Q: What kind of client seating should I use in my reception area? I’d like it to be comfortable but also durable and easy to clean.
A: Try to give your patients a lot of options, says Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Dan Chapel, AIA, owner of Chapel Associates Architects in Little Rock, Ark. Chapel learned this approach through experience—he used to fill his reception area with built-in bench seating that was neither comfortable nor movable.
To change things up, Chapel took ideas from newer human medicine facilities. He suggests placing movable benches around the perimeter of your reception area and then adding a few chairs. This way the clients can sit in a group—or separate themselves from the group. Also, Chapel no longer segregates cats from dogs. It doesn’t do much good when two cats are fighting or a child is afraid of a dog. Instead he tries to give his pet owners as many options as possible so they can create their own comfort zone.
It’s hard to turn down soft, cushiony seating, especially when you get a great deal at IKEA or a similarly priced furniture store. If you’re afraid that dogs and cats will ruin the cushions, don’t worry—they will, Chapel says. Just be prepared to replace the couches or, removable cushions, every three to four years.
For younger pet owners, Chapel suggests installing tables that are 30 inches tall so children can color while they wait. Put in tall bistro tables, like the kind you would find in a café or bar, for the adults. Some people like to sit up high and read the paper. Finally, adding a coffee maker to your reception area will get some good smells circulating through your practice, Chapel says.