready to stage the model apartment as soon as the client gave the green light. When installation day arrived, our white glove delivery team carefully unpacked and assembled all items before removing all packaging and debris from the premises.

The next day, our local staging partner arrived to complete all the finishing touches, like making the bed, hanging curtains, and positioning accessories.

We couldn’t be happier with the end result!


From conception to completion, Model55’s interior design services fulfill the needs of communities and their prospective residents. Looking for help with your next model? Contact us today to discuss our comprehensive model apartment design solutions.

Sharon MacDonald
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