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Bringing a Medical Office to Life: Top 4 Interior Design Tips

Posted by: WJ Miller
Category: e-news
Internist Emile Sabbagh, M.D. knew he wanted a specific look and feel for the complete renovation of his new Rocky River, Ohio office. But how he would achieve a soft, contemporary interior to welcome his patients was unclear.

While Dr. Sabbagh was confident his contractor W. J. Miller Builders would lead the physical transformation, he wasn’t aware that “full-service” was the operative term when selecting Miller Builders—until meeting the company’s interior design expert Diane Miller.
“I didn’t know Miller Builders offered interior design services. But from our first meeting, I knew Diane would be thoughtful and patient about how we approached the project,” stated Dr. Sabbagh. “Her passion and taste helped guide me throughout the six-month renovation to ensure what I envisioned came to life.”
Timely Transformation Tips

Miller Builders’ three generations of experience is known for providing specialized construction to the healthcare community throughout Northeast Ohio. As their crew began revamping Dr. Sabbagh’s space into his ultimate office, Diane initiated her design vision. Although her projects vary by each client’s needs, there are primary considerations that hold true across the office design spectrum. Here are Diane’s top four office interior design tips to consider for a visually customized space to suit your practice’s needs.

1 – Do Your Design Homework
It may be hard to visualize the end result of your office renovation soon after demolition, but interior design elements should be top of mind from the beginning of the project. To get started, Diane recommends each client do some homework before she meets with them.

“While many clients may not be sure what they do like, they usually know what they don’t like. To help determine the overall likes and dislikes, I ask them to provide insight into how they want the office to look and function for their patients, in addition to overall preferred colors and design style,” she explains. “This information prepares me to physically present samples of colors, textures and patterns for everything from wall coverings and flooring to countertops and beyond to begin a conversation about overall design throughout the job.

“I also ask they share any samples of design elements they may be keeping—if they’re keeping orange chairs in the reception area, we immediately have a specific color to work with,” Diane explains.

In the case of Dr. Sabbagh’s office, the color scheme that first came to mind for his contemporary preference included the bold blue and green from his company logo. But, soon he gravitated to the grays, natural earth shades and off-whites to inspire the space. “Color has been shown to influence a person’s overall mood, and this can impact the feel of your office. By leaning toward the lighter, more comforting colors we elevated the warm, contemporary design, while also pulling in blue and green accents from his brand logo,” said Diane.

2 – Agree to Decide

Designing the interior elements of an office space isn’t like creating a design scope for a house with many different rooms. But, while there may be a smaller color palette to work with and less design decisions to make, it’s important to decide who will be approving the design elements throughout the project.

“I ask that any decision makers come to the first meeting, and advise to keep decisions to one or two people,” Diane said. “There are many decisions, including selecting carpet and finishes that need to be made as quickly as possible to ensure these correspond within the renovation timing. If we can get final decisions within about three to four meetings, we’re usually on schedule.”
Interested in design help? Give us a call at (216) 651-7795.

3 – Customize Your New Space

Medical practice design and configuration has undergone significant changes throughout the last decade. Factors that influence interior design decisions include new technology, the need to improve patient flow and staff efficiency and utilizing new space for efficiency.

To enhance Dr. Sabbagh’s office design, the lobby was streamlined with a custom curved reception desk created in Miller Builders’ in-house custom cabinetry shop. The customized piece, complete with an engraved edge detail, allowed Diane to reinvent the space while also supporting patient flow for easier check-in. Added features throughout the office include a break room with a bar and stools and an additional spare office complete with custom desks and task chairs for clinicians.


“Each space should be maximized through cabinetry and furnishings that add interest, but also functional,” said Diane. “For instance, adding a chair rail in the lobby adds interest, but also protects the wall from patients pushing chairs against the wall.”
4 – Add the Unusual

While it can be challenging to add design elements for a special touch within a budget, it can be accomplished, according to Diane.

Case in point: Dr. Sabbagh’s office originally specified wood doors throughout the hallways. Instead, Diane recommended glass framed doors with a decorative film design to add interest. Also, from a visual perspective two different shades of the same color were used throughout the office, but Diane used the darker shade on one side of the hallway to give it the illusion of appearing wider. Both elements were accomplished affordably while making an impressive impact.
“Dr. Sabbagh has a mind for details, and it’s the little details that make the difference,” she said. “Everything from the doors to the artwork and lighting added the unusual and made for a cohesive design.”
See how Miller Builders transformed Dr. Sabbagh’s office through custom construction and interior design solutions.