Décor Ideas for Therapists' Offices

Sally Painter
Man visiting doctors office for therapy

A therapist's office décor should address specific psychological nuances that need to be conveyed through the choices of colors, design, and decorative accents. Following this objective ensures the most effective design.

Human Reactions to Color in Interior Design

Most people seeing a therapist have some issue that impacts mental, emotional, spiritual, and, many times, physical health. Selecting the right color is imperative in creating the right kind of ambiance that will be conducive to constructive therapy.

Color Affects System

Prominent color psychologist and author Angela Wright developed the theory of "Color Affects System" (Wright Theory) that was scientifically validated and proved - color affects people in very universal and specific ways. This part of the "Color Affects System" can assist you in selecting the most appropriate colors for an office where a therapist works.

People react to color differently depending on its intensity. For example, a bright yellow room will stimulate a creative person, whereas a pale soft yellow will soothe the person. The four primary colors and their universal reactions are a great starting point for defining a therapist's office.

Four Primary Colors and Reactions
Color Affects Reaction
Blue Mind Stimulate higher productivity
Green Emotions Balance, calmness, reassuring
Yellow Creativity Self-confidence
Red Body Physical exertion

While there are four basic colors, there is a wide spectrum of hue variations for each.

  • Generally, it isn't a good idea to use intense colors in a space where emotions tend to run high.
  • Use more than one color to create a color palette for this type of office space. One or two other colors will keep the color choices in balance.
  • It's important to control the intensity of your color palette and not allow it to become too vibrant and overpowering.

The best rule of thumb is to go with a pale color effect for the overall room design, such as pale colored walls for a calming and soothing affect. You can then layer darker hues and other colors throughout your office design.

Stimulating Blue Offices

Blue office décor for larger sessions
Blue office décor for larger sessions

A blue palette will stimulate the mind. In some instances, this might not be the reaction a therapist wishes to evoke as an overall stimuli for clients. Even a pale blue might prove too much stimulus for some patients. The key is balance.

Start With Walls

Begin with a blue office color scheme of pale to medium blue walls. Since blue stimulates the mind, it's important to use a minimal amount of darker hues so as not to overpower the mental senses. Add layers of lighter hues using canvas images or photographs.

You can use stencils or wallpapers along with paint or in place of paint. Just be sure that the patterns and colors don't overwhelm the office design.

Layer Accent Colors

Green and brown in varying hues are good accent colors to use with blue. You may prefer to go with yellow and white or blue and gray fabric choices for furniture. Lighter fabric hues will generate a soothing effect.

  • Lumbar and throw pillows should match the color palette.
  • Use the fabric's texture to further soothe clients. Chenille in blue is a good choice.
  • Add a group of light aqua vases as accent pieces or a single larger vase in turquoise.

Color Saturation

Blues with strong intensity hues will stimulate clear thinking. This can be used to your advantage when working with clients. Add a few art objects for this color accent. Don't over-decorate. Less is more when it comes to adding more intense blue. This can also be done with fabric choices that are patterned and offer a mix of colors.

Balanced Green Offices

Green room decor by Chelle Design
Green room décor for group session

Green is described as the color of balance. It should be used with other colors to create a genuine balance of color. Too much green will have a negative effect that borders on boredom and gives the perception of the room being bland. It can overpower to the point of generating a feeling of stagnation.

Start With Walls

A pale green will help to soothe the emotional reactions of clients. A green décor scheme will create a restful and calming environment. You can layer this with accents of medium to darker green.

For example, you may choose to paint the wall a light green and add a grouping of five, seven, or nine dark wood framed photos or paintings of forest scenes.

Layer Accent Colors

Choose a coordinated set of patterns in green striped fabric for draperies, upholstery, pillow fabrics, carpeting/rugs, and accent pieces. Fabrics might also be floral, or plaid fabric patterns.

  • A wall mural of a forest or lush mountainside with a creek or waterfall has a calming effect and is a great focal point.
  • Nature-themed wall art can be also be artistic in the way it's displayed, using multiple sizes in a larger set to create a unique look.
  • Art accent pieces can be displayed on a floating shelf or a set of three floating shelves for a stunning effect.

Color Saturation

You can use varying hues of green from light to medium and pepper in darker hues through the use of textiles and art objects. Keep the color balanced with another color. Green with white creates a wonderful contrast and a crisp, clean ambiance; consider using pillows as a way to add this contrast into the office.

If you're a golf enthusiast, you can express your love of the sport with photos of famous golf courses or yourself on the green. A horse lover can showcase rolling green pastures with running horses. Highlight the office with a few green art objects in various textures of glass, pottery and fabric choices.

Positive Yellow Offices

Yellow room decor
Yellow office décor

Yellow is the strongest psychological color. A bright yellow will assist in elevating the sense of self-confidence and inspire creative solutions. The right hue can have powerful positive psychological responses. Too much yellow in your room design, or too intense a hue, can have a negative psychological impact ranging from plummeting self-esteem to increased fear and anxiety.

Start With Walls

For a great design, select a soft pale yellow. Repeat this color in fabric and accessory choices like lamps, mixing in varying hues of light to medium to dark.

However, be sure to layer the accent colors to avoid overwhelming clients and creating the aforementioned negative effects.

Layer Accent Colors

A crisp white can be used as an accent color, along with primary colors green or blue. The next color on a color wheel is red, but there is a wide range of colors between yellow and red, such as salmon, gold, orange, and peach, that allow you to layer while keeping the yellow theme. Some ways to layer accent colors include:

  • Add lumbar and throw pillows in a stripe, plaid, or solid color.
  • Draperies can be a solid white, green, or blue or a print fabric.
  • Simple white blinds can be closed as necessary.
  • Art objects, like vase sets, can be rounded or curved for calming forms.

Color Saturation

The overall effect of a green and yellow room will be calming yet conducive to finding creative solutions and building self-confidence. Photos and paintings of sunflowers, yellow and white daisies, and other nature scenes can have a calming yet vibrant effect in a room design.

Yellow and white create a bright and cheerful color contrast in a room design. The color theme can be carried out in stripe and plaid throw pillows, a yellow and white floral lamp shade or a white and yellow bird figurine placed on a bookshelf.

Bright/Dark Red Offices Are Not Typically Recommended

Soft red and pink hues by Mandarina Interior Design Studio
Soft red and pink hues in office

A red office isn't a good choice since it evokes a physical response from the individual and is a highly intense hue that can easily overstimulate. Red could stimulate a physical reaction and could even prove threatening in some situations. For someone suffering from anger issues, this color could easily fuel that tendency.

Pale Hues Paired With Other Colors

If opting for this color palette, it would be best to keep it in a soft pink, like in fabrics or wall art, and never a bright or deep colored red or burgundy. It's better to go with a pale version in a soft rose or light pink used as accent colors with one of the other primary colors.

Accent Options

Alternatively, use red accent pieces, like vases, sparingly with light hues of green, yellow or blue as the main color. A good way to work this in is using posters or art prints of nature. Red accent pieces can be very effective choices for the other primary colors in this particular room design. Mix red art objects with yellow ones or other color accent pieces.

Office Furniture and Accessories

As important as the colors, textures and patterns, the way you layout the office and additional decorative items you use for accent pieces are equally important. Clients should have an immediate and positive response to your office design. They should feel comfortable and "at home" during their appointments.

Furniture for Comfort and Style

Most therapists opt for a couch or a pair of chairs as their furniture choices. This is especially effective for couples or family counseling practices. An ottoman may be a good choice for additional seating for larger families.

Some therapists prefer individual sessions over group and opt for a recliner or chaise lounge. Group sessions will require furniture that can be stowed or easily moved to create a circle.

  • Oversized reclining sofa: This style offers comfort and a reclining option.
  • Contoured chaise lounge: A chaise lounge offers relaxed seating.
  • Settee: A settee is an ideal choice for couple's counseling or a parent and child session.
  • Pair of chairs: An intimate pair of wing-backed chairs is ideal in one-on-one counseling. The high back gives a sense of security and protection.
  • Recliner: Style is everything, so select a recliner that fits the clientele. If working with teenagers, a more modern design might work best.
  • Folding chairs: Brings a sense of hominess to the group circle with upholstered wood chairs.

Pay attention to chair styles and functions. For example, a swivel chair might be ill-conceived for a nervous patients that focuses on the movement of the chair instead of what's being said.

  • Chair style: Don't neglect your personal style and the room's color when selecting a desk and chair.
  • Desk and chair: Comfort while working is paramount for any office, but you can still opt for a contemporary set if you choose.

Area Rugs

Add a rug for texture and comfort.

  • A blue area rug can become the main centerpiece and tie together wall, furniture, and red accent pieces.
  • This modern green area rug can be used with white painted walls, white wood furniture, and green floral cushions.
  • A solid colored yellow area rug makes a great back drop for the rest of your room color palette and patterns.

Lighting

Lighting shouldn't be intrusive.

  • Desk lamps are important and should be selected for function as well as style.
  • Floor lamps are a great way to add more lighting without taking up table space.
  • Recessed lighting on a dimmer switch is a must for creating the right ambiance for relaxation.

Sounds

Some therapists use sound to help clients relax and learn new coping techniques. While many use music, other tools can be used that are also objects used to enhance room décor.

  • Water fountain: Select a desktop style for an end table or coffee table or a larger one to set on the floor.
  • Wind chimes: The effect of wind chimes in a gentle breeze can be recreated with a low-speed oscillating floor fan. Select soft sounding chimes. A decorative tabletop wind chime can be placed on a coffee table or end table.

Plants and Flowers

Plants and fresh flowers offer a vibrancy to any office. Living plants can inspire, encourage, and improve attitudes. Purchase from local shops. Buy a bouquet of fresh flowers to keep in a vase on a desk, replacing with fresh ones the moment the flowers begin to wilt.

  • Floor plants can be used as decorative elements. Place at entrances, corners, and behind sofas or chairs.
  • Potted tabletop plants add depth and interest to the use of plants in room designs.
  • Fresh cut floral arrangements can be set on a desk, shelf, bookcase, or tabletop to add aroma, color and texture.

Personalize Office Design

While a therapist's office design needs to be mindful of the clients it will service, it still needs to reflect the therapist. Be sure to add special touches that reflect travels, hobbies, education, collections, and other personal touches to make it unique and individual.

Décor Ideas for Therapists' Offices