Designer Products for Your New Normal

Design Your Space in a Safe Way

The need to socially distance should not preclude connectivity and beauty. Design Alternatives can offer many options including a screen, divider and partitioning solutions to achieve privacy without seclusion and are versatile, adaptable and configurable.

They are easy to clean and sanitize and relevant for hospitality, healthcare, retail, institutional, educational and residential environments. They divide spaces and create privacy, while at the same time, maintain a delightfully connected whole by extending, distributing and maximizing ambient and daytime light.

Design Alternatives is here to help

We’re all in this together. What do you need to make your workplace safer and comply with government mandates to keep your employees clients, and residents safe?

We can help – Call 732.244.7778 or email

Refresh Your Facility with Resimercial Design Fundamentals 

Today, facilities have very different expectations in terms of design features and amenities than they did five years ago. Interior designers have begun to implement various design strategies to meet the changing needs of facilities. In order to increase sales by creating a warm and inviting space as well as commercially functional and durable, resimercial design has become a preferred design when renovating or creating a new public space.


Resimercial design can be described as a layout, finish and/ or furnishing style that brings together the feeling of home with the use of residential design aesthetic and commercial quality materials. It is also referred to as a hybrid of residential interior design and commercial design. Resimercial design values commercial quality products with residential-inspired features over the standardized feel of corporate furnishings and finishes.


Variability. Comfort and character are the driving forces in resimercial design, but many people define these aspects differently. From an open floor plan that helps to facilitate group activities, to a quiet secluded space where residents can drown out noise, to a relaxing informal area where people can sit and chat – each design style has a place in a public gathering environment.

Longevity. This coming together of what were traditionally two very different markets can largely be credited to contract furniture manufacturers taking cues from crafted hospitality and residential furniture. Residential furniture provides softer lines and a combination of materials that have a more handcrafted feel. In contrast, commercial furniture has historically been bulkier and more monolithic in order to satisfy the functional requirements of high traffic wear and tear. Years ago, the majority of residential fabrics and furniture were not created for high-volume use and couldn’t be used in public spaces, such as a Clubhouse. Now, many manufacturers and suppliers offer residential-inspired furniture and fabrics that are of commercial quality.

Furniture designers and artisans are creating pieces that support an array of postures and resemble the soft curves and textures that you may find in a home. Integrity and durability are key when looking to incorporate residential furnishings for commercial use. Residential furniture is not made for multiple people sitting on it for long periods of time, so it is going to show wear and tear much sooner. Also, they often don’t carry the same warranties, weight capacity, flammability testing, or stain and wear resistance.

Manufacturers have done a great job at answering that call and thinking outside the box, in producing furniture that looks more like art, while still being functional and durable. The availability of those decorative yet functional pieces at any price point has allowed commercial interior designers far more freedom and flexibility in creating interesting spaces.
When blending residential and commercial aesthetics, Design Alternatives specifies soft seating in subdued colors, such as browns and grays. The warmer palette offers the ‘homey’ feel. Additionally, lighting, accessories, wall and window treatments play a critical role in creating that comfortable atmosphere.

Commercial fabric manufacturers have started to soften offerings that are exceedingly durable, incorporating more residential patterns. Overall, this offers a far more inviting look and feel to the way contract furniture sits in a room. Seating doesn’t appear to be as stiff or rigid through the use of both softer lines and softer cushions.

All Aspects of the Design. Clients are asking for lobbies and collaborative areas in their facilities that feel more like living room spaces to encourage a level of comfortability that was largely absent. People enjoy and want to spend time in an environment where they feel comfortable and small changes to these details will help to make your facility feel more inviting and comfortable. The use of technology in all gathering spaces is also now incorporated into all spaces and an entire topic all by itself!!


Creating a friendly, functional and inviting environment — whether in a lobby, card room, bistro, etc. — will only continue as the Resimercial trend’s popularity grows. The “residential feeling” and use of appropriate interior design finishes while choosing the right pieces of furniture and accents to make this design work is imperative.

If you would like to incorporate resimercial Design in your clubhouse, lobby, office or facility, contact Design Alternatives for a free on-site consultation.

Baby Boomers – Are You Safe at Home?

by Carrie Fusella

One of the most important tasks we can do as baby bombers today is to make sure we are getting our home environment ready for our coming mature years.  The goal is to stay in our homes and age with grace, comfort and safety.  At Design Alternatives Commercial Interior Design Firm, we are contracted every year to renovate and provide designs that add in the solution of function, beauty, aesthetics and safety.   We specialize in Senior Living, Active Adult Communities, Hospitality and Healthcare with a focus on clubhouses, lobby’s, ballrooms, hotel rooms, spas/ locker rooms, offices, etc.

There are some important considerations to make when you need to prepare your home/ living environment for the future.  These very important pointers will help you stay safely in your home as long as possible.

Kitchen and laundry room safety list

  • 36-inch-wide doors for easy access or pocket doors
  • Multi-height, rounded-edge countertops to enable residents to work standing or seated
  • Color-contrast front edges on countertops to help prevent spills
  • Clear counter space next to sink and all appliances
  • Space for a chair under sink or cooktop for seated users
  • Easy-access storage, such as  pull-out pantry or adjustable-height shelving
  • Stove-top water access to fill pots
  • Bright, non-glare task lighting over sink, stove, and work areas
  • Anti-scald faucet with lever-style handle
  • D-shaped or pull-style cabinet and drawer handles
  • Easy-glide drawers that close automatically
  • Drawer-style dishwasher or raised platform under dishwasher to reduce bending
  • Easy-access side-by-side refrigerator/freezer or under-counter, drawer-style refrigerator
  • Front-mounted appliance controls that are highly visible or can be operated by touch
  • Built-in storage space for easy-access and removable recyclables and trash
  • Electrical outlets 18 inches off the floor
  • Extra electrical outlets for small appliances; some outlets located under countertops for easy access
  • Rocker-style light switches, 42 inches off the floor
  • Easily accessible garbage-disposal switch
  • Laundry on main floor
  • Front-loading washer and dryer, stacked or on raised platform to reduce bending, with accessible controls on front
  • Laundry sink and countertop no more than 34 inches above floor with knee space below for seated users
  • Bright task-lighting in laundry
  • Wall-mounted folding table that lies flat when not in use
  • Non-slip flooring

Bathroom safety check list

  • 36-inch-wide door for easy access, or pocket door
  • Rocker-style light switches, 42 inches off the floor
  • Lever handle, anti-scald faucets on sink, bathtub, and shower
  • No threshold walk-in or roll-in shower with minimum dimensions 5 feet by 3 feet (4 feet preferred)
  •   Hand-held, adjustable-height showerhead with easily operable controls
  • Maneuvering space that accommodates a 60-inch turning radius
  • Toilet centered 18 inches from any side wall, tub, or cabinet
  • Toilet seat 17 to 19 inches off floor for older persons, lower for children
  • Grab bars or wall-blocking for future installation in tub, shower and near toilet
  • Knee space under sink for seated users
  • Easy-glide drawers that close automatically
  • Countertops with rounded edges
  • Bright, non-glare lighting
  • Reduced-slip tile or non-skid floor
  • D-shaped or pull-style cabinet and drawer handles
  • Full-length and/or tilted mirror that can be used seated or standing
  • Towel bars, soap and toothbrush holders 48 inches off floor
  • Sink bowl mounted close to front edge of vanity for easier use while seated
  • Integral transfer seat in tub and built-in bench or shower chair in shower
  • Electrical outlets 18 inches off the floor

Den and living room safety list

  • 36-inch-wide doors for easy access, or pocket doors
  • Level flooring throughout the house
  • Easy-touch, rocker-style light switches 42 inches off the floor
  • Electrical outlets 18 inches off the floor
  • Seating at least 18 inches off the floor
  • Extra electrical outlets to accommodate future technology or medical-equipment needs
  • Rearrange furniture and remove any clutter to allow for clear, wide passageways

Stairways and halls saftey list

  • Handrails on both sides of stairs, interior and exterior
  • No open, see-through risers on stairs
  • Deep stair treads, to accommodate entire foot
  • Contrasting color at front edge of steps, to provide visual orientation, or non-slip adhesive strips
  • 4-foot-wide stairway to accommodate future chairlift
  • Bright, non-glare lighting in hallways and stairwells
  • Easy-touch, rocker-style light switches at top and bottom of stairs, 42 inches off floor
  • Electrical outlets 18 inches off the floor
  • Replace or remove any worn or torn carpeting


Embarking on a redesign of a ballroom or special event venue can easily turn into a complicated, hard-to-navigate process. A special event venue is not just a space, it is an area where potential clients want to create memorable moments. Design Alternatives understands the importance of planning a space that can help bring a business’ vision to life, while also guaranteeing a satisfactory return on investment.

Company founder Carrie Fusella is here to present some elements a business needs to consider when designing a space, and why it is best to leave this endeavor to industry professionals.

Identifying the Purpose and Market

An important first step to designing a special event space is to identify the venue’s purpose. A company needs to establish what the venue will be used for, and who the target market will be. Whether an event space is eventually designated as a wedding facility or corporate meeting facility, its purpose can greatly impact the overall design of a space.

With a venue’s set purpose in mind, an industry professional can identify what course of action is needed to best design a venue. Design Alternatives has worked with countless special-event locations to create a space that perfectly captures the needs of its target market.

A banquet facility or special-event venue, for example, is a space that needs to have a lot of thought and planning put into it. If weddings are going to generate the most revenue, then a professional will want to design with a young bride in mind. However, if the venue will generate the majority of its income from a communion or bar mitzvah celebration, the target audience and design, will be different.

Fitting the Venue to Your Brand

When designing a special event venue, the goal is to create a space that will offer your company the greatest return on investment. A smart interior designer will know exactly how to give a client the best design that will meet the needs of their target market and offer them the look, feel and longevity to curate an attractive, profitable space.

Once a company determines what its number one source of income will be, an industry professional can identify a design direction. By creating a layout and space that will attract the most clients, a professional can fit the overall cost to the return on the investment.  

An interior design professional should always work to offer the best possible recommendations and ideas for a space. In short, to plan for the future, special event venues need to take steps to figure out the amount of revenue their business is going to generate, and when the return on investment is going to occur.

Space Planning

Space planning is a significant part of the design process for any venue, especially for weddings. Any change made to a space, no matter how small, can have a huge impact on the way a potential client reacts to the venue. A professional commercial interior design firm such as Design Alternatives can help determine what elements a venue truly needs.

Every event has a different look, feel and overall goal, and each element that is incorporated into a design can lead a venue closer to a company’s overall vision, or stray further away from it.  Not only does one need to think about the functionality of a space, but they also need to consider the lighting, sound, furniture and other elements as well. Working with a professional can help determine that a venue may need multiple finishes, a carpet that wears well, or a bright color scheme to add an extra element of flair. There should also be discussions with lighting and sound specialists that know exactly how to amplify the ambiance and mood a space is looking to achieve.

It is important to recognize that there is more to designing a venue than just decorating a room. A special event venue needs to have the ability to deliver an enjoyable, memorable experience for clients. Valuable memories need to be created out of a one-day experience. With that in mind, there is a lot to consider.

When working with a business, a professional interior design firm should determine exactly what a venue needs for its clients to make long-lasting memories. This can include considerations like where a photo booth can be located in the venue, as well as an area where clients can stage pictures. Proper seating and a thought-out floor plan are other important decisions a commercial interior design firm should weigh in on in order to properly incorporate a variety of stations and experiences into a single event space.

Working With a Budget

Before bringing a vision to life for a venue, a business needs to identify what kind of budget it has to work with. By hiring an interior design firm, a company can understand how realistic its goals are for the space it wants to redesign.

In order to get the best return on your investment, you need a professional that understands the industry and is able to budget the project in the most effective way possible. When hiring a professional or company, the venue owners and managers should be able to comfortably discuss the budget they have available. Then, it is up to the design professional to consult on what can be achieved with that specific budget.

Budget goals can be achieved when a venue and a design vendor create a priority list.  From this list, a realistic and effective budget can be developed. Industry professionals like Design Alternatives know how to be practical, while also helping special-event venues accomplish their goals.

For more information and guidance about special event and ballroom design, contact Design Alternatives at 732-224-7778. To see examples of ballroom and special event venues, visit our portfolio page.


Good commercial interior design encourages guests, residents, and potential customers, or whomever your target market may be, to learn more about your business.  

No matter what, it is important to make your commercial establishment stand out.  In order to do this, you must be open to keeping things fresh and re-visiting your design inspiration from time to time.  Most importantly, think about good commercial interior design as an opportunity to tell your brand’s story.

As one of New Jersey’s top commercial interior design firms, Design Alternatives founder Carrie Fusella is sharing some important design considerations when it comes to evaluating whether your commercial space match’s your brand’s identity and how to know when it is time for a new look.  

Know When It is Time for A Change

Many times, property managers or facility owners can get complacent in how interior design is affecting their space. Dated finishes, old or sometimes damaged furniture, and worn-out pieces are important indications that it is time for a revamp or renovation. These items, in particular, can make it look like the facility doesn’t care about the space or the people living or working in it.  

The best spaces speak to a brand’s overall ethos while also being a representation of the people they serve or the community that lives there.  Impactful commercial interior design should be a projection of the company’s brand standards and values coupled with a high regard for capturing the spirit of your clients and the true essence of the space.

If you look around your space and feel it looks dated, it probably is.  Don’t be afraid to take a step back, evaluate the space as a whole, and discuss with a professional what can be improved upon and evolved to better represent your brand, and meet current design standards and facility needs.

Function STILL matters

Great commercial interior design is a balance between form and function.

As a building gets older, its intended use may change.  Or, the population may have grown and there is a new need to re-evaluate how the space is used.

Design Alternatives always addresses the function of the building, in addition to its overall appearance.  This requires having a master plan that clearly outlines the affordability and feasibility of the project and then addresses the design themes to integrate into the overall aesthetic.  

Further, your commercial interior design firm should always give you options when it comes to functionality and affordability.  The possibilities when it comes to commercial interior design renovations can be endless. It is wise to approach every project with a plan A, B and C in terms of pricing that can address immediate and long-term needs and determine the overall scope of the project.  From there, your master plan can inform how you stage a space, whether you move walls, or update a facility’s living areas.

Less is more

“Less is more” is minimalism’s mantra: a very popular style that is based on introducing the least number of design elements and preserving space.  It is also the hallmark of timeless design.

To embrace this design philosophy, think about the bones of the building and focus on updating accessories and finishes that reflect design-cycle trends while maintaining the overall integrity of the space.  Yes, current trends are important to consider, but you should also think about the longevity of your brand and the longevity of the space. Jumping on the latest and greatest design trend doesn’t always mean they will stand the test of time.  

The industry also plays a factor.  For example, the design cycle in the hospitality industry is every seven years, plus or minus, while some corporate offices mandate a re-vamp every seven to 10 years.  Senior living facilities can sometimes go as long as 12 to 15 years before they really need a renovation to enhance the allure and profitability of a community.

Dependent on who or what you are designing for, you can make important commercial interior design enhancements while maintaining the overall integrity of the space and its intended use.  This means not always turning to the hottest design trends but thinking about efficiency, longevity and overall use, and creating a design plan from there. Remember, minimalist decor is defined by the simplicity and elegance of its forms, so it should be clean and generate harmony between all the parts that comprise the space.

Change things up based on the NEED

Whether it be a boutique hotel, a special-event ballroom or a senior living facility or clubhouse, it is important to create a warm and welcoming environment.  This is achieved by really honing in on the standard you are looking to create and selecting a commercial interior design partner that can help get you there. This also means the aesthetics need to be both beautiful and elegant, while also strategically applied to fit the needs of the space – including its residents, guests, and workforce.

For example, if you are renovating a senior-living facility, open floor plans, wide hallways, and familiar spaces for elder residents are all important needs that should be considered.  This layout isn’t the only design aspect that contributes to the atmosphere of the facility, however. When designing for a senior environment, it’s not just about what the interior designer likes, it’s about what will make the residents comfortable and help them navigate the space. This can often mean ignoring trends popular in other environments or industries. Browns, for example, are popular in private residences, but they can turn to black for an older eye. This is only one of the considerations a commercial interior design firm needs to think about when designing for specific audiences like the elder community.

Keep Your Branding Guidelines in Mind

Brand guidelines determine how the elements that make up your brand are used and fundamentally dictate how your business communicates with your intended target market. They are a set of rules to create a unified identity when connecting multiple elements within your brand, including but not limited to color palettes, logos and typography.

A brand’s look and feel is what sets it apart from its competition.  In a competitive industry like travel and hospitality, incorporating brand standards into regional design aesthetics is a must.  For example, a hotel chain will not tell a Florida facility that they have to have the exact same look and feel of a sister venue in Minneapolis.  While the overall brand is the same, the regional needs and anticipated uses for the space are different. This is why it is essential that you work with a commercial interior design firm that can develop a public space that fits the region and supports the overall brand aesthetic.

In other instances, brand standards for a single-venue client may not exist. This is when firms like Design Alternatives collaborate with clients to create one.  This includes defining the look, feel, and overall quality to create a design standard that can be referenced and implemented for years to come.

To learn more about Design Alternatives, or view our recent work, please visit our portfolio page.

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