Talk about first impressions! One step inside a clinic, and we’ve (consciously or subconsciously) decided if the clinic and its staff are successful, dependable, efficient, friendly, cold, personal, up-to-date, or stuck in a bygone era. And that’s just for starters.

Deciding how you want your clients to feel when they enter your clinic is the first step in designing that space. What image would you like to convey? How would you like your clients to feel about you and your business? Do you want to give off a fresh, energetic vibe, because you’re on the cutting edge of advances, or one that’s more traditional and comforting, because it represents your time-honored, reassuring values? These answers will inspire everything from color scheme to artwork and furniture choices.

Consider, too, what your clients might be feeling when they arrive. Are some of them likely to be anxious about a procedure they’re facing (root canal, anyone?)? Busy patterns and bold colors won’t do much to help keep these clients calm in the waiting area. On the other hand, if your clients are looking forward to facials or nutrition sessions, something upbeat and lively might boost their excitement.

Artwork is an important component of clinic design. Think well past coordinating colors! How does that bold, abstract piece represent you? Would a sedate landscape be more in keeping with your personality and the feeling you want to foster in your clinic? Or maybe a whimsical piece by a local artist would better communicate that you’re both fun loving and supportive.

Function is always important in design. And when it comes to clinic space, well, there are plenty of very practical considerations to juggle. Sensible storage is one of them.

Product on display can easily look messy (check out most any bathroom cupboard for confirmation!). But the usual solution—standard-issue display cabinets—can quickly feel medicinal. Sometimes it works to think outside the typical clinic cabinet for display. For one wellness clinic client, we created custom wooden shelving and an island display for additional products – all with a vintage feel that’s in keeping with the clinic’s on-trend atmosphere.

Seating’s another important practical element. You may personally love sinking into an oversized, cushy chair, but will some of your clients struggle to get in and out of that chair? If many of them are seniors, it might be better to choose seating that’s both comfortable and easy to get in and out of—with arms that are easy to push off, for example.

If your clients include breastfeeding moms, include thoughtful seating for them. If children will be visiting, remember the pint-size chairs. Are many of your patients large? You’ll want to make sure your seating is wide enough to accommodate them comfortably. You get the idea.

Of course, you’ll want to apply great design throughout the clinic space—coordinating fixtures, colors, and furniture to provide great flow from the waiting area throughout the clinic. With thoughtful, inspired design, you can create a space your clients will look forward to being in when they schedule their next visit.

What’s the feel you’d like your clinic to present? What clinic spaces have impressed you as a client?