The Time of your Later Life

The Time of your Later Life

Sue Timney reveals her exciting plans for interiors at Wallacea Living

Words by Liz Skone James

Retirement needn’t mean slowing down, with life expectancy now longer than ever, when you downsize your home, it should be an opportunity to upsize your life, believes Sue Timney, Wallacea Living’s creative director

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In Marylebone, a brand-new residential complex is taking shape, one that is designed to provide an environment where residents can make later life the time of their lives. The first high-end retirement community from Wallacea Living is due to open in early 2026 and promises to offer unparalleled living spaces that embody luxury, culture, and design – environments that not only inspire but also enhance the quality of everyday life. Luxury apartments will marry a thoughtfully curated mid-century aesthetic with practicality – think reinforced walls in the bathrooms to allow for the installation of aids if necessary, and hide and slide oven doors that help to prevent burns. And every apartment will be fitted with an emergency response system that incorporates unobtrusive movement sensors.

Meanwhile, fostering a sense of community, public spaces will include tranquil landscaped gardens, a swimming pool and spa, restaurant, private cinema, and library bar. A curated programme of inclusive events will focus on wellbeing and encourage homeowners to make the most of the freedom that retirement brings, whether that means taking up a new hobby, or indulging one they have not been able to commit enough time to previously. And the location, moments from the shops, restaurants, theatres, and many amenities of the West End, ensures residents can continue to enjoy the London life they love for as long as they are able to. Simultaneously maintaining current social networks and enjoying new ones.

Wallacea Living Sue Timney, Wallacea Living’s Creative Director

Responsible for bringing this concept to life is award-winning interior designer Sue Timney, who, as creative director at Wallacea Living, has been working on plans for the development with architectural and interior design firm Jestico + Whiles. We sat down to talk about her background and her vision.

Tell us a little about your background
After completing a degree in Fine Art at Newcastle University, I went on to do a postgraduate degree at Edinburgh University, and then a masters degree at the Royal College of Art (the RCA) in London. Whilst completing my masters, in the early eighties, I was given the opportunity to go to Japan. My time there taught me everything I know about design, interiors and working as a team; I was there on a travelling scholarship and my first client was Issey Miyake, whom I ended up consulting with for over twenty years. I learnt so much from him. Some of the other clients and designers I have worked with over the years include well-known names like Paul Smith, Sam Mendes and the McCartney family, as well as organisations such as The British Red Cross and the WWF. The latter necessitated a different way of working, looking more at the wider world. I love the mix of challenges and thrills that have come with such a broad scope of work.

How did you come to be involved with Wallacea Living?
Throughout my working life I have remained close to the RCA. I was made a visiting professor and fellow there, and I am also currently a visiting fellow of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the RCA, focusing on age and diversity, which I love. It means that when I was offered the chance to become creative director at Wallacea Living, it felt like the perfect opportunity to work with a wonderful group of like-minded people in the business of design excellence and luxury living in later life. The research work I do within inclusion and design for ageing shapes the way that I think about how functionality and the beauty of good design come together.

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Describe your vision for how the space will look and what has inspired your plans?
At Wallacea Living we are focused on good design that evokes a feeling of wellbeing. In the past, spaces that were designed for the retirement community had a tendency to feel utilitarian and patronising, we are determined that this is not the case here. Rather, we want the design to feel comfortable, welcoming and, most importantly, ageless. We have steered away from an overly hotel-like aesthetic that can lend itself to a beautiful but often neutral and bland space, instead we have focused on using tone, colour and surface textures to create a richness of design. All of which combines to create a space that people feel intrinsically happy to inhabit.

Tell us about the public spaces
Our main public spaces are particularly important as it is here that we are really trying to foster a sense of community. We have incorporated locally sourced art and artefacts into the design, to reflect how we would like to integrate with the neighbourhood and join together as a community. We hope these pieces will inspire a desire to learn new ways of thinking and making, too – something that will be reinforced by the programme of events that will run in these spaces. Pets are welcome here, and the benefits of this are enormous: the power of pets to bring people together, to enhance our lives, and to decrease stress is well proven. We also have wonderfully quiet, contemplative spaces, too, where there will be a sense of intimate indulgence. Our library of books, for example, covers the whole range of topics from food, travel and the natural world, to art, design and biographies. The selection reflects the range of homeowners who will be living at Wallacea and the different life experiences and viewpoints they will bring to the community here. In fact, there are so many wonderful books, that I intend to put some time aside myself, to sit and read with a good cup of coffee and a slice of cake.

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How will your designs elevate the later living experience?
My vision extends far beyond conventional interior design. I personally understand and appreciate that we’re not simply creating another living space; we’re crafting an entirely new lifestyle and I intend to further infuse a sense of independence and luxury into the living experience here. I want to introduce exciting new design elements and activities that will enhance the overall ambiance and elevate the residents’ daily lives. A big part of this comes through curating spaces that foster a strong sense of community. I can’t wait for people to see what we have been doing here.