As the importance of waiting rooms pushes design to new levels with better layouts and various social experiences, healthcare facilities are also placing greater emphasis on aesthetics to up the ante.

Christine Guzzo Vickery, vice president and senior interior healthcare designer HGA Architects and Engineers (Minneapolis), says one of the key elements she emphasizes to clients is good lighting.

“If a space is over-lit like an office, it doesn’t feel soothing or comfortable,” she says. Instead, Vickery suggests having a variety of light sources and bringing in natural light with views to the outdoors to improve the overall feel of a space.

To fulfill goals to provide a variety of comfortable places to sit, Erin Schmidt, an interior designer at GBBN Architects (Cincinnati), suggests using furniture in a range of styles, colors, and fabric choices.

“Even though a gang set of chairs might be the least expensive option and can seat the most people, [clients are] recognizing that it’s worth it to spend money on something that provides options and makes everybody feel more welcome and comfortable,” she says.

Artwork is another feature that can go a long way in establishing a desired look and feel for waiting areas.

Michelle Granelli, senior design director at Urban Chalet (San Francisco), suggests choosing a statement piece, such as a metal bird sculpture that was used to complement the mid-century modern building at One Medical Group’s Burlingame, Calif., primary care office, and then filling in a space with smaller, more affordable pieces to complete the look.

“The whole experience creates a lasting impression,” she says.

For more on waiting room design trends, see the article “Waiting Rooms: How To Design To Impress.”

Anne DiNardo is senior editor of Healthcare Design. She can be reached at