Categorized | Featured Articles, Management

Color your office professional

Create a professional first impression to woo your customers    

By Judith Sisler Johnston    

In business, first impressions are everything. Everyone—clients and potential clients—forms a lastingWaiting Area impression in less than 60 seconds, which is why it is vital to pay attention to your business’ surroundings. The same design principles used to market homes also apply to office design.

In today’s economic environment, budget is often an issue and business owners are looking for ways to do more with less. Many cost-effective interior design recommendations can make a stylish difference while creating a setting for business success. (Hint: If your office has multiple areas, spend more money on the public spaces, focusing on the entry and reception area, and keep individual or back-office areas more streamlined.)

The appearance of your business space should reflect your company’s brand and marketing message. It should communicate what the business is about and what products or services you provide. Look at your business and make an assessment the same way a potential client or stranger would see it. Does it have appeal?

Here are some things to consider to make your business more inviting:

Outside impressions

• Signage. Professional signage is important in every business suite so visitors can confirm the business location. Make sure the signage is clear, clean, and professional.

• Front door. The front door should have a fresh coat of paint.

• Windows. Keep the windows clean and let the light in.

• Lawn area and parking lot. Keep the grass mowed and weed-free. Regularly police the parking lot for trash and broken bottles. 

• Mail box. If you have a drop box, make sure it isn’t rusty.


If people come to your office to transact business, your entry statement is critical. Give considerable thought about what kind of first impression you want your business environment to make.

The entry area should have a warm, inviting and welcoming presence. It goes without saying it should be neat, clean, and coordinated, with no clutter and no dust bunnies hiding under the side tables. The goal is to make your guests believe someone planned the entry area just for them. Your business can be the best at what it does, but if your entry statement isn’t welcoming, the office environment will communicate a negative impression.

• Furnishings. Furnishings in the entry area should include a reception desk or greeting station as well as a seating area with chairs, an accent table and artwork, which can include photographs of your work or awards your business has received. Wood furnishings should match or complement the other furnishings.

• Upholstery. Leather is luxurious, but budget watchers know leather furnishings are expensive. Instead of selecting chairs and couches upholstered in leather-like vinyl as a cost-cutting measure, choose upholstered fabrics.

• Lighting. Provide adequate and comfortable lighting so visitors can relax or work while waiting.

• Carpet and wallcoverings. If the budget permits, new carpet and wallcoverings can help to present a professional image. (Avoid wall coverings that look like they belong in a child’s nursery.) Choose textural wallcoverings over patterned, and consider using wallcoverings in limited ways, such as on an accent wall to give the entry way (or other rooms) interest.

Other common areas

In addition to the entry, consider other areas clients visit such as the conference room, meeting office, and restroom. Give these spaces the same considerations you would give at home by including decorative elements that are appealing to your visitors. A store-bought framed mirror can add design interest to a commercial restroom, for instance.

Even if you don’t physically meet with clients in your office location, it is important to have a well designed office for the sake of your employees. People who work in attractive environments are more productive.

Your office’s design should be well coordinated and pleasing to the eye. When selecting carpet, wallcoverings, lighting and furnishings, get the best look and quality for whatever budget you have. Attractive office design communicates professionalism.

Even if you do the work yourself, it can be a good investment to hire a licensed, professional interior designer for a consultation to obtain ideas or get a qualified second opinion. It will make a difference in the outcome and probably save you money in the process.

judith sisler smallJudith Sisler Johnston, president of Sisler Johnston Interior Design (, is an allied member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), and is a Certified Green Professional (CGP). She can be reached at 904-288-0908.



Say ‘no’ to white walls

Your office should reflect the uniqueness and personality of your business in color and style. Many business owners rent and may have to work with existing elements in their tenant space. If you are able to start from scratch, however, you have the opportunity to bring your own color palette into play. Make sure it is appropriate for your business.

Paint is the most economical way to change a space and painting one wall a deeper shade as an accent wall can add impact to the space.

Avoid plain white walls. Select light or medium colored wall paint, such as caramel or smoke hues. These project richness and coordinate with many other colors. Neutral hues serve as a handsome backdrop when used in flooring and walls. You can then add bold color accents within the office furnishings and décor for impact and style.

Using this approach will make it more economical to update without requiring a complete redesign.

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