Laurie Gorelick Interiors


What We Can Learn From Health Care Design

When I was in Memphis for the Blogger 19 reunion sponsored by Brizo, we toured not only St. Jude Children's Research Hospital but also Target House, a residential facility designed for families with a child undergoing long-term treatment at St. Jude. I've studied interior design for health care environments, but have had only limited first-hand exposure to these environments (fortunately!). The tour of Target House opened my eyes to the way a patient's environment can influence his or her health and well-being. We can all learn by taking an in-depth look at Target House's interiors.

Noticeable immediately upon entering was the abundance of natural light and color in the interior spaces. Light and color energize spaces, and this was evident throughout. Family apartments have large exterior picture windows. Furnishings are modest, but color abounds.


                                       Target House Apartment--Living Room, left, and Master Bedroom, right


                                                 Target House Apartment--Bathroom, left, and children's bedroom, right

Flooring is resilient and seamless to create an anti-microbial environment. For the same reason, wallpaper is absent. In this music room, below, donated by country-singer Amy Grant, the wall pattern above the wainscot is made with stencils and paint.


Major design gestures in Target House are aimed at creating an engaging environment for patients and their families. There's an adorable playroom for children. But what was really impressive was the lounge created for teens. Outfitted with a pool table, flat screen TV, Rock Band video-game gear and high-top tables, it's a place where teenage patients can hang out with their peers and interact like normal teenagers.



                                                                     Target House Teen Lounge

Again, note the contrast and variety of surfacing materials, all designed to create an uplifting yet germ-free environment.

Relaxation spaces are abundant in Target House. Many have been donated by entertainers, following in the footsteps of St. Jude's founder, Danny Thomas. Each donor has free rein to design his or her space within the parameters of a healthcare environment. I'm not a major country-music fan, but the lounge that appealed to me most was done by Brad Paisley. Paisley's room had a country music and western vibe.



Two of my favorite features in the space were the cowhide-style FLOR carpet tiles (under the pool table above) and the fabulous ceiling light fixture (below) created with electric guitars.


Even in an environment that has obvious constraints, Paisley's design features light, variety, texture, contrast and balance. What good design should.