FP fans, meet Kristina Ferrari, a therapist in Haverford, PA!
1) HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE STYLE OF YOUR THERAPY OFFICE?
My office has a California modern vibe, despite the fact that it’s in suburban Philadelphia. I’ve always gravitated toward modern design — mid-century mixed with boho — so I love clean lines and textural elements like woods and greenery. I wanted to create a space that felt like me, but was universally appealing.
2) WHAT VIBE DO YOU HOPE YOUR OFFICE GIVES YOUR THERAPY CLIENTS?
I hope the office gives off a soothing, welcoming, warm and protective vibe. Good design isn’t really about beauty, it’s about eliciting emotions.
I hope clients know, that they experience, the care that went into creating a space for them and in support of their journey.
3) DO YOU HAVE ANY CREATURE COMFORTS IN YOUR OFFICE FOR CLIENTS?
I love creature comforts and actively ensure they are available to clients. The waiting room always has little chocolates and mints – which admittedly I enjoy myself from time to time. There’s also a cart stocked with sparkling water and other beverages.
All the offices have blankets for clients and the hallways are filled with both white noise sound machines for privacy and scented diffusers.
There’s an Amazon Echo device looping soothing gentle music, as well as an iPad where clients can check-in; sending a text message to their clinician that they’ve arrived. This prevents the clinician from having to continuously check the waiting room.
4) WHO DESIGNED AND DECORATED YOUR THERAPY OFFICE? DID YOU GET HELP FROM PROFESSIONALS, COLLEAGUES, FRIENDS, OR FAMILY?
I designed and decorated my office and much of the common areas (waiting room, hallway, kitchen and bath) with support from my friend and colleague who also has an office in the same suite.
Prior to becoming a therapist, I had a career in marketing, branding and design so this is a space where I feel quite comfortable. While the actual construction of the office dictated some of the design, I always had a vision for how I wanted my office to look and feel.
One area that was important was that there were personal elements that reflected me and my sense of style without being overt. For instance, on my bookshelves I have a framed blueprint that my best friend, an architect, drew, a key to my childhood home in a stone dish, varsity pins that my sons earned, a Buddha my mom got for me from a trip to Bali, a glass etched with the map of my hometown, as well as several artifacts from vacations.
All these elements are extremely personal to me, but they are also ubiquitous enough to be appealing to all.
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 recall walking into my now therapist of seven years’ office and thinking, “Ok, at least I will feel comfortable sitting here.” I had been in and out of so many offices that didn’t feel wrong, but never felt quite right. While the design and decor of his office has certainly diminished in importance to me as our relationship has developed, it was no small part of what sparked our work together.
I feel that, generally speaking, clinicians devalue the aesthetic of their office.
Every client that walks into my space comments on the design. People notice. They notice the care and intention that went into creating the space, even if it’s not necessarily their personal style.
Here are some general tips for designing an office with care:
1. Utilize ambient lighting. Overhead fluorescents are harsh and can make someone feel like they’re being interrogated; dimmable LEDs and lamps are preferable by far.
2. Bookshelves aren’t just for books. Shelving is a fantastic place to inject style and design and they should absolutely not just have books on them. I like taking the covers off books so the palate is more cohesive. Stack books horizontally with potted succulents or sculptural elements on top. Show both the spine and the pages of vertically stacked books for a streamlined color palate. Add candle sticks, glassware filled with shells or sea glass, vessels, wooden spheres, etc.
3. Diplomas and certifications are important to have in your office, but they shouldn’t be the center of attention and you don’t need to frame every piece of paper you’ve ever received. I think clients want to see your credentials, but they don’t necessarily want to stare at them week after week.
4. Use greenery! This makes spaces feel alive and vibrant. I mix in both faux and real plants to accommodate various sun conditions. Want to make your faux potted plants look real? Add actual dirt. The large fiddle-leaf fig in my office is faux, but I placed it in a basket filled with potting soil. It’s really hard to tell the difference and I don’t have to worry about the right conditions to keep it looking lush.
5. Art work should be unique, but not controversial. The artwork in my office leans more midcentury and typographical, while some of the other clinicians in the space have more landscapes or similarly soothing designs. We also have a large piece in the waiting room where we post quotes, inspiration or thought provoking sayings. It’s living art.
Kristina Ferrari is a pre-licensed professional pursuing an LPC in Haverford, PA…