First impressions matter.
Those first 3 seconds when someone enters a health space are critical.
What do they see?
What do they hear?
What do they smell?
What do they touch?
What do they taste?
The waiting room dictates the first impressions patients will have of your service.
It sets the tone for care.
Your space should be comfortable and clean, but aesthetically pleasing too. Why?
To ensure your patients are at ease as they wait.
This will have a flow-on effect on their experience of your overall service and of your reputation as a professional.
Feeling the pressure now? Decorating a waiting room doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive!
Here are a few of our top tips on how to decorate your waiting room on a budget.
1. Consider your patients
Who are your patients? Who will be in your waiting room space?
A good understanding of the people in your waiting room will assist you in having a maximum decorating impact without wasting the budget.
A waiting room that is designed with parents and children in mind will likely be different from a waiting room for yoga.
For example: If your practice involves children, limit the number of small decorations within the room. Opt for sturdy, comfortable furnishings that will not easily topple over or be broken.
Don’t have a big budget for a toy-filled corner? No problem. Consider providing a simple table with a colouring station.
If you have some budding artists in your client base, ask them if you can use the pictures they create to decorate your waiting room. Frame these in matching, affordable frames (from the dollar store will do) and hang on your waiting room wall in a gallery wall style.
Repeat visitors to your practice will feel welcomed and valued in your waiting room, even before they see you! Children will be proud to point out their special place in your waiting room decoration scheme.
2. Choose a natural colour scheme
Choosing natural colours as a base for your waiting room allows you to have the ability to easily create a calming space. Whites, Creams and Beiges are all great colours that pair well with most accent colours.
Look to nature as a guide.
You may like to include a pop of colour that connects to your brand.
For example, if you have teal in your logo design, a few carefully chosen items in a matching shade can offer a cohesive and comforting environment.
3. Less is More
When it comes to design and budget, less certainly is more.
You don’t need to fill your waiting room with stuff for it to be an effective and welcoming space. Over-filling your waiting room can leave it looking cluttered and unprofessional.
Instead, choose a few ‘hero’ pieces, which will be the feature of your waiting room design. Perhaps an artwork or sculpture, or your logo on the wall. These hero pieces can also tell a visual story about your practice and who you are.
Choosing a hero piece or two will give your space a considered feel and help your wallet out as you’ll save money, avoiding buying unnecessary decor items.
Where to find hero pieces?
Beautiful pieces in your waiting room don’t have to be costly.
When looking for items, try second-hand stores, family members, eBay, even Facebook marketplace.
For new pieces of furniture, mainstream stores such as IKEA and Fantastic Furniture often have a large selection.
When you’re thinking of a hero piece, it can be helpful to shop with another person. Ask for their impression of it, what mood it gives them. Good impressions of hero pieces include feeling calm, safe, happy or motivated when looking at them.
Seems a little vague? If in doubt, choose prints of nature in colour schemes that are calming such as blues and greens. Or in the colour scheme of your branding.
4. Go natural
Use plants, either fake or real, to create a neutral and calming environment for your guests. Studies have shown that waiting rooms with natural elements foster positive feelings in patients.
Are you worried about the cost?
Online plant shopping though Facebook groups or small businesses mean it’s easy to source plants for your waiting room at a fraction of the cost of retail. Some businesses even specialise in ex-real estate staging plants.
Make sure you comply with regulations when it comes to plants inside the consultation room. Often these plants will need to be fake to be compliant with hygiene or skin penetration standards.
Select a few low-maintenance plants to place strategically around your waiting room.
5. Use your senses
Lighting and scent are two areas that are often overlooked when it comes to waiting room design. They are two of the most cost-effective ways to improve your waiting room decorations on a budget.
Have a dark, dingy corner in your waiting room? Visit a second-hand store and find a lamp for a bargain to lighten the area.
Popping on a calming candle or an aroma diffuser can be particularly helpful for decorating the tone in some waiting rooms, such as beauty therapy. Even if candles are unlit, their presence can remind patients that they are in a place of relaxation.
6. Get inspired
Before you begin decorating your waiting room, do some research.
Take note of elements in waiting rooms that you like, and would want to have in your own waiting room. Use Pinterest and Google to look at and become inspired by other waiting rooms.
With a little bit of creative thinking, there’s usually a way to achieve the look you’d like at a fraction of the cost.
Where to source decorations for your patient waiting room?
Are you feeling inspired?
Source decorations from your waiting room by visiting second-hand stores, dollar stores, eBay or affordable department stores such as Kmart. Be clever and consider how you might be able to thrift a cheap item to give it an upgrade.
Found some nice frames but they’re the wrong colour? Spray paint from your local hardware store can work wonders.
If in doubt, remember the principles of patient-focused, simple design when decorating your waiting room.
Entrepreneur, retired doctor. Passionate about helping health and beauty professionals build their own brand.
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