Whether in business or personal relationships, there’s no arguing the importance of making a good first impression. That adage also applies to interior environments, where the first impression of a commercial space can set the tone for the entire customer experience. A space that is well-maintained and visually appealing conveys professionalism and attention to detail, building trust and confidence in the business. Unfortunately, if left untouched, spaces that people are likely to frequent multiple times—such as waiting rooms, lobbies and check-in areas—will soon show their age through years of wear-and-tear and outdated design. Beyond the first impression, businesses can set themselves apart by providing a fresh and attractive environment.
One of the easiest ways to bring a space current is to update finishes such as sheet goods, doors, and lighting, or even by using some of the more modern design options like dimensional moldings. These remodels can be completed fairly quickly and at a relatively low cost compared to more extensive renovations. In a marketplace crowded with service providers all vying for the customer’s attention, aesthetic impact can be a good-impression multiplier that will help your customers stand out among their competition.
There is no physical difference between an art gallery wall and a wall in a hotel lobby or clinic waiting room. But how the wall is used to make an impression makes all the difference in the world. Owners of commercial spaces can learn a thing or two from gallery owners about the impact a simple color or texture change can have on guests as they walk in the door—and how easy it is to change looks without requiring demolition, extensive mess and distracting noise.
Wall covering systems are available that mount panels to existing walls using snaps or French cleats, making the installation quick and efficient. This system also allows for quick and easy removal if you need to access electrical components behind it or need to replace the panel. These can mount to standard gypsum or tile substrates or they can be mounted through substrates, without the demolition time and mess of removing them.
Panels are available in innumerable colors, designs and physical textures to complement any design intent, including wood grain finishes, visually appealing patterns, or custom-printed inspiration. Just adding moldings can help add visual interest and can be installed over current wallcoverings—a quick, easy and cost-effective way to achieve paneled looks. If your client needs to provide a calmer, more subdued space, you can also incorporate acoustic panels into the recommended design. Plus, wall panels built for high performance in heavily trafficked areas are easy to clean and maintain, meaning they will look professional for years to come before the owner or facility manager has to consider the next solution.
While often a design afterthought, the right doors communicate a lot to a patient, customer or guest. They can be integrated into the design or stand out as a focal point of the space. Doors can be a canvas for signage, messaging, photos or graphic images, and they can even be incorporated into a wall panel mural. Functionally, doors are available with durable finishes that withstand wear-and-tear, allowing for a long-lasting look and less replacement or repair. For more sensitive areas or those that require levels of added protection, it is possible to upgrade doors, making them bullet-resistant, barrier resistant, or reduce sound transmission without requiring structural or framing changes.
Entrances are high-traffic areas and function as both a visual and physical entrance point. When determining your project scope, consider upgrading the entrance flooring to improve durability and wear resistance and to round out enhancements to the visual appeal of the space. Entrance mat or grid systems offer rugged options to welcome people, and many are available in tiles, making them easy and quick to install. Customize it with a logo to underscore the company brand.
Elevate the Space
While it’s important to put your best foot forward, it’s critical to keep in mind the effect an environment can have on the people who interact with it and how it will shape their experience emotionally. People seek commercial spaces for vastly different needs and the reason for their visit dictates the emotions they bring with them to the space.
Updating the flooring, doors and walls in a healthcare setting creates a more inviting and professional environment for new patients, which can help reduce anxiety they may have about visiting the doctor. Returning patients will certainly notice the upgrades, improving their impression of the provider, too. Introducing doors with sound transmission control in the waiting room and exam rooms can help reduce unwanted sound intrusion between spaces, making patients feel more comfortable discussing their needs. And the value of replacing dated privacy curtain designs in exam rooms can’t be overstated either, especially when some privacy curtains are also manufactured to provide acoustical properties.
Some manufacturers offer a variety of interior products in well-coordinated finishes, taking some of the guesswork out of design and finish decisions. Having this benefit empowers in-house staff and even contractors to confidently select finishes that will look professional, last a long time, and function as needed.
A hotel lobby is often the first thing that guests see when they arrive and is the opportunity to relay a sense of the experience the guest can expect to have. And in a competitive market, the look of a hotel goes a long way in earning business and booking returning guests. This is why many hotels renovate their spaces every five to seven years. A contractor can give the space a fresh look by updating the flooring, adding new lighting fixtures, and applying a modern color scheme to the walls through commercial-grade wall protection. A more luxurious wall or flooring option would upscale the look to help justify a higher room rate. Or, if budget is a concern, consider recommending a combination of ambient and accent lighting to create a warm and inviting atmosphere that complements a new wall or flooring pattern.
An office can soon feel stale and outdated, unintentionally reducing both employee morale and productivity. New wall coverings can add patterns, texture, and depth for visual stimulation, incorporate internal company messaging, or put the mission on full display. Adding plants and other decorative elements can create a more pleasant and inspiring work environment with nods to biophilia. To make the space more energy efficient, consider incorporating new technology, such as automated lighting and temperature control.
In all the above scenarios, it is important to understand the specific needs and requirements of your client and suggest changes accordingly. This will help to create a space that is not only visually appealing but also functional and comfortable for the building occupants who spend the majority of their day within the walls of these spaces.