Optima® Voices: Interview with Emily Etland, Chicago Regional Manager at Optima®

Optima® Voices: Conversations with Our Property Teams is a series that brings you closer to the individuals who make our communities thrive. Through these interviews, we’re shedding light on the dedicated staff behind the seamless operation of Optima®’s properties, highlighting their passion, experiences, and the personal touches they bring to enhancing the living experience for residents. Join us as we explore the stories of those who deliver — day in and day out — the quality of living that makes Optima communities extraordinary. Today, we’re talking with Emily Etland, Chicago Regional Manager at Optima®.

Tell us a bit about your background and the role you play at Optima®.
I have been in property management for about 20 years.  I started in leasing and have worked in many different roles, at many different property types.  Most of my life was spent in New Orleans, and I moved to Chicago about 4 years ago.  While I’ve spent the last few years in the fee management side of property management, I was excited to join Optima® to work directly for a company that is fully involved with each of their assets from the start.  While each of my days at Optima® is different, my role as Regional Property Manager involves overseeing our 3 Chicago area properties — Optima Signature®, Optima Lakeview®, and Optima Verdana® — and their daily operations.  This can range from their financial performance, to staff performance, to building operations and so much more.  I also act as the conduit between our site and executive teams, ensuring our site teams always have a voice.

How did you begin your journey at Optima®?
I actually began my journey at Optima only seven months ago.  While I wasn’t really on a job hunt, a recruiter reached out to me about the position and piqued my interest and we spoke a bit.  After that, I had an in-person meeting with our Director of Operations, Jamie Springer, and learned what she feels makes Optima® unique.  I then had a chance to meet with two of our SVPs and the rest is history!

What drew you to Optima® initially?
When I first moved to Chicago, I took a position as Property Manager. With being new to the city, I wanted to get to know the market by being on-site and working directly with a single team. As I grew to know Chicago, I wanted to return to a regional role that I had played in New Orleans. The opportunity at Optima presented an exciting opportunity for me to not only oversee a group of communities, but to work for a company that is vertically aligned. So today, I’m part of a team where everyone works from start to finish to ensure a project is always developed and maintained to a high standard.

Optima® has a unique set of values that differentiates it from other company cultures. How does that affect the quality of your work life? What values matter most to you?
I think Optima®’s values serve as a solid anchor in some of the tougher situations that we face.  I can’t count how many times we’ll be struggling through a problem and someone will quote one of our values as a way forward, like “there is a solution to every problem” or “do the right thing even when it’s hard.”  And while we often share a laugh afterwards, the fact that we’ve all internalized these values is so powerful, and personally gives me the conviction to stop and adjust my attitude and approach to overcome doubt or a sense of defeat.

Of all the Optima® values, my favorite is “be bold.” It pairs with each of the other values…and amplifies them.  Or stands all on its own.  And it perfectly captures everything I do each day.

How do you view the concept of community at Optima®? How does it differ from other property management companies you’ve worked with?
It’s interesting, every property management company I’ve worked for has done events and strived to create a unique brand for each community, while aligning with the larger management brand.  What is different about Optima® is as soon as you walk into one of our buildings, you know you’re in an Optima® designed space because of the extraordinary modern design. But how do you know you’re in an Optima® community?  That’s all in the people.  As a team, we are completely focused on making sure our residents feel at home. As a result, our relationships begin long before our residents move in, when we reach out to conduct “getting to know you” calls to discover their interests, so we can be ready to provide them with the best experience possible from Day One. Because of these early connections, we’re able to curate events that cater to residents’ priorities, and help organize the clubs that reflect what people care about — book clubs, mahjong, pickleball, game nights and so on.  Living in an Optima® building is being part of a community, a place that feels like home.  Building strong, lasting relationships is at the core of what we do, and a staple in how we build community for our residents.

What are some things you’re learning since joining Optima®?
Since joining Optima®, I’ve been so impressed with just how much architecture can lead even the day-to-day operations of the property management side of the business. From terms we use to highlight things on a tour, to how we hang art in our models — so much detail!

What makes you most proud to be a part of the Optima® team?
I’m proud to be part of a team that wants to grow based on things we’re learning, and responding to areas that need improvement. Things at Optima® move fast (speed and detail set us apart), but it’s because we’re constantly evolving so that we’re able to execute things at the highest level possible.  We never want to settle for a mediocre result, we want to provide the best to our residents and our team.

Optima® Voices: Interview with Tracy Ratdavong, Assistant Property Manager at Optima Verdana®

Optima® Voices: Conversations with Our Property Teams is a series that brings you closer to the individuals who make our communities thrive. Through these interviews, we’re shedding light on the dedicated staff behind the seamless operation of Optima’s properties, highlighting their passion, experiences, and the personal touches they bring to enhancing the living experience for residents. Join us as we explore the stories of those who deliver — day in and day out — the quality of living that makes Optima communities extraordinary. Today, we’re talking with Tracy Ratdavong, Assistant Property Manager at Optima Verdana®.

Tell us a bit about your background and the role you play at Optima Verdana.
I started in leasing and property management in Michigan very early in my professional career with a goal of moving to Chicago. In order to make this geographic move, I spent a few years in sales and technical recruiting. In one of my placements, I was recruiting candidates for a property management position and stayed connected with the individual who was eventually hired. I stayed in touch with her — only to find that she later recruited me for an assistant property manager role!

I feel like everything in my professional background has happened for a reason, including giving me the skills I need to manage lease-up and retain residents, provide great customer service, form lasting relationships, and build a strong team.

How did you begin your journey at Optima Verdana?
Prior to Optima Verdana, I assisted in managing two buildings that gave me exposure to the Illinois market. I heard great things about Optima and when I saw an opening, I immediately applied for the position. From the first meeting with the team, I felt an instant connection, which sparked my interest in working for such a great company. Every conversation I had during the interview process felt genuine and everyone on the team expressed how Optima cares equally for their residents and for their employees. I joined the team in May 2023 when Optima Verdana® opened to the public. Since then, I have been a part of the journey with the development and completion of this beautiful community, as we welcomed our first residents in August and completed construction in November.

What drew you to Optima Verdana initially?
I was really drawn to the Optima Verdana team from our very first conversation.  Everyone was so welcoming and had nothing but great things to say. They made me feel like they were truly happy in their roles and that made me excited to have a chance to be a part of that team.  I also really loved the fact that all our design, development, and management is all in-house. This really made me feel like I was going to have a real voice in managing this new community and that my ideas could help contribute to the success of our new building.

How do you view the concept of community at Optima Verdana? How does it differ from other properties/buildings?
To me when I hear community, I think of togetherness — and at Optima Verdana, it truly feels like everyone is family. We have residents who meet up throughout the week for pickleball and on the Sky Deck just to enjoy each other’s company. And because so many of our residents have been with us since the very beginning, they love coming by our office, excited to share great news about their lives. This is unlike anywhere I have ever worked or lived. We strive to provide the best service to our residents and give them not only a home, but a lifestyle catered to their individual needs. At Optima Verdana, we are a true community, and our team and residents work together to create an inviting environment that feels like home.

Optima® has a unique set of values that differentiates it from other company cultures. How does that affect the quality of your work life? What values matter most to you?
Building strong lasting relationships has always been important to me and with Optima, everyone applies this together as a team and with our residents.

The support I have gotten from my team and management has helped me grow in so many ways. Everyone wants to help each other succeed and this value flows every day into the Optima culture. I believe you are who you surround yourself with and here at Optima, across all the various properties and corporate offices, we are an incredibly strong team, and we inspire each other.

What are some things you’re learning since joining the Optima Verdana team?
By being connected with our entire team, I have learned so much from every group. Starting from my early days at Optima, I was part of the construction meetings. I learned about the development and overall project management, which has helped me understand Optima Verdana in much greater depth. It has given me more knowledge so I can speak with current and future residents with more confidence and detail. Since welcoming our first residents, I have learned something new every day. I routinely work with our marketing, accounting, and asset management teams, which has pushed me out of my comfort zone to undertake new challenges. This has been rewarding in so many ways and I continue to open my mind to the endless possibilities at Optima.

What makes you most proud to be a part of the Optima Verdana team?
I am most proud to represent a team that strives to give the best and be the best. Everyone cares and encourages each other. Optima has built an incredible reputation and continues to stand out in terms of architectural design, concern for sustainability, attracting and retaining exceptional professionals, and providing a great place to work. I take pride in saying I work for such an amazing company!


Optima® Voices: Conversation with Aleks Milic, Leasing Manager at Optima Kierland Apartments®

Optima® Voices: Conversations with Our Property Teams” is a series that brings you closer to the individuals who make our communities thrive. Through these interviews, we’re shedding light on the dedicated staff behind the seamless operation of Optima®’s properties, highlighting their passion, experiences, and the personal touches they bring to enhancing the living experience for residents. Join us as we explore the stories of those who deliver — day in and day out — the quality of living that makes Optima communities extraordinary. Today, we’re talking with Aleks Milic, Leasing Manager at Optima Kierland Apartments®.

Tell us a bit about your background and the role you play at Optima Kierland®.
I arrived in the US from Switzerland in 2018, and I have accumulated four years of experience in Property Management. My primary responsibility here at Optima Kierland® is to ensure that all of our towers are occupied at 93%. Additionally, I lead a leasing team of three, overseeing the “sales” aspect of our property management operations.

How did you begin your journey at Optima Kierland®?
I wasn’t actively seeking another job opportunity, but when Megan from People Experience reached out to me via LinkedIn, I couldn’t resist listening to what Optima® had to offer. Approaching my fourth year in Arizona, everyone is aware that Optima® is a unique community known for providing exceptional customer service and offering an array of amazing amenities.

What drew you to Optima Kierland® initially?
Following my interviews, I gained a deeper understanding of what Optima® aims to deliver to our residents. Optima® initially attracted me with its exceptional design. From the overall aesthetic to the quality of customer service, it resonates with the comforts of home. This is the first community where I genuinely stand behind and take pride in saying that we offer luxury apartment homes.

How do you view the concept of community at Optima Kierland®? How does it differ from other properties/buildings?
Optima Kierland® is truly its own community! We stand out significantly from our competitors. Fortunately, I’ve had the opportunity to work for other property management companies, and I must say that Optima® goes above and beyond for its residents. The most notable distinction lies in Optima®’s architectural standpoint; they prioritize ensuring that everything has its designated place.

Optima® has a unique set of values that differentiates it from other company cultures. How does that affect the quality of your work life? What values matter most to you?
As a team, we all contribute and are empowered to bring in new ideas. The constant drive for creation stands out to me as a core value. We are always striving for improvements, whether it’s making the move-in experience smoother, refining apartment designs, or shaping the overall community aesthetic. The openness to feedback and our commitment to making necessary improvements significantly contribute to the quality of work life. Feeling heard at Optima® plays a vital role in this ongoing cycle of enhancement.

What are some things you’re learning since joining the Optima Kierland® team?
Speaking up and being involved is encouraged, emphasizing that each team member is crucial to our success. Recognizing that success lies in the details, I’ve learned that while there are communities with fantastic amenities at lower rates, none compare to what we offer at Optima®. We don’t view residents as mere accounts paying rent; instead, we aim to build lasting relationships and genuinely care about their well-being.

What makes you most proud to be a part of the Optima Kierland® team?
I can confidently state that we have the best community in Arizona! Optima® is not just an apartment home; it’s a lifestyle, a genuine community. What makes me most proud of being a part of Optima Kierland® is our incredible team that collaborates seamlessly across departments – we are truly one united force. We are all hands-on and share a common goal of providing the best experience for our residents.

2023: Year in Review

As 2023 comes to a close, we’re taking this moment to reflect on how we’ve continued to grow, learn and serve others over the past year. Here are just a few of the highlights:


We were honored to have attended the 2023 Arizona Multihousing Association (AMA) Tribute Awards where professionals are recognized for their tremendous achievement of leaving a positive impact on both their industry and community. 

Optima Verdana Phase 2 Rendering
Optima Verdana Phase 2 Rendering

Projects and Properties

2023 was a year of growth and many exciting announcements for us at Optima. In Chicago, we finished construction and opened Optima Verdana. Residents at Optima Verdana are surrounded by experiences and spaces that delight and surprise around every corner, from our  pickleball court and fitness center to the rooftop sky deck garden lounge and a heated, glass-enclosed pool. With residents continuing to move into Optima Verdana, we’re thrilled to announce Optima Verdana Phase 2. The mixed-use development will be six stories and be home to 150 rental units in a mix of one-, two- and three bedroom layouts.

Playing pickleball at the opening of Optima Verdana
Playing pickleball at the opening of Optima Verdana

Construction was also completed on 7190 Optima Kierland, the fifth and final tower within the development. With the new tower, not only did we grow the community at Optima Kierland Apartments, but, we also welcomed Optima’s first Olympic-length pool. Following the announcement of Optima McDowell Mountain Village late last year, in 2023 we broke ground on the project. The mixed-use development will include six eight-story buildings – a mix of apartments and condominiums – 12 acres of greenspace and a 210,000-gallon rainwater harvesting system for reuse on-site. 

Optima McDowell Mountain Village Rendering
Optima McDowell Mountain Village Rendering


Throughout 2023 our culture at Optima continued to thrive through rewarding avenues of affinity and connection. We celebrated with each other at our fourth annual costume and pumpkin carving contest, observed Mardi Gras, St Patrick’s Day, International Women’s Day, Earth Day, Cinco de Mayo, Pride Month, Halloween, various other Holiday celebrations and held our annual master architect challenge. In anticipation of the 7190 Optima Kierland Apartments grand opening, we welcomed the new project with a lively BBQ on the rooftop sky deck where we shared delicious food, and following Optima Verdana’s completion, we celebrated a grand opening filled with laughs. 

The Halloween Costume Party at Optima Lakeview
The Halloween Costume Party at Optima Lakeview

We continued to embrace and internalize our shared values more than ever. We are proud to have participated in the Highland Park Strong Run, where we came together to support the Highland Park community and enjoyed a race with family and friends. 

We can’t thank our leadership, team members and Optima communities enough for making 2023 one to remember. Heading into 2024, we are excited to continue innovating and achieving great things together.

The Optima Team at the Highland Park Strong Run
The Optima Team at the Highland Park Strong Run

The Benefits of Living Under Green Roofs

At Optima, our commitment to crafting vibrant communities extends beyond architecture — it embraces a vision of harmonious living with nature. In properties like Optima Verdana®, Optima Kierland Apartments® and Optima Sonoran Village®, we’ve taken this commitment to new heights — quite literally, with green roofs elements that redefine modern living.

Amidst the greenery, residents find not only a physical haven but a sanctuary for the mind year-round. The lush landscapes stimulate cognitive skills, and echoes the enriching effects of art, where the subjective nature of greenery allows residents to explore their creativity and free thinking.

In the spirit of art therapy, our green roof communities become a refuge for stress reduction. The calming influence from a communal herb garden or native flowers and trees, provides a mental retreat, minimizing worries amid life’s challenges. It’s an oasis that mirrors the positive impact of art in promoting relaxation and inspiration.

Living with greenery encourages residents to delve into their own emotional landscapes. The transformative experience of nature’s presence becomes a sensorial, emotional, and sometimes even spiritual journey. Here, Optima’s commitment to well-being extends beyond physical spaces to nourish the soul.

Green roof elements at Optima Kierland Apartments®
Green roof elements at Optima Kierland Apartments®

Optima’s green roofs don’t just enhance the lives of residents; they also embody our commitment to environmental stewardship. By providing insulation and mitigating the urban heat effect, these green roofs contribute to energy efficiency, aligning seamlessly with our dedication to sustainable design and living. They also play a crucial role in stormwater management by absorbing and retaining rainwater, reducing runoff and minimizing flood risks.

Green roofs actively improve air quality by capturing pollutants, offering a breath of fresh air in urban environments. Beyond architectural features, they become habitats for wildlife, enhancing local biodiversity and promoting a holistic approach to community development.

In the heart of Optima’s green roof communities, residents experience a dual benefit: enhanced well-being and a commitment to sustainability. The greenery surrounding our residents tells a tale of cognitive enrichment, stress reduction, emotional healing, and environmental stewardship. As we invite nature into our designs, we reaffirm our dedication to access to greenery and sustainable living.

Discover the McDowell Sonoran Preserve

We’re always thrilled to spotlight attractions for our residents at Optima Kierland Apartments, including the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Nestled in the heart of Arizona’s picturesque landscape, this preserve stands as a testament to Scottsdale’s dedication to preserving the captivating beauty and wonder of the Sonoran Desert. This urban preserve offers a haven for flora, fauna, and eager adventurers alike.

The Preserve’s history began on January 1, 1994, when Scottsdale formally dedicated the initial area of the preserve, which then consisted of three parcels of land totaling approximately five square miles. Since then, this preserve has grown and flourished, now spanning 27,800 acres, and deeply intertwined with the passionate efforts of the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy. This non-profit organization, in collaboration with the City of Scottsdale, has been a driving force in the completion and sustainability of the preserve. Their dedication ensures that this part of the Sonoran Desert remains untouched for future generations. The Conservancy also plays a vital role in managing the land and maintaining the extensive trail network.

Gateway Trailhead Building View
View of the Gateway Trailhead Building. Photo: Al_HikesAZ

Apart from its breathtaking vistas, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve boasts a range of facilities designed to enhance the visitor experience. Major trailheads include the Gateway Trailhead, Tom’s Thumb, and Brown’s Ranch. These provide free parking, access to a variety of trails, and restroom facilities. With an extensive network of non-motorized, multi-use trails, visitors can indulge in activities ranging from hiking, biking, and horseback riding. The paths cater to all skill levels – from gentle terrains to challenging ascents. 


Cactus Wren on a cactus.
Cactus Wren. Photo: Rick Cameron

The McDowell Sonoran Conservancy offers guided hikes, where knowledgeable guides share insights about the desert ecosystem, its history, and its inhabitants. But the preserve is more than just a recreational spot. Through the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, it offers a variety of educational programs designed to foster public awareness and appreciation of the desert ecosystem.

The McDowell Sonoran Preserve is more than a slice of “untainted desert;” it’s an experience. Its vastness captures the essence of the Sonoran Desert, providing those with a penchant for exploration an opportunity to connect with nature. With its diverse activities, rich history, and the backing of a dedicated conservancy, the preserve promises something for everyone. And for Optima Kierland Apartment residents, whether you’re an avid hiker, a curious student, or simply someone to find peace amidst nature’s splendor, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve awaits only five miles away.

Nic Behrends Team Member Spotlight

At Optima®, every individual on our team brings a unique story and perspective that enriches our community. We recently had the pleasure of catching up with Nic Behrends, Optima Lakeview’s Leasing Consultant. From a rich background in hospitality to his heartwarming transition into the world of real estate, Nic shares his journey and insights about what makes Optima stand out. Dive in below:

Tell us a bit about your background and the role you play at Optima.

My background is actually not in real estate. I spent over two decades in hospitality during which I also ran a non-profit focused on bartenders for several years. During my time in hospitality, people kept telling me I would be a great real estate agent, so eventually, I was convinced to get my leasing license. I worked as an agent for a couple of years and realized chasing all over town wasn’t my cup of tea and that I would be much happier managing buildings. I learned that I can be an expert in one specific community and get to know the residents instead of grinding through different prospects, and now I’m one of Optima Lakeview’s Leasing Consultants!

How did you first begin your journey at Optima?

I interviewed with Optima and immediately fell in love with the team and how they illuminated the brand for me. Everything I learned about Optima was far more attractive than any of the other properties I had interviewed with, so I knew I had to work here. Everyone encouraged me to be myself and understand how I could bring my true self to the position, and once I was encouraged to bring that person out, sales just started erupting for me. It’s been great to work in a place where I know that I’m not judged because maybe I’m not the most proficient typist or super skilled in Excel, but I can relate to people. 

How do you view the concept of community at Optima? How does it differ from other properties/buildings?

It’s unique that with Optima, we are all a part of this community. The fact that I see our chief engineer working out in the gym alongside a resident, sharing tips with each other, or I see another staff member at the pool with his partner exemplifies that we’re not just the staff here, we’re also members of the community, and the residents respect that and treat us as neighbors since we’re all here together. In most of the other communities that I interacted with as a broker, there was always an issue with control or power, and there is usually a disconnect between the residents and the staff. But at Optima, everyone is heard. Residents see that we care about what’s going on in their lives and it makes everything much more warm and happier. 

Optima has a unique set of values that differentiates it from other company cultures. How does that affect the quality of your work life? What values matter most to you?

Being bold. It takes a lot to put your true self out there and to let the walls down. And to be in a building that lets me do that has allowed me to progress in my career very rapidly. Becoming not only successful but also happy in this career has come from the opportunities that being bold has given me. All of our work here is done with intent and purpose, so in every action, we’re acting bold. It’s been an amazing opportunity to work with Maike and the team here because everyone truly embodies that value. 

What are some things you’ve learned during your time at Optima?

What I’ve learned most here at Optima is that there is a way to do this business that is beneficial to both the property owner and the residents. When you produce a premium building that you can stand behind, you’ve got to be willing to put in the effort and show residents that we’re invested in their lives and are here to help them at all costs. Too often, at other properties, the solution is a rebuttal with a demand that you live with it, and here, we’re always looking for a way to solve problems. 

What makes you most proud to be a part of the Optima team?

What I’m most proud of is the fact that I made a huge career change after doing the same thing for 20-plus years and made it into an environment that makes me feel valued. I walk into the most amazing building and am greeted by spectacular residents every morning. I work with a team that is not only going to work as hard or harder than me but also respects me for who I am. I’m over the moon to tell everybody how happy I am here and how proud I am to know I made it onto this team. 

Inside The Newest Tower at Optima Kierland Apartments: A Closer Look at the New and Evolving Amenities With Barbie Clemons

Get ready to experience the ultimate luxury apartment living! The long-awaited completion of 7190 Optima Kierland Apartments in Scottsdale has finally arrived, and we’re thrilled to give you an exclusive look into all of its evolving amenities. We sat down with Barbie Clemons, General Manager at Optima Kierland Apartments, who shared all the details about what makes the tower’s incredible new amenities stand out from the rest:

What is the current state of the luxury amenity experience in Scottsdale? How has the definition of luxury amenities changed in recent years? 

Everybody’s spending a lot more time on amenities. You can see it in Scottsdale being a resort town; people want that resort-style living and to have everything at their fingertips. In recent years, we’ve seen buildings adding more events to their rosters, making sure that they have a gym, pools, hot tubs, etc. And then you start seeing other communities sprinkling in a cardio room and some of those more niche amenities to set them apart. For example, there’s a brand new building up the street from us that has a spa atmosphere where they’ve built a massage room and some of those spa-like amenities.

But that’s something that Optima has always done, because we’ve always gone to the next level with our amenities. This gives us the unique opportunity to always be ahead of the curve, delivering experiences and features that residents are just starting to dream about!

What are residents/potential residents at 7190 most interested in? 

At our new tower, Kierland 7190, we added a separate pickleball court. People are very excited about this addition because pickleball is such a phenomenon. In our other Kierland properties, we’ve transformed our basketball courts so residents can play basketball or pickleball. But in 7190, we now have a separate space that’s specifically for pickleball, and people are so excited about that.

They’re also excited about the Olympic-length pool on our rooftop here. It’s probably the longest pool I’ve ever seen on a rooftop, and it’s absolutely beautiful. Something else that has drawn people into our newer buildings is the rooftop track. We have a quarter-mile track that goes around the roof of our buildings, where residents can walk or jog and enjoy the views of McDowell Mountain, as well as a spa and cold plunge, and like our other buildings, lounge seating, fire pits, and an outdoor bar and kitchen. 

7190 Optima Kierland Apartments’ outdoor covered Pickleball arena

What are some of Optima Kierland 7190’s evolved amenities? 

There are so many! The rooftop track is a newer one, and the Olympic-length pool on the rooftop and pickleball court are some of the others. We also have a yoga studio that includes its own separate Pilates room. We’ve added full-blown pet spas and one of our most fun new additions, a golf experience. We also have our golf simulator and sports lounge indoors, and then outside, we have a new putting green and chipping area where residents can play on different types of terrain, which is unique.

What sets these amenities apart from other buildings in the community? 

Kierland stands apart because each of our five buildings has its own set of amenities, which is so distinctive relative to other apartment communities where the amenities are centralized and shared by all of the residential buildings. So whichever Kierland tower you choose, you’re only sharing with the intimate community you’re already familiar with. It’s really a lifestyle that we sell here, not apartment living. We’re showing residents that they can have everything at their fingertips and not have to go to a Lifetime Fitness or something like that outside of our community if they don’t want to, we’ll bring it all to them.

How are your residents responding to the amenity experience at 7190?

What we’re hearing from residents is that they are genuinely excited about the fact that they don’t have to leave the community to have an amazing quality of life. Our residents don’t have to go to cryotherapy or visit another golfing place to play on a simulator. Everything is right here within easy reach. We also have everything from huddle rooms to conference rooms, making it extremely easy for residents to work from home. We have spaces to enjoy and activities for people to play, from racquetball and pickleball to our pool, ping pong, shuffleboard, and bocce ball. I mean, there’s something for every single person in these buildings.

If residents are retiring, selling their homes, and downsizing into apartment living for the first time in 30 years, their grandkids are going to have a ton of places to go and enjoy. Additionally, new to the 7190 tower, we have implemented a 24/7 door staff so residents will have someone available 24 hours a day as part of our staff!

How Space Affects Mood

Today, virtually every aspect of daily life seems to bring a measure of stress. And when thinking about how to cope, it’s reassuring to turn to science, where research studies continue to point to the fact that human health and the spaces in which we live, work, and play directly correlate with stress levels and mood. Since our earliest years and projects, Optima® has championed the primacy of interior space, and we continue to celebrate its importance for each and every one of our residents — including giving a few tips on how to make the most out of one’s own space!

The Importance of Natural Light

Previously, we’ve spoken about the positive effects of an abundance of natural light and expansive windows and the critical role they play in adhering to our principles of Modernist design. Sunlight alone holds many benefits that go beyond the physical. It helps increase serotonin and endorphin levels, two hormones that significantly boost our mood.

What simple steps can you take to maximize natural light in your space? Start by arranging mirrors to reflect light, making sure you’re not blocking light with furniture, and rethink the use of dark drapes or shades.

Natural light at Optima Lakeview®, Chicago, IL
Natural light at Optima Lakeview®, Chicago, IL


The impression a space makes affects your mood, as well, and happens on an immediate and intuitive level as your mind and body engage with the physical environment. Picture an expansive living/dining area with floor-to-ceiling windows where you are drawn to gather with family and friends (or curl up with your pooch). Juxtapose that impression with what you would feel when entering a cluttered, dim room with little space to move around.

Take advantage of the layout of your space to maintain a sense of effortless flow in and around furniture and built-in elements, and keep piles and stacks to a minimum!

Introducing Color 

Color isn’t merely visual eye candy, it provides a psychological experience, as well. Beyond the sense of tranquility that the Modernist palette of monochromatic tones of gray, white, and black offer, expanding your space’s palette can make a world of difference in boosting your mood. 

Extending a hand to vibrant colors like red, yellow, or orange can give you feelings of passion and comfort. Cooler colors on the other side of the spectrum, like blue, green, and purple, can be peaceful, calming, or comforting. Sprinkling bits of color throughout your space is a surefire way to add a new emotional dimension to the environment and enhance your mood. 

Terrace gardening at Optima Sonoran Village®
Vertical landscaping at Optima Sonoran Village®

Budding Companions Can Increase Mood

We’ve written in the past about the mental health value of introducing budding companions such as house plants or flowers into your space, based on the results of comprehensive studies that show how the presence of plants improves concentration and memory retention while also reducing stress.

Make a regular habit of keeping plants and flowers around your home, and enjoy their affect of reducing the likelihood of depression and increasing positive feelings — in addition to the aesthetic beauty they provide.

From the feedback we continue to receive from Optima® residents, living in one of our communities sets the stage for high spirits and upbeat moods. With “great bones” in the design of our residences, optimized for openness, materiality and light, the opportunity to transform living space into home becomes a joy.

The Softline Opera Chair: A Symphony of Possibilities

As we continue to tour the public spaces at Optima® communities to highlight the curated collection of Modernist furnishings, such as the Eames chair, or tulip table, etc. We find it just as important to highlight recent advances of Modernist furniture design, propelled forward by the likes of Eero Saarinen, Charles and Ray Eames, Florence Knoll, and so many other masters of design. Today we introduce you to the OPERA chair at Optima Lakeview®, by SOFTLINE.

Brief History 

SOFTLINE has been creating and producing innovatively designed furniture for a global market since 1979. The enterprise was founded as a division of K. Balling-Engelsen A/S, a Danish producer of technical polyurethane foam. For decades, this high-quality, flexible foam has been the material of choice for furniture production due to its unique properties.

In 2003, they became an independent, privately-owned enterprise with a factory in Denmark, where the upholstery is performed by hand, based on Scandinavian traditions and utilizing eco-friendly materials.

OPERA chair by Busk+Hertzog
OPERA chair by Busk+Hertzog at Optima Lakeview®


The OPERA chair designed by Busk+Herzog serves a symphony of possibilities at Optima Lakeview® in its ability to elegantly blend modern and contemporary styles. From its high armrests, to provide privacy for all matters of which you may want to hide, to its backrest and cushion that completely envelopes your body.

The OPERA can also be used as a versatile lounge chair in larger configurations, much like PLANET, or in smaller configurations like PIERCE. Both of these elegant iterations can be found together just steps away at Optima Kierland® in Scottsdale. The OPERA chair provides a human-scale sense of privacy, as well as a space for contemplation or conversation in our business center. This striking piece is the perfect place for our residents to relax in solitude without being completely separated from friends, and we’re delighted to include this iconic design to Optima’s® Modernist collection!

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Maintenance Supervisor

Glencoe, IL

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