What do you want to see in your dentist's office?

Sueb20March 18, 2014

I have been asked to help with a facelift of a local dental office. He is a very popular dentist in town for both adults and kids, so this is a big deal for me as I have been working mostly residential (though I did work on several elder daycare facilities) and mostly decorating/consulting versus "interior design." Many, many people in my town will see my work in this office, which adds to the pressure to make it look awesome! The good news is there's nowhere to go but up. Right now it's sad and outdated with late '80s/early '90s wallpaper and color scheme (burgundy and forest green). Anyway, I have to work with some existing conditions like a dark green floor, but am planning on a fresh pale blue for the walls (without being too literal...thinking the floor is like green grass and the walls are blue sky!) and bringing in other colors in the upholstery and artwork. Anyway, if you happen to really like your dentist's office, what do you like about it? Or, if not, what do you wish it had? I am brainstorming this week and have ideas, but figured I'd ask my thoughtful friends here.

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It's funny that you're asking this. My dentist had moved into another dr's practice two years ago The office had been redecorated probably a year or so before that. Whoever did it really did a lovely job. The waiting area is small but with a dark patterned low pile carpet and 3 attractive fabric upholstered chairs and a petite loveseat. The counter top in the reception area which sweeps into the appointment booking area is a dark granite, the walls are a creamy yellow.

The treatment areas in the back are filled with light from big windows; the center room has a vaulted ceiling, all the walls and ceilings are painted the same creamy yellow and the windows have nice wide fluted moldings. I'm not absolutely positive, but I'm fairly sure the carpeting extends into here too.

But I said to the dentist yesterday that the next time he paints, he should consider painting the ceilings a sky blue with clouds. He thought it was a great idea and I think he was serious. (I do know him socially as well as professionally for 20 years)

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 10:56AM
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Interesting project. When I first went to my dentist over twenty years ago, it was decorated by a wife of one of the dentists. It looked like you were going into a living room, with comfy chairs, a inlayed border rug and wall papered walls.

Sadly, these features did not last not being commercial grade elements.

They did a face lift and now it does look more like a professional space, but it still has a couch and comfortable chairs, just more industrial fabric.There is a small children's corner with a few games and toys. There is a build in bookcase filled with books as well as magazines lined on on the window sill. They used to have a fish tank, which was interesting but not something I necessarily want to see in a doctor's office.

I like a cozy feel to a waiting room. Some have those stiff chairs lined up in a row. Sometimes, unfortunately you do more time than you would like in the waiting room.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 11:04AM
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Something really interesting on the ceiling to keep my eyes occupied while he's working on my teeth :-)
One dentist in the centre of the historic part of town I used to live in had an old map of the town on the ceiling, and my current dentist has a ceiling-mounted monitor with a nice slide show.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 11:09AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Hmmm, I want extremely clean, new looking decor. My dentist has great magazines very carefully arranged on a center pedestal table and I appreciate the order and the newness of the magazines. They look clean, fresh and nice.
No carpet. Nice laminate floors. Cleaner.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 11:15AM
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Oh, I'd love it if we could do something with the ceiling. Unfortunately they are dropped-tile ceilings and the only thing I can do with them is replace the bumpy-textured ceiling tiles with something a bit more attractive.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 1:27PM
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I like roomy, uncrowded chairs in the waiting room. Sometimes it will be full and I don't want to share a loveseat with some guy I don't know. Some waiting rooms (like at my medical clinic) have one or two chairs that sit a little higher with arms to help elders hoist themselves up (luckily, not me - yet).

My dentist has high windows with birdfeeders outside, so it's lovely to relax and watch them. I think there are some posters on the ceiling to look at, too. I would think about some mobiles in the station areas (not baby mobiles, but something kinetic and beautiful/fun) that will move a bit with any slight breeze, which can be mesmerizing for adults and children.

Each station has a bulletin board where the hygienist for that station can post personal pics, which I really like, too. Pets, farm animals, funny postcards, etc. It's nice to have that personal touch.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 1:29PM
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I just switched dentists and neither office has anything worth remembering or mentioning. Come to think of it most of the medical offices here in my area are pretty sad/boring looking, even though we are in a high cost area (Los Angeles suburb).

The pediatric dentist/orthodontist my kids went to when we lived in Tokyo had really thought about how to market to and treat kids. The waiting room on ground floor had some type of computer games set up on pods/pedestals. Upstairs in an open concept room, above every dental chair, suspended on the ceiling was a flat panel TV and the kids got headsets to hear the show and block the dental sounds. I'm sure he had the budget to decorate as he catered to foreign families and only accepted cash!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 1:42PM
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I was just at the dentist yesterday. It's in an old building with brick walls, tin ceilings, pleasant yellow walls and good lighting in all areas. Interesting things to look at. If you're tied in to the greens and blues, perhaps interesting artwork could introduce something for the patient to think about. On the ceiling, above the patient chair he had a small plaque mounted that used negative space so the viewer had to analyze/think a bit to read it. Kind of an optical illusion to dwell on while they're cleaning or drilling. I'd think something like that could be interchanged. Actually I would have preferred headphones to listen to music but that's another story.

I agree no carpet (or even upholstered seating). I prefer clean and fresh.

Not necessarily decor related:
In the reception area he had a Keurig. My husband's hearing aid place also has one so I asked the receptionist if Keurig had a special deal for clinics and she said it was to offer fresh beverages, and the variety of coffees, cider, cocoa, etc and to avoid the liability of hot coffee machines. This is a nice touch but one that can be abused. One day at the hearing aid place we saw a guy strategically standing by the Keurig cup stand and putting them in his pocket. Also, I brush my teeth before going to the dentist and don't feel like drinking coffee (or other) when I leave so this would be more for the people waiting for others.

As a child I enjoyed, and then my kids enjoyed the Highlight magazine activities and also Readers Digest. Fun activities and simple reading .

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 1:45PM
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A big sign that says. "Sorry, closed"

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 1:47PM
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I close my eyes when I'm in the dentist chair so it doesn't matter what is on the ceiling. He has beach motif pictures on his walls which are very relaxing. He doesn't have a water fountain. He has a small wine cooler like fridge with free water bottles in it. he has the TV on the food channel and dozens of the latest magazines on the wall racks. He doesn't over book. He is such a sweet southern gentleman. I wouldn't trade him for anyone!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 1:54PM
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My current dentist waiting room has the decor of an updated victorian house. The building is newer not a converted house so this was done on purpose. Waiting room has two spaces instead of a one big one (imagine a living room with a space sitting room on one side. Not completely divided, just the allusion of two spaces. Gas fireplace. Free healthy drinks for you to enjoy. The best part is that they make sure you are only in the waiting room for a few minutes. The exam rooms are just bland but she is such a cool dentist you don't really notice.

My past dentist was also a photographer and would put cool photos he took up on the ceilings above the dental chair.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 2:03PM
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Good luck on such a fantastic opportunity! We go to a practice with 6 doctors: 2 oral surges, 2 dentists and 2 pediatric dentists. I love the soundproof glass wall separating the main waiting room from one where there are stadium carpeted stairs (act as bleachers or chairs) and a few toys and coloring tables and tvs playing cartoons for the kids. Then the main waiting area is divided into two areas: the quieter area and then one with a tv. The quieter area has a huge in the wall salt water fish tank. I love it.

They replaced the carpet with vinyl plank floors. Interestingly enough patients either love it or wish the carpet was back. The carpet was a pretty comforting gray with a subtle pattern. I think overall the older color scheme (grays and blues) was reminiscent of a tailored men's suit. I'm sure many patients found that reassuring and safe. The new look is very contemporary with a touch of Asian influence. While I like it, I believe it may be polarizing in my city.

On a related topic I've noticed more doctor offices are including extra outlets around the waiting room so patients or waiting guest can charge a dying tablet or laptop or phone. I thi that's a nice touch in today's world.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 2:07PM
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Not an ugly green vinyl floor!

Any chance of getting him to spend a bit more and change it out? I know you will do a great job...just afraid when it's done he won't be happy because the floor will look old and outdated next to your fresh updates.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 2:37PM
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I know, the green floor is a problem. But it goes all through the entire treatment area and he definitely said it has to stay. Fortunately it doesn't go into the reception area/waiting room, but I do have to find a wall-to-wall carpet that coordinates with the greenness of the treatment room flooring.

kitschy, LOL, I agree with you! I have the worst dental phobia. Fortunately, this guy is not MY dentist. Just my kids (I have to go to a different dentist who offers conscious sedation...).

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 2:53PM
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I really appreciate that each treatment room has a TV. It helps take my mind off the procedure.

I also think having a coffee station in the waiting room adds a nice touch.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 3:25PM
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My dentist has a huge salt water aquarium in the waiting room filled with the most colorful and interesting fish. I think well kept and well done aquariums are so restful. May be calming to the nervous patient and kids love them.

He has hanging mobiles in each exam room and wonderful art work. I don't remember the wall colors, just know the rooms have a good feel, nice lighting and soft music in the background. I don't remember the floors, but know there is no carpet-probably tile.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 3:27PM
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The green floor could be nice with the right stuff. Sort of like fresh breath, mouthwash and spring.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 4:41PM
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I want it to be clean, clean , clean. I agree that I don't want to sit elbow to elbow with others in the waiting room.

My dentist has two things I love. The first is word games attached to the ceiling above the chair. They are in a big frame and can be changed from time to time. Sometimes the dentist, hygienist and I are all staring at the ceiling discussing the word game.

The second is a large sturdy hook in every room to hang your purse. It is so convenient! It's the little things.

There also is a nice display with pictures and names for everyone who works there. That is so helpful when trying to remember the different assistant's names.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 6:07PM
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Hook for your purse ...great suggestion! Why do doctors offices lack this simple hook?

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 6:15PM
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My dentist office has the purse hooks.

I love my dentists' office. I love my dentists! They are a husband/wife team. I adore them both, but can really identify with the wife as she likes antiques and home decor, etc. - things I like! She's also very artsy/crafty and is always taking some kind of class. Several months ago she showed me some gorgeous magnolia leaf wreaths she made for church doors for the wedding of one of her friend's daughter. She decorated their office. The treatment rooms are more professional, but the waiting room reminds me of a living room. They even have a little sitting area with the low slipper type chairs that is so cute. Nice, comfy couches in the waiting room then other areas of comfy chairs. ACCESSORIES. Even "vignettes" - I always notice one in the hallway leading from the waiting room to the treatment rooms. An antique chest with always some type of beautiful arrangement (she does the flower arranging too!) - changed out for seasons or Christmas, etc. The bathrooms are very pretty too - lots of decorative touches - artwork, etc. I know one has grasscloth wallcovering and a series of framed pieces that remind you of toile. They have wood floors in all rooms with a large area rug in the waiting room. Very large - may be bound carpet, I can't remember.

Good luck and I hope you can share pix!


    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 9:08PM
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My dentist's office also has the large purse hooks-love it. The waiting room has very comfy chairs, a mini fridge with water bottles-great to grab on the way out after getting teeth cleaned. It doesn't look industrial at all, but like a beautiful living room in a home. He also has a Keurig in the waiting room, which I never use since I am the patient.

My dentist is a world traveler and a photography buff, and every room has tv monitors with slide shows of photos he has taken on his travels. I love looking at them and talking to him about his trips since I also love to travel.

Congratulations on this opportunity!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 9:15PM
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I just want to pop back in and say thanks for all the ideas. Love the purse hook idea especially, because there is definitely space for that! The others...like TVs and fish tank...there's just no space. The waiting room is small -- basically a square about 10'x10' with 6-7 chairs and a bookcase. All windows on one side and a reception desk on the other, so no logical spot for a TV or fish tank. I like the idea of mobiles on the ceiling in the treatment area, will look into that!

The dr. has a large collection of art/prints all by the same artist that he wants to use, so they will be hung throughout the space.

There is one wall next to the open doorway to the treatment rooms -- it is about 3' wide and the wall perpendicular to it (to your right as you enter the treatment room) is about 4' wide. So it's a little corner spot that I need to use in a way to "stop the eye". (The dr said some patients like to peer down the hall to the treatment rooms -- from their vantage point in the waiting room -- and say hello.) I thought about a tall tree decal because that would be big and colorful and take up a lot of space. Other ideas? It can't be a coat rack or coffee machine because we don't want people congregating over there (it is just beyond the reception desk, maybe 9-10' from the waiting room seating. Depending on what's left in the budget, I could also see about getting an artist to actually paint a tree there. (This ties in with the dr's art collection, which are mostly landscapes.) What do you think?

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 7:29AM
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the only thing I want to see is the nitrous oxide feed!

. . . but I like aquariums.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 2:02PM
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How about a real plant in that little corner, a potted palm or something tall?

Please post pics when you are done....can't wait to see the finished space!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 2:09PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

The space should be relaxing. Soft colors, Zen water fall, beautifully soft music, and comfortable seating. Nobody goes to the dentist relaxed. We go in fear! Calm us down!


    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 2:13PM
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When I think of waiting rooms for doctors and dentists I think of inadequate facilities to hang up jackets and coats - we all don't carry purses. lol

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 2:41PM
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My pet peeve about waiting rooms of whatever kind is loud, obnoxious televisions, for which you cannot mute the sound or change the channel.

If you must have a monitor to distract people, at least hook it up to a dvd player and run recorded shows, ambient videos (like waves or scenery) or even a movie would be better than crappy daytime tv.

This post was edited by Violet.West on Mon, Mar 24, 14 at 15:12

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 3:09PM
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I'm with Violet.West about the annoyance of tvs in waiting areas. Nowadays most people are so busy using their phones for games, work, texting, whatever, that I don't think a tv is necessary in any waiting area.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 4:32PM
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My dentist's office is really interesting! His wife has done it in a chinese/asian theme. Mostly red and black. Comfy unmatched furniture in the waiting area. All kinds of interesting art work on the walls, which she changes out regularly, so it's always fun to play "spot what's new!" Each treatment room has a window, and they've put up a bamboo fence a few feet away. Outside each window is a statue or fountain - Buddha, etc. Nothing about the office screams "dentist".
But the very best thing about my dentist's office is that every time I go in for a cleaning or treatment they clean my rings in their ultrasonic cleaner, give me a warm paraffin hand treatment and a warm neck wrap. Nothing that costs the practice much money, but makes a trip to the dentist almost something to look forward to!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 5:05PM
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Here is a web picture of my dentist office. They also offer clean fluffy socks to keep the weather from being tracked through, and a lovely carafe of ice water with sliced lemons. After your visit they offer you a warm cloth and mirror to wash your face. I'm definitely a coward at at the dentist, and get sedation for anything more than a filling. That wall on the left has a waterfall feature.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 6:32PM
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I always schedule my appointments so I'm getting the staff coming back from lunch. No waiting time so I don't much care what's in the waiting room. Interesting pics on the ceiling in the treatment rooms are a must IMHO. Dentist/doctors offices are tough. You don't want too industrial but too "posh" always makes me think "No wonder this is costing me an arm and a leg." Clean. Calm colors. No upholstery or carpeting unless the office is willing to clean/replace frequently.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 7:07PM
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