Meet Dogwood Forest’s Interior Designer


Posted by Kia Crawford on June 1st, 2016 in Interior Design | No Comments

At Dogwood Forest, we make sure our assisted living communities never feel institutional like medical facilities. Rather, we work hard to make them feel like one big house, where all of our residents feel like a family that lives together. At the heart of our efforts is our interior designer, Laurie Holbrook. Since the 1990s, she has been working with Solomon Holdings, the parent company of Dogwood Forest, to create a warm, welcoming environment.

Early Roots in Design

Since she was young, Laurie has had a dream of being an interior designer. In the 1980s, she worked for Trammell Crow Interior Contractors. At that time, she had just married Al, who is now the chairman of Solomon Holdings. Fast forward about a decade, and Al was laying the foundations of the modern assisted living industry. He had hired an interior designer that was scheduled to do all of the prototypes. However, they were not very appealing. LoriInterview

That interior designer had a long background in nursing homes. As such, the prototypes she presented were like being in a hospital; the environment was starkly white and medical in nature. Laurie, on the other hand, thought it should have more of a house feel, so she gradually took on more and more responsibility of the design work. She ultimately ended up doing the whole thing over the span of five to seven years. That design work led to the creation of Abbey Hall LLC, which focuses exclusively on Dogwood Forest and other Solomon Holdings projects.

Function Above All

The original Dogwood Forest was a predesigned property that was purchased. Solomon Holdings was not the developer or the architect, and they didn’t have any input into the building at all. Nonetheless, they bought the property and renovated it. Laurie leans heavily on the operators to help her understand what they need for their buildings, including how to make them function better.

Function is key. Once that is established, Laurie adds her aesthetic to the improvement of function. As far as the new buildings, one of her main focuses is a lot of light. She thinks carefully about the relationship of spaces, how things inform each other’s space so that it makes sense and for our staff, for functionality and for the residents. It’s kind of being termed now as evidence-based design on healthcare, which is a major factor in today’s assisted living industry.

Looking for Inspiration

Laurie tries to understand the area that the buildings are located, wherever they are, and add that aesthetic to her designs. For instance, at Dogwood Forest in Alpharetta, the area is known for horse farms. So, she leaned heavily on that kind of feel of a horse farm aesthetic outside and inside. Acworth is known for its lake, so she did do a lot of art that had that as a theme.

The rooms themselves are even more intensive. Rather than thumbing through a catalog, they go out and find furniture. They find pieces from antique stores as well as new pieces from furniture stores to create an authentic feeling space that a resident and family member can relate to. As always, functionality is key, which includes making sure all the furniture is the right size for the space. They invest a sizeable time and money toward making sure everything works together.

Looking Toward the Future

The newest Dogwood Forest community will be in Grayson, slated to open in 2017. It is relatively similar to the building in Acworth. It’s going to have a different shell, so to speak — that is, a different façade. It’s going to be even more residential in looks than Acworth, but it’s still going to have the rustic stone and timber aesthetic.

There’s certain lessons always learned with every building. One of the most valuable things is post-move in evaluations with staff and understanding what works and what could have been done better. Laurie has worked to improve certain aspects that will be incorporated at Grayson, especially with regards to the pharmacy and multi-purpose rooms.

With Laurie heading our interior design, we know our current and future Dogwood Forest assisted living centers will be some of the best in the Atlanta area. She is constantly working to renovate the current communities to make sure they stay up to date with current aesthetic and scientific innovations. For more information about our communities and how we can help you or a loved one, visit our website or contact us today.