FP fans, meet Dr. Jennifer Panning, a therapist in Evanston, IL!
1) HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE STYLE OF YOUR THERAPY OFFICE?
Our offices are cozy, warm, and soothing. They are modern with comfortable furniture and a neutral palette of color but also pops of color and texture.
I’ve had clients describe our offices as calming, beautiful, professional, and warm.
I love using area rugs to ground a space as well as add texture and color, so each office has its own rug which coordinates well with the furniture and storage in that office.
2) WHAT VIBE DO YOU HOPE YOUR OFFICE GIVES YOUR THERAPY CLIENTS?
I hope that our clients feel relaxed and comfortable from the moment they step into the waiting room! I want them to feel like they can take off their shoes and curl up on the couch with a cup of tea or coffee during their session—therapy can be hard work so having some small comforts can help with the process of opening up.
I hope they are soothed by the artwork, accessories, and plants—all of which were chosen to contribute to a welcoming, thoughtful, and professional environment. They will see hints of nature throughout our offices–in artwork as well as plants in each office–which is a small way to bring the healing element of nature into our space.
3) DO YOU HAVE ANY CREATURE COMFORTS IN YOUR OFFICE FOR CLIENTS?
In our waiting room, we have tea, coffee, and hot chocolate available for clients.
Each office has a blanket next to the couch where clients sit for easy access. This may sound like a small detail, but I wanted to make sure that each furniture piece was not only stylish but extremely comfortable!
I bring my goldendoodle, Jordy, to the office every so often for stress relief (for both clients and therapists!) He will need more training before he can come to the office more regularly, but that is my goal since many clients feel comforted by the friendly presence of a dog.
4) WHO DESIGNED AND DECORATED YOUR THERAPY OFFICE? DID YOU GET HELP FROM PROFESSIONALS, COLLEAGUES, FRIENDS, OR FAMILY?
Starting this process, I knew the vibe I wanted to create, but I also recognized that I needed help to translate my vision into reality.
My good friend and designer Kathy Fahey had helped me with my home design renovation so I knew that I needed to hire her to help with the office design.
I own a group practice and this is a three office suite; the previous therapists had occupied the suite for many years. Thankfully the office management helped by replacing the old carpeting with beautiful hardwood floors, and also did an excellent job painting and adding practical details such as a storage closet in our waiting room.
My stepmom and dad own New Leaf Remodeling in Rockford, Illinois and helped me with space planning and efficient layouts for a therapist technology area and kitchen nook.
My designer Kathy and I worked from a shared Pinterest board to choose furniture selections and accessories. She made large paint swatches from a neutral palette, so we hung up several options for each office and saw how each color reflected light at various times of the day.
Our space is not terribly large, and I wanted to create a spacious feeling, so making sure the size and scale of the furniture fit was another focus.
Throughout the process, I also invited my staff for input on office design, colors, artwork, etc since our remodel was also for all of us to feel good about working in a lovely space.
We moved into the new suite in November 2016 and I still love coming to work every day in our beautiful space.
5) ANY ADVICE FOR THERAPISTS WHO ARE JUST STARTING OUT AND DESIGNING THEIR OFFICE FOR THE FIRST TIME, OR SEASONED THERAPISTS LOOKING TO REDESIGN THEIR OFFICES?
I would recommend that a therapist would need to determine if she is interested in and has the skills for designing the space herself or needs help from a designer.
Then of course thinking of practical considerations such as budget! Sometimes it is good to think outside of the box—for instance, a few of artwork pieces in the office were from my home that I realized worked better for my office than in my home.
I encourage a therapist to think clearly about the atmosphere she wants to create and also how she wants to feel in her office every day!