Vintage Charm in Pennsylvania

FP fans, meet Deb Owens, a therapist in Chestnut Hill (Philadelphia), PA!

Her original feature appeared on FP in April 2017. Now, nearly 2 years later we’re re-featuring her practice and showing off her new space, a revival of a historic property!

1) HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE STYLE OF YOUR THERAPY OFFICE?

I moved into this space two months ago. It is an historic one-story home like property.

The exterior is built from local Fieldstone with the original solid wood door, shutters, and iron ware. Its 7 blocks down the hill from my previous office of 5 years although in a more residential section that’s still part of the “town” atmosphere.

I am in love with this neighborhood and had waited for this space to be available. The build out took several months.

It included adding a new bright generously sized powder room with a huge window and a small wait room with a vestibule in between.

We took down a wall to turn two offices into one large suite so the desk area and therapy space are combined. We modernized the interior while blending in with the cobblestone street village like setting.

Inside the eclectic vibe includes transitional, mid- century vintage, and modern touches.

The rear offers several first- floor windows looking onto a garden with a view of springhouse from the 1800s while the waiting area window out front centers on the city scape.

This is my 3rd office, the second one on my own. It’s the first time I have a real ceiling instead of those icky drop tile ones with florescent lights. Yep, I said that. It matters what I look up to. I added two semi flush fixtures I found on Wayfair but usually only need the lamps for lighting.

My therapist chair swivels. This is helpful in a large space where individuals and couples may choose a chair facing me or the couch. I can pivot. A necessary skill for any therapist.

2) WHAT VIBE DO YOU HOPE YOUR OFFICE GIVES YOUR THERAPY CLIENTS?

It is in the mist of the village like setting of Chestnut Hill, a section of Philadelphia bordering the suburbs. I love that its private yet within steps of cafes, art galleries, and two coffee shops. Chestnut Hill is considered the Garden District and it’s all that in the vibe without dismissing the decidedly urban feel.

I made sure my office reflects both feminine and masculine elements. A home- made throw discovered at a craft store in Vermont provides an accent to the couch along with several pillows, art, and vases that I change out from time to time.

Little touches matter. On Etsy I found a chevron tissue box holder. A small Pottery Barn clock keeps me mindful of time to pace the session while a smaller crystal one is client facing so they can keep pace as well.

Sure, it’s a cliché, but I strive for warmth. I work with many professionals and successful individuals and couples. It’s an upscale setting and address yet it’s not pretentious. Free parking is right out front for those in a hurry coming and going from work.

Original hardwood floors were recently refinished. A Restoration Hardware faded vintage style rug sits under the desk section while a multi-hued blues/teals/greens/greys thicker area rug anchors the therapy space along with a modern round glass coffee table. The tall metal lamp is also from RH adding an element of industrial to that corner.

I love the 6 deep window sills. Plants offer some privacy while not obstructing the views. Outside plantings mean I only need to use blinds on one of the windows.

Blues, Greens, Greys and Browns/Tans are the color scheme.

At nighttime two exterior fixtures flanking the entrance way are augmented by twinkly lights up in the tree on my corner. There’s a mix of Colonial era and Mid- Century Modern street lamps. A bank of six magnificent stately trees complement the slate walkway adjacent to the urban streetscape.

3) DO YOU HAVE ANY CREATURE COMFORTS IN YOUR OFFICE FOR CLIENTS?

I have a Mad Men era solid wood cabinet that serves as a refrigerator for beverages. It was in an attorney’s office in the 70s and has been painted to match the wait room. A small bowl on top might hold individually wrapped Winto-greens. Fresh flowers from my garden or a florist up the street.

4) WHO DESIGNED AND DECORATED YOUR THERAPY OFFICE? DID YOU GET HELP FROM PROFESSIONALS, COLLEAGUES, FRIENDS, OR FAMILY?

Outside of seeking random colleague input on social media I threw it together. It’s a work in progress.

I feel honored to do this work and hope my space reflects that attitude.

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?

Don’t buy seating on line. You need to ensure comfort and the ergonomics. My couch and chairs are from Crate & Barrell. At my last office I made sure clients had the “view”. Luckily in this one we both can rest our eyes on nature both in and outside of the windows.

You’ll spend a lot of time in your office so don’t be afraid to pay extra to have a space you love.

Deb Owens is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Chestnut Hill (Philadelphia), PA…

Deborah Owens

She specializes in marriage/couples counseling, anxiety, and those concerned about their own or loved one’s alcohol or substance use.

She also offers executive coaching at Fortune 100 companies, private practice coaching, and runs a monthly supervision group that thankfully her large office space can accommodate.

Learn more about her work at:
debowens.com