First impressions are everything! This is important to remember when planning to decorate your office. You don’t have to have a degree in interior design in order to “wow” and welcome your clients into your space. Think “family room” instead of “doctor’s office.” You want your space to be calming, inviting, and have your own personal touch. Here are a few things I draw from when designing new spaces for our practice:
- Pick a favorite picture, item or something for inspiration. When I was recently designing the space for our newest office, I turned to a birthday card I had been given. It had beautiful jewels on the front complimented by soft, feminine colors of peach, pink, and baby blue. I brought this card with me when I went shopping and used those colors as the theme to incorporate pops of color.
- Start with a basic neutral tone as your base for the paint on the walls and the furniture. Painting the walls, a calming blue or peaceful gray, can allow for the perfect neutral palette. From there, choose 2-3 colors from your piece of inspiration to add pops of color for items like pillows for the couch or chairs, lamps, rugs, pictures and blankets.
- Lighting is incredibly important! It is amazing how much switching up the light sources in your space can instantly change the vibe. Avoid harsh, florescent overhead lightening and incorporate a variety of lamps (desk, floor) along with natural light if you have a window in your office. If your office has harsh, florescent overhead lights, TURN THEM OFF! This is the quickest way change your space from “doctor’s office” to “family room.”
- Less is more. Our clients are already coming into our office with a lot of “stuff.” If we have too much going on or too much clutter, this can become distracting and uninviting. Try to disguise items needed for therapy and only pull them out when needed. For example, keep your sand tray under your couch, tuck games and books behind your chair or use decorative bins on a bookcase to house other items needed.
- Personal touches go a long way. If you have a favorite flower or plant you like, put that in your space. If you love dogs, find a fun painting to hang. Personal touches are great conversation starters when working to build rapport with your clients. They can also have purpose as well. For example, I have an essential oil diffuser in my office I brought from home to be able to incorporate into sessions when needed. I also keep a decorative dish filled with mints as peppermint is soothing for nervous stomachs and helps to ease anxiety.
It is definitely possible to design the perfect space for you and your clients and not break the bank. My favorite places for picking up decorative, affordable items are HomeGoods and WayFair. Your office will leave a lasting impression on your clients and can make or break a therapeutic relationship. It is important you take the time to put thought and effort into your space. Ultimately you want to create a space that is both inviting and comfortable. Happy decorating!
Alycia Burant, MA, LPC, NCC is founder, owner and therapist at Healthy Minds Therapy in bustling Alexandria, VA. Her practice has three locations in Northern Virginia providing expert support and services for people in times of need. When she is not working, she enjoys relaxing with her family, wine tasting, cooking and traveling.