While Barb was thinking about how she would return to audiology, I was more concerned about keeping her fixed expenses low. We found a 18′ by 12′ space owned by a Russian lady. Growing up in Stalingrad, tall ceilings were the norm for her so the room we rented was built with a 12′ ceiling.
Which was a perfect height for the wall hanging that Barb found on sale in Palm Springs (at 75% off). Barb asked if I could design an office using the wall hanging as the theme.
The pictures speak for themselves, so I won’t go into detail about how I designed Barb’s office other than to note that I had roughly 200 square feet and tall ceilings to work with. Barb needed a fitting station, sound booth, and repair lab. Managed to fit everything in plus added a conference area, too.
Barb’s concern was all the tall “buildings” designed as part of the decore would make her office seem small. A valid concern, but adding receding roof lines removed the sense of standing on a New York street corner.
All shots of Barb’s office were taken “as is”. Just walked in and started shooting. Click on any photo to better see detail in the scene.
Barb’s office, as it is today.
The look and feel of your office tells your clients what, and who, you value. Details matter.
If you want to dive deep, here are a few shots of the construction.
If we owned the office space rather than renting, I would have gone more elaborate and worried less about making holes in walls. Thing is, doing the big stuff that looks elaborate isn’t expensive. The building materials we selected are usually the cheapest stuff we can find, and paint is cheap. In our home theater below, cheap wood and foam was used to create the look and feel of the walls and ceiling.
Not ready to do a big redecoration of your office?
Here are three quick kills with the most bang for the buck that anybody can do.
For most immediate effect: Reduce clutter.
This is the most difficult suggestion only because you are used to seeing your office every day, so you don’t see the clutter. Or worse, don’t think it is clutter. Brochures, patient charts, manufacturer posters and forms litter your counters and walls. I visit offices regularly during our travels and this, by far, is the most common problem encountered.
All that stuff screams at patients that you are either: Disorganized, or always looking to sell, sell, sell. So hide the important junk in cabinets or behind curtains. Make it easy to get at, but hard for patients to see. You’ll be amazed at how much more appealing and professional your office will look. I didn’t clean anything in Barb’s office before taking the pictures above. It looks like that for every patient. (Note that Barb has a few brochures in the display behind her desk. Haven’t convinced her, yet, to make them to disappear.)
Next: Paint walls.
Paint is the cheapest way to make a dramatic change to the look of your office. But you’re not going to simply throw some plastic on the floor and grab a paint roller. You want the wall color to have texture and depth. You’ll use a simple to learn technique called rag-off. For your first foray into creative painting, apply a solid base coat of a light color using a roller. Then apply a second color (a complimentary color is easiest for beginners) with a dry brush. Bunch up a rag (a cloth about 2′ square is good) and roll it across the wall where you just painted. The more you roll, the more paint is removed to reveal the undercoat. Paint small sections of the wall at a time, and overlap brush strokes slightly into areas you just finished. Vary the amount of rag rolling you do within each section, leaving some areas covered more than others.
There’s no right or wrong way to rag off. Experiment. Don’t worry about getting everything perfect. The beauty of this technique is you can always apply a new base coat to any section you mess up and start over. Below are examples of this technique in our house. As you can see, you can go crazy with colors. I think eighteen paint colors are present in the five photos. It would be a jarring experience walking from room to room IF there wasn’t a common element. In this case, beige, gray, black or green smoothes the transition between rooms.
You can create a false chair rail look, too. You don’t have to stencil the chair rail, it can be a band of paint or a strip of wallpaper.
Third step: Change lighting.
Those florescent fixtures in what seems to be every office ever built aren’t soothing to the soul. They also don’t provide good lighting. You can make a dramatic change by adding floor and desk top lights around your office. The goal is to create shadows and bright spots – like nature does, through direct and indirect lighting.
I prefer to add enough lights such that there is no need for overhead lights to be used, but that isn’t always possible. In those cases I make shields that are attached to the overhead fixtures so light is redirected sideways rather than down (watch the weight, you don’t want to yank the fixture out of the ceiling). This creates a reverse cove lighting effect, if one could call it that, which plays well with the painting of your walls (and ceiling) that you just finished doing.
I have also installed rope lighting (LED versions are now affordable) near the ceiling using commonly available wall trim, hiding the lights while directing light where I want it to go. If you float trim an inch or so from the wall, light will wash upward and downward. Or you can direct light in one direction, as seen below. The effect can be quite dramatic.
I hope this post serves as food for thought and inspiration. The main point I want to make is that decorating an office doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. You don’t need to hire an interior designer. You have good ideas in your head already. You just have to be brave enough to try them.
You gotta see this dentists office. Mind glowingly excellent. Ya think his patients talk about him and his office? A special thanks goes to Patti R in Cali for sending me the link.