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Dr. Sharp: Hello, everyone. Welcome to The Testing Psychologist podcast, the podcast where we talk all about the business and practice of psychological and neuropsychological assessment. I’m your host, Dr. Jeremy Sharp, licensed psychologist, group practice owner, and private practice coach.

This episode is brought to you by PAR. The  BRIEF2 ADHD form uses  BRIEF2 scores to predict the likelihood of ADHD. It’s available on PARiConnect- PAR’s online assessment platform. Learn more at parinc.com

All right, everybody, I’m excited to have my guest today, Cheryl Janis. We are talking all about how to create a welcoming space. This is an often overlooked area in our field and just another thing that we have not gotten education on in our grad school training.

Let me tell you a little bit about Cheryl. She has spent 15 years teaching healthcare and medical professionals how to transform their practices into nurturing spaces that also increase revenue. She takes an approach where she basically evaluates the patient experience from the moment they walk through the door until the time they leave, and every step in between to gauge the design choices.

She has a role in two podcasts. She hosts and produces Healthcare Interior Design 2.0 podcast. And she is also the co-host and producer of The Wellness Design Podcast, where she and her co-host discuss all things healthcare design for the small office space. Cheryl has written two books, The Color Cure 2.0 and The Waiting Room Cure. You can find them on her website which will be linked in the show notes.

Cheryl is also graciously offering a special price for virtual healthcare office design for our listeners. So if you contact her at cheryl@cherylrjanis.com and mention that you heard her on The Testing Psychologist podcast, you can enjoy a 20% discount off of virtual office design consultation.

So I think there’s a lot to take away from this episode. We really get into the details and Cheryl offers some pretty concrete advice for how to design our space and things to stay away from and where to spend our money. That makes the most sense among many other things. So please enjoy this conversation with Cheryl Janis.

Hey, Cheryl, welcome to the podcast.

Cheryl: Hi Jeremy. It’s so great to be here. 

Dr. Sharp: Yes. Thank you so much for coming on. I am really excited to talk with you.

Cheryl: Good.

Dr. Sharp: Good. Yeah, I think there’s a lot to talk about. This is a topic that we have not really covered in any amount of detail on the podcast, but yet something that’s very important to our listeners.

Cheryl: Well, let’s get into the details. 

Dr. Sharp: Let’s do it. Yes. I like it. So yeah, let’s start. I would love to hear. If you could just describe the kind of work that you do exactly and why this is important.

Cheryl: Sure. Again, my name is Cheryl Janis. Right now, I’m a podcast host and producer of the Healthcare Interior Design 2.0 podcast.

For the last 15 years or so, I have been helping healthcare professionals in private practice like testing psychologists and other types of healthcare and medical professionals design their spaces on a budget and with attention to patients and clients and how they feel in the space. So really focusing on some design psychology and how that turns into profitability when people like your audience and who’s listening out there actually create a space where your patients, clients, and their families really feel good there.

Dr. Sharp: I love that.

Cheryl: Yeah, that’s what I do.

Dr. Sharp: You put it very succinctly. There’s a lot wrapped up in that that we’re going to talk about, which is a good thing. How did you get into this?  What about this calls to you?

Cheryl: I’m what they call a highly sensitive person. That’s a term that’s been coined by a psychologist and I forgot her name. Oh, you have to do Elaine

Dr. Sharp:  Elaine Aronson or something like that?

Cheryl: Yeah. So as a child, I got in a lot of accidents like children do, and I spent a lot of time in hospitals and whatnot and fell downstairs and in dentist chairs. Anyway, so I had a lot of experiences as a child and felt really terribly frightened by all those experiences.

And so, as I grew up, I continued to have those experiences and didn’t… I had these terrible times where the lighting was horrible in these spaces. And anyway, you know how it is with children, children can become terrified and that creates trauma.

I started studying Feng shui design probably in the early 2000s from a Western perspective. And I loved it because it looks at the psychology of space. How does the space feel? How can we work with the space to improve our health or attract relationships with others, all these kinds of things? So that led to more certifications and studying the color and studying some material design.

I was working with residential clients for many years, and once in a while, I did healthcare or a healing practice. And I found that I really enjoyed working with healing practices or healthcare practices, small practices because the results affected so many more people than just one person living in a home.

And so I started focusing on that. And actually, right now I only do it part-time because I’m doing other things because I’ve done it for so many years. But I’m excited today to share just so many tips for your listeners to DIY their space themselves. Well, that’s when I got into it.

Dr. Sharp: I like that. It’s, like a lot of things, born of our own experience, right? And that’s what drives us to do what we do.

Cheryl: Yeah.

Dr. Sharp: Maybe we could just start at the beginning. This is a naive question but I’d love to hear. When you even say psychology of space, what does that mean? And I imagine there are people out there that are like, is that really a thing? Why do we need to be worried about that? 

Cheryl: Well, I think that the easiest way to explain it is to look at the retail and restaurant industry and the way that they design their spaces. And I’m talking pre-COVID here.

You know how when you walk into a restaurant and you just love it, the food is good, but you end up staying there for a long time because the ambiance in some way feels good. I don’t know. There might be some plants in there. The colors might be beautiful, the lighting, whatever it is. And then you notice that the restaurant next door is empty.

And on Sunday morning, there’s a line out the door to this one amazing restaurant that has good food, but the place next door has pretty good food too, but it has white walls and it’s a cold feeling. 

I think that the easiest way is to explain it through our own personal experiences. All of us on planet earth have had those kinds of experiences. And that’s really just looking at the experience of a space and the design of the space and the psychology of the space. How does color affect us? How does lighting affect our neurology? And these things are all under the umbrella of evidence-based design.

And so there’s a lot of evidence that shows that the lighting in a space can really affect us negatively or positively. So that’s essentially what that is in a nutshell without getting too complicated.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah, that’s fair. Well, you are piquing my interest with this phrase evidence-based design and I’m guessing a lot of the psychologists out there are like, Ooh, you always love anything that’s evidence-based. What is that?

Cheryl:  There’s an organization called The Center for Health Design and they’re located in Concord, California, which is the East Bay. They’ve been around for a long time since the 70s, really. They officially opened, I think, in the 90s. They are your go-to resource for everything evidence-based design.

And so, you can become a member there. There are things that are free. There are webinars. And there are just, what do they call it? There’s something they call it. I can’t think of the word. It’s just this massive resource, like the Bible of evidence-based design. And so, hospitals, big facilities, places, and architects go there. That’s one of the resources to do research for the research team.

And this organization has set up over the years hospitals where they’ve tested stuff out. And one of the earliest evidence-based designs that they gave credibility to was Roger Orrick, who was an evidence psychologist. And I think it was in 1981, they published his study.

He did a study at a hospital on gallbladder surgery patients. So the same 7 or, I don’t know the amount, I think it was around 7 or 14 patients who were having gallbladder surgery stayed in a certain kind of room. And then the other ones stayed in another kind of room and nothing else was changed. They had the same nurses. They had the same doctors. They had the same surgeries. They had the same medications. Everything else was the same.

And the differences between these two rooms was one thing. One of the rooms had a window with a view of a tree, and one of the rooms have a view of a brick wall of another building. And guess what happened? Well, as you can probably guess because we all love being in nature, we know the benefits. Nobody has to tell us any evidence for that although there exists plenty of it. The patients that have the surgery in the room with the tree got out of the hospital earlier. They had less pain. They didn’t need as many pain medicines.

And so, I think this was the very first study that was accepted by the science community as, okay, yeah, you followed every little protocol for this. And he’s a famous person now in this industry because of that. He’s also, I heard, a very cool guy.

Dr. Sharp: That doesn’t hurt.

Cheryl: So the Center for Health Design if you’re really interested in the evidence, and it has just really piqued your interest, and we’ll talk about some of it here when we go through some of these tips that you can do for your office.

Dr. Sharp: I love that. I think I could be making this up, but it came from somewhere this idea that having a window in your office space is the most highly desirable characteristic of a job or something like that, independent of so many other factors you’d think would be more important. But that idea seems to transcend

Cheryl: We all know that. We all feel that. We all feel better with natural light when we’re in an office.

Dr. Sharp: Absolutely. I wonder if we could set a little bit of a framework. You mentioned lighting and color. Are there other core elements of design that we really need to be thinking about as we put our space together?

Cheryl: Yeah. So we’re going to talk about specifically the testing psychologist’s office. Who’s a psychologist? Let’s talk about what happens in the space.

So what happens in this space is the client comes in and the client might be a younger person who needs to take a test. And they might sit at a desk to take that in a certain place with a computer, and then their parents usually come or their family members. Am I missing anything?

Dr. Sharp: No, that’s petty good. You nailed it.

Cheryl: Okay. So let’s talk about that. We now have an understanding. The first piece is understanding who your clients or patients are. Who are they? How old are they? And then looking at that and establishing what are their needs?

Let’s imagine now what happens when they come into the space. That’s a great place to start because let’s talk about first impressions. We do know that within the first 15 seconds of someone meeting somebody else, there’s an impression that’s made from the brain. I like this person. I don’t like this person. And it happens unconsciously. And the same thing happens when we will walk into a space. And then we make that association with the person in the space.

Like nobody thinks of the DMV as a comforting place. Everybody just cringes when we have to go in there. So that’s a great example that everybody can understand. So let’s go back to the testing psychologist’s office.

So first impressions, what do your patients and their family see when they first walk in? Do they see a box of… Do they see a trash can? Do they see a box of clutter somewhere that’s just been stacked up or do they see a sofa? Do they see an art piece- a simple art piece on the wall that sends their brain a signal that they’re in the right place that they can feel comfortable here immediately?

So the first thing to write down is that, first impressions. What do my clients see when they first walk into the space? Now, this may seem like common sense, but a lot of people out there just are so busy. And especially now with all the new CDC requirements and you have to have your [00:16:00] space at social distancing, and that makes it more stressful for everybody. So on and so forth.

So not everybody knows this. Think about this. So think about this and look at what they see when they first walk in. So I’d say typically people now walk into a waiting room, is that right? In a testing psychologist, there’s some kind of a waiting room. It might be small. It might be medium.

And so, you want to think, okay, how many… well, now you need to think about social distancing, …how many people are in here during my busiest time. So it might be 3. Let’s just give an example of 3 kids with their parents. And maybe there are 2 different testing psychologists there. Everybody waits in the community area and in the waiting room.

Okay, well, what is their experience like? So [00:17:00] let’s talk a little bit about space planning in that waiting room. One of the things that had been coming into fashion in private practices that is actually really good for social distancing now is to not just have a sofa and chairs in your waiting room but to actually have a High Top cafe table there because young kids like it, millennials like it, and sometimes parents like it because if their kids are smaller, there may be another area where the smaller kids go to play or color or do something. And then the parents can sit at the cafe table and they can do what they need to do, and of course, you have wifi and all that stuff.

So, thinking about different areas to do that with. And within that, I’m just going to interject that [00:18:00] one really key piece, you can put a little asterisk next to it, is to blend those shapes when you’re decorating your waiting room and your entire office. What I mean by that is don’t just have all square and rectal linear side tables and coffee tables. There’s a lot of research that shows that the brain doesn’t like that. It makes somebody feel anxious and uncomfortable.

And so, if you add curved shapes, which is very simple and easy to do, round side tables, round coffee tables, a round chair, anything that has a curve in it, people love that. For example, I’ve had clients in the past that said, Cheryl, all I did was replace the coffee table with a round table and suddenly, my clients are noticing things in the waiting room they haven’t noticed before. And [00:19:00] so it makes a lot of sense.

There’s that saying from the 60s or50s, don’t be a square. We’ve heard that on shows like Ozzie and Harriet don’t be a square. So there’s actually research that shows that the brain doesn’t like that. Our nervous systems do not like spaces. And all I have to do is think of nature. Think of all the different shapes.

So, thinking about that your space planning, maybe add High top table maybe, and then 2 chairs. Now with the pandemic, I think maybe not even having sofas might be important because it’s important to get materials that are cleanable. And I know that many testing psychologists are on a shoestring budget. So, there are lots of ways that you can work with this.

So the patient comes in. [00:20:00] The first thing they see is something beautiful. It might be a plant. It might be a piece of artwork or it might even be a hospitality table. That’s one thing that patients, especially parents really love and feel a lot of gratitude for. If you have a hospitality table, I don’t know what the CDC requirements are on this, but let’s just talk pre-COVID, and then maybe you can adjust it. If you have a hospitality table, which is simply a table, like a buffet or small table water or tea on it, and it’s sort of like a self-service station. And for kids, you can have these silicone cups that don’t drop.

That one small act of generosity will return to you in dividends because there is this thing that happens where people feel really grateful about that. They feel like you care [00:21:00] about them. They can relax. And then they’re going to feel more comfortable with you by the time they’re seeing you. This is especially important for first-time clients. So that might be across from… that might be a first impression thing. So it depends where the door is and all that stuff. Does that make sense?

Dr. Sharp: It does. I have two questions about that. One of them is, for those of us who may have an administrative assistant or an admin desk of some sort, how does that play into a waiting room space? Do you have thoughts on where you might place that individual or that desk?

Cheryl: Yes. So it depends. Everybody has a different preference. If you want to be seen as… I’m trying to think of the right word, …if you want to be seen as more formal, [00:22:00] more professional because you feel like you need to garner respect, you feel like you’re not, that’s something that’s important to you for whatever reason, then you would probably want to have that across from the door.

When somebody walks in, they see that. They see someone sitting there. You want to have at least 6 feet between that front door. Otherwise, it just gets too off-putting like, ah, hello, you know, face. And so, it’s a different vibe when you walk into that. So that’s the first impression. And then next you see the little waiting area where you can relax. And it really depends on your setup. That’s a [00:23:00] choice. And then, if that were the only choice, then behind that the admin person or the reception person, it would definitely want to have a sign of your business.

Some of the research they’ve done around people not knowing where they are, even if there’s not even if they know that the address was right, but they come in and they don’t see a sign of the business, it provokes anxiety. So, I’m just wanting to be really clear on that. And that goes for wherever your desk is, but that’s a nice addition. And then maybe having a plant on the desk or a water feature or something that softens that hardness of walking into a desk, walking to the person.

And of course, you want that person, of course, to be really friendly and all that. And if they’re not on top of [00:24:00] it being opposite the door, then that’s not going to be the greatest experience. But I know that everybody thinks they know that, but in a lot of situations, receptionists and people are not present in there, and they’re busy or stressed out.

Now, the other thing you can do is to have it off to the side, the desk. That way, when someone walks in, all they have to do is turn their head and see that they’re in the right place. And instead, when they walk in, they’re greeted with maybe it’s an arrangement of furniture, maybe it’s the high-top table with a beautiful hanging lamp, that’s super cheap and affordable that you can get hanging over it. And you don’t have like a million lights bulbs in the ceiling.

A lot of people have, we can talk about that later, lights, but a lot of people have those soundproofing tiles in the ceiling, and then they have these [00:25:00] fluorescent lights feel not good. Everybody knows that. That’s common sense. So those are the different options. And it really depends on how your space is laid out.

Dr. Sharp: Sure. And what about for those of us, I’m just going to keep on this waiting area trend, those of us who don’t have an admin, and it’s just an “empty waiting area?” What are ways that we can help folks feel comfortable and welcome and know they’re in the right place and know what to do once they walk in?

Cheryl: You definitely want to have a beautiful color on the wall. And we’ll get into colors later. I just want to say one thing about colors. You definitely want to blend a mix of warms and cools. A lot of times you’ll see yellow walls with brown furniture and a warm-colored rug, and that provokes anxiety and makes people feel hot. When you go in the sun, it’s imagined being in the sun all day without any shade. So you [00:26:00] definitely want that.

I don’t know. It really depends on the space. If you don’t have a person out there and just have a hallway and people are listening to see who comes in the door, maybe there’s some kind of a bell that goes off, I would have a really beautiful waiting area with 2 seats with arms and upholster a chair, make sure they’re comfortable, make sure they’re spaced out and then design it as we were talking about with the circular or the oval or curved items, and then have a hospitality table and have a sign.

Have a sign opposite the door. Maybe it’s over the chairs that are opposite the front door. And it says your name. And so people know that they’re there. I mean, it just takes that little thing and then some nice lighting. And then you come out just in a few moments you hear [00:27:00] them.  Or there might be a sign, I’ll be right with you and maybe some further instruction. 

Dr. Sharp: I like that.

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[00:28:00] So, you started to talk about color. I don’t want to jump the gun too much here. Let’s keep that in mind. I want to ask about colors for sure. I have a lot of questions about that, but I also want to walk through things in order. So, we’ve got our waiting area and you are talking about what people see first, right? This is all first impression. So then where do we go from there in terms of, what are we mindful of in our design?

Cheryl: Well, a good thing to do is walk through the space as if you were the patient. A lot of my clients actually do this. Regardless of their practice, they and their team will actually do that. And you can actually learn a lot.

So notice things. Walk-in yourself, see where you would sit, notice what you would look at. You [00:29:00] might be looking at a wall. You might be looking at a window. If you’re looking at a window, what are you looking at? Really treat this as an experiential process. It just takes curiosity. It doesn’t take any money. It just takes some curiosity and time and consideration to think about these things.

We talked a little bit about space planning. So, now someone is there and they either are greeted by a receptionist that checks them in and says, go wait in the waiting room.

Gives them a mask, checks their temperature, whatever. And then, even if you can have a self-service hospitality table, I highly recommend that you offer people something in that way. So maybe you just have to serve that or your receptionist can serve it.

Now let’s say, I don’t know, give me an example of a client. So, [00:30:00] it’s a single mom with the kid or 2 parents?

Dr. Sharp: Yeah, sure. Let’s go with that. Usually, for us, one parent comes in and brings their child for the testing appointment. 

Cheryl: And how old is the child?

Dr. Sharp: Let’s just say, 9 years old.

Cheryl: Okay, perfect. So one parent comes in with a 9-year-old, let’s just say a boy. Now, if there’s a lot a longer wait time, what can the boy be doing? Is there anything that the boy can be doing or does the boy just usually have an iPad or some kind of technology? In that case, you don’t really need to provide anything.

One of the things that you can provide, which I highly recommend are calming coloring books. Coloring books are known to calm the nervous system. And there are specific ones that are out there and they’re on Amazon. And all you have to do is [00:31:00] put those out. And these coloring books are really calming for the parent and the child.

So why don’t you just get a bunch of different coloring books and you can get some kind of cleaning, clean the different pens, or whatever you need to do to keep it safe from COVID.

They have that. Now, what are they looking at? They might be looking at a wall so we can talk about artwork. So, before you get into designing the space, take a walk through what your client does when they come in. And then write that down. Maybe it’s in the shape of a Z or maybe they come in and if there are 2 parents, they might sit over here. And if there’s one, they might sit over here. So, what next?

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. Let’s think about the colors and the art and [00:32:00] the lighting that we might…

Cheryl: Okay. Let’s start with lighting because that’s the thing that most testing psychologists, I would say they lease or rent the space they’re in, is that right?

Dr. Sharp: I’d say most. Yeah.

Cheryl: And most offices in the United States anyway tend to have bad lighting. And what I say by bad lighting is they have these fluorescent lights that provide a glare. And there’s lots of research that those kinds of lights are headache-inducing. They’re tiring. They make you tired. They’re just overall unpleasant. We all know that.

So let’s say there’s a testing psychologist who works with a total shoestring budget. You cannot replace these lights. Your landlord has said, no, you’ve asked. So what you do is you just keep them off. We’re talking specifically about the waiting room, okay? Keep them [00:33:00] off. For any reason, you don’t turn them on. And then you get floor lamps, table lamps, and task lighting. And you start to create layers of lighting with Led warm lights. The Led light bulbs are the closest color to incandescence because although incandescent light bulbs are not efficient, their colors are amazing.

So Led has come a long way and they offer now bulbs. There’s a cool blue and a cool white and a warm white. You always want to get the warm white, not the cool blue or the white. So, put those floor lamps behind chairs and corners. Light up those corners.

[00:34:00] And you might have a bookshelf in there. I doubt it now because of COVID, but just light up those areas. And when you’re thinking about furniture colors, if you’re more into modern and contemporary, go with some white light round tables. Try to choose white because white feels really clean and good. And then with the chairs, you can get pretty colors, blues, or greens or oranges, or something fun.

Back to lighting. So you want to have table lamps. You want to have floor lamps. If you can do wall sconces that just plug into the electrical socket, go on Pinterest and look up lighting and have so much fun. It’s so affordable. And you can create the prettiest space. And all of a [00:35:00] sudden that room feels really inviting and comforting, and it has that element of being at home, but it’s more professional and people can feel comfortable there.

So that is my recommendation to turn off those lights if you can’t replace them. If you can replace them, get warm Led lights overhead. And if you can, when you get your cafe table, which is higher up, if you can, hang a little chandelier over it to really make that a cute adorable fun space. And those are also super affordable. Lighting these days you can get, even at IKEA is just really affordable.

So that’s lighting in the waiting room. You want to have different levels. As far as wattage, I would do 60-watt bulbs are good, [00:36:00] 75-watt bulbs. I mean the equivalent in Led.

We haven’t talked about the flooring. Even when you have a horrible rug that your landlord will never replace because they’re too cheap, you can get your own rugs, very low pile rugs that are not tripping hazards. And you can create that vignette area. All these things can be cleanable.

For the chairs, for example, you can get 4. I wouldn’t do leather ever because leather damages when you try to clean it. I would get faux leather, which is vegan leather, or there are lots of other products out. There’s lots of other stuff. You just need to look online. When you think about chairs, you think about arms versus no arms. You want to do arms. People sit longer and chairs with arms because they can rest [00:37:00] their arms. That makes sense, right?

Dr. Sharp: That makes sense. Yes.

Cheryl: They’re not transitional chairs which is what chairs with no arms are called. So, that’s the lighting. You want to think about that as you extend it into your hallways. So if you just have the fluorescent lighting in your hallways, maybe you can put some wall sconces there and keep those off. You want to extend that into your testing rooms as well. For the actual testing desk, you want to get a task light or something, and Led task light, which is just a desk light. And that’s really focused light.

Now, what else? Where can we go from here that would make sense?

Dr. Sharp: Let’s see. I’m still stuck on the waiting area. So let’s talk about colors. You mentioned, don’t do yellow walls with brown furniture. Is the research around [00:38:00] colors that are more common?

Cheryl: It’s a little more subjective when it comes to hardcore research. I can tell you what I found and what some of the research shares.

I never recommend yellow on walls cause there’s enough research and enough anecdotal stories out there, and my own research has shown me that yellow is an agitating color. So I would use yellows in pillows. And maybe a yellow piece of furniture. I wouldn’t use yellow on all the walls. I would definitely not do that.

I would do a very soft if you… it depends on what you like too because it’s very subjective. A psychologist might be more attracted to greens or blues, which there are some beautiful greens and blues out there. And blue is a trusting color. That’s why they use it a lot on the internet. [00:39:00] People who want to invoke trust and they’re giving a lecture or something or a presentation, they’ll wear a blue shirt.

Don’t ever paint your walls red or maroon or burgundy or anything like that because those colors are agitating. Those colors are never used in mental health facilities because they exacerbate behave certain behaviors like violence. They can trigger trauma. They can trigger certain things. Orange is a happy color though, but I still wouldn’t put it on every wall.

I never recommend accent walls except for the ceilings. When you do accent walls in small rooms, testing psychologists usually have small spaces, let’s say the waiting room, you want to do the back wall orange and the other walls green or something like that, it chops up the [00:40:00] room. It doesn’t feel whole. You walk in and you’re kind of like, ah, ah, there’s that. Too many distractions.

The idea here is to keep a nice flow. Keep people feeling calm and centered because they’re already stressed. They’ve got their child who’s got a learning disability or may have had one. And there’s already a lot of stress.

This recommendation is you never want to paint an accent wall on the room except for the ceiling. I highly recommend painting ceilings. It’s something that has been a little controversial over many years because when people first hear me say that, a lot of them say, oh my God, no, that would make it too dark in here. Weird.

It’s because of fear and people like this white thing overhead, but even when landlords allow you to paint your… Jeremy, I can [00:41:00] see you have those sound tiles in your ceiling. When they allow you to paint them because they’re really cheap to replace, do it. They only reduce the sound properties by 10%. And there is something so soothing about having a painted ceiling.

Dr. Sharp: Are there any colors you are going for here?

Cheryl:  Yeah. I like to use Benjamin Moore. When there’s a lot of light in the space, let’s say there’s some natural light, big windows, I like to go a little darker on the ceiling. It creates a lot of comfort and ease in the body. I don’t have a lot of research on that. Only anecdotal. Even dental operatories that have been clients of mine who have painted their ceilings, Benjamin Moore’s Tempest is one of my favorites. I don’t know if that’s in their color stories [00:42:00] pallet or not, but it’s definitely a Benjamin Moore color.

It’s kind of like this eggplant gray. It’s so soothing. Gray ceilings are wonderful because gray is a neutral color. Anything that’s really restorative. Nobody really notices, but they feel it. They don’t say, that ceiling is a dark color.

And oftentimes in restaurants, they do that to keep the energy down because there’s a lot of people talking and there’s a lot of energy moving around. You can also do a lighter color. I just don’t recommend white very often. Sometimes, if you go with a lot of darker walls, you want to make a real cozy womb-like space, then I might say, like to do a light gray ceiling or a creamy, really warm light.

[00:43:00] Again, I know some of you listening out there may think that’s absolutely ridiculous. And others of you your light bulb might be going off going, oh, I want to try that. So I tried it a lot with clients and it always comes out well. It’s always a positive response.

Dr. Sharp: I would never think to paint the ceiling. So yeah, really, you got me processing here.

Cheryl: Cool.

Dr. Sharp: I was going to ask you as well, you know, when we’re thinking about colors, it seems like everything now is some version of gray. Gray is really in whether it’s a little cooler or a little warmer, but like everything is gray. What’s your thought on that? Like keeping everything sort of neutral versus putting in pops of color.

Cheryl: So it depends on your style. If you have an apartment therapy kind of a style [00:44:00] or a style that’s more boho and organic and you like white walls or lighter walls and like pops of color and your furniture and pops of color in the artwork, which I love that it’s kind of a more organic feel and you could bring in like plants and things that are made of organic materials like baskets and different things that give like a really nice organic flavor.

I recommend doing the walls… here’s a couple of my favorite colors: French macaroon which is a Benjamin Moore color. And it is really like you want to eat it. It’s off-white but it’s so soothing. And if you want to go light gray, there’s a color called calm by Benjamin Moore, which I really love.

And there’s a little bit of a warmer gray that [00:45:00] can work too called Grandmother’s China or Grandma’s China. French macaroon is definitely one of my favorites. There are a few others. And so you just want to… when you work with gray, gray is fabulous, but you just want to make sure that you don’t do everything gray.

So you want to have artwork that has pops of oranges and blues. And I really like gray walls. I think they’re very, the right kind of gray, comforting, and calming. Benjamin Moore in their color stories palette has so many beautiful grays. And then you just want to bring out colors in your pillows and your rugs and other kinds of things.

So depending on your style, and I really would embrace your style because then you get to express your style. And this is mostly with my female clients [00:46:00] because it just seems like women are more into doing that than men, as a general. Sorry, men out there if I’m offending you, but women just seem more into it. They’re more into taking the initiative. I love this and I love this and then go on with it.

Dr. Sharp: I’m glad you said that. As a male practice owner, I was the one responsible for decorating our space. So I had this question of, when you say, go for your style or listen to your style, what if someone doesn’t know? How do you find your style?

Cheryl: You might have to work with a professional. If interior decorating or decorating is not your thing, you might have to go with the professional. Maybe you have a sister or a cousin or your mom or dad. Maybe you know somebody who can help you if you’re on a shoestring budget and you can’t really afford to [00:47:00] hire somebody.

So you do need to find somebody though because you can’t just like you can’t, I mean, you can but you’re going to probably make mistakes like painting the walls a warm color, and then all your furniture are warm color, and then all these rectilinear shapes. And then you’re like, I spent all this money on this and now nothing’s really changed.

I’m just telling you don’t do it if you don’t know it. If that’s not your thing, ask somebody for help. Hire somebody for help. There are plenty of decorators out there.

Dr. Sharp: Yes, there are.

Cheryl: They’re not all going to understand this patient-centered stuff, but I am also offering, I’m not really taking on new clients, but I am taking on new clients for your listeners.

Dr. Sharp: Oh, great.

Cheryl: I think I sent you an offer. I can’t even [00:48:00] remember what it was now because I offered it a while ago, but it was a discount.

Dr. Sharp: Great. We can dig that up.

Cheryl: You’ll know, but just find somebody to help.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah, I like that. Now, there’ve been times in the past when I have gone to Instagram or pals.com or something like that just to get some inspiration. Is that something that folks might pursue as well? I mean, even just to start.

Cheryl: Yeah, I think Pinterest is the best, even being on Instagram and pals.com and everything, I just think Pinterest is the best.

I think that’s fine. I still think though that you need some kind of desire or you want to do that and it’s fun for you. So I still think that if it’s fun for you and you know who you are, you’re going to be on Pinterest and you’re [00:49:00] probably already are, and you’re saving things and you’ve probably already seen things. And maybe you just need a coach to say, okay, yeah, this piece. Maybe you need somebody to see your ideas and stuff like that.

Again, if you don’t, if this isn’t your thing and your work is your thing, hire it out. Spend the money. It’s worth it. I have seen this over and over again, not just in testing psychologists’ offices, psychologists, and other health care professionals. I have seen businesses increase by like 300% after they changed the design of their space in a very simple, not expensive way. I mean, you do have to spend some money. You do have to spend money. It does cost something. Even if you buy it at IKEA and get the artwork on your own and all that stuff, even if you’re a photographer and do the artwork on your [00:50:00] own, it’s going to cost something. But it’s worth it. 

Dr. Sharp: Yeah, and I like that. I think that’s a nice segue to a couple of financial questions. If someone wanted to hire a designer, how does that work? Is that billed by the hour? Is it built by square footage? How can we expect to pay for something like that?

Cheryl: They’re all kinds. Some people bill by the hour. Some people do it by the square footage. So generally there are firms that do everything for you. This is not what you want unless you want to spend more money. And if you have the budget, I recommend it. And it’s someone good who understands patient-centered design. You want to look at their portfolio, make sure you resonate. And then you’re going to spend some thousands of dollars. And they’re going to do everything for you.

Now, most of you guys who are listening out there I know our DIYs. And so, you can [00:51:00] look online for just decorators in your area. You can send me an email. There’s going to be all information. So I’m here for you. I’m not, not here for you. So I’m here for you. And what I’m offering right now for your listeners are virtual consultations. So we might be in your office and you’re going to show me around and I’m going to walk you through things and give you homework. And there might be a few sessions, or you can just hire me for an hour and things like, I make it very easy.

Now you can also look around. Not all decorators are created equal, but there are thousands of us out there. So, you might know. In that case, you’re just going to be keeping a budget of what costs what. You want to spend more on things you sit on and you can spend less on things that are like lamps and different things like that. [00:52:00] And you can find plenty of beautiful side tables and end tables for super cheap. Wayfair, Overstock, IKEA are some of my favorites. Other cute places are Urban Outfitters, there’s West Elm. There are lots of places.

Dr. Sharp: Great. I’m going to put all of these in the show notes. I get everything Wayfair pretty much when we have to furnish new offices. It’s just so easy to make selections.

Cheryl: Exactly. 

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. Now, you started to get into this, but I want to flesh it out a little bit. When we’re choosing where to spend money in our offices, I talk with a number of my coaching clients and they’re like, do I spend money on the sofa or the art or the lighting, the paint, [00:53:00] all that stuff. Where do we allocate our money? Where do we need to spend more? And where can we get away with not spending as much?

Cheryl: Sure. That’s a great question. So you want to spend more money on what you sit on. So, with COVID and everything, you’re going to have to because you’re going to have to be able to sterilize these things with alcohol and other stuff that the CDC recommends. You don’t want any pathogen living on your sofa or your chairs. So, you’re going to get performance fabric and you’re going to make sure…

You want to spend more on those kinds of things. So the chairs. I’m not really thinking too much about sofas right now because they’re a huge surface area and they’re going to take more to clean, and you’re going to be more worried that there’s going to be [00:54:00] some kind of pathogen living in your sofa, especially if you’re busy and you have lots of families coming through and all that.

So, if family sitting together is important to you, then that might be a consideration. Spend your money on the things you sit on. Just 2 or 3 upholstered chairs that have the kind of fabric that is going to be cleanable and is going to last. You could say that you could get cheaper chairs, you could do this before COVID and they would last two years. And then you could switch them out and get others, but now it’s a little different and I think people or your clients are going to be wondering if your space is cleaned regularly.

So, I would spend more money on the [00:55:00] actual chairs that people sit on with arms and I would spend the least amount of money on artwork because you can free artwork on unsplash.com, high-resolution artwork. And you can get it printed pretty much anywhere on Gatorfoam. If that needs to be clean and sterilized, it depends on what the CDC requirements are. And of course, for a hospital, you have to have everything behind glass so that you can clean it. But if you don’t need that, I recommend getting it on Gator foam, which is very affordable. There are places online you can get them printed and mailed, or you could just go to your local print place and ask them how much they do it for or a framing shop can easily take a file and print it [00:56:00] large for you.

One of my clients, and she’s a testing psychologist in San Francisco, wanted to have some acoustic properties with her artwork. So there’s a place online called Mac Acoustics. And I think they’re on the East Coast in New York, and they’re a great resource. You can send them a picture, a high-resolution file, and they could send you a canvas or something that has acoustical properties in it where echoes might be a consideration. If you’re a photographer, then you can make your own photograph.

So I wanted to talk a little bit about what kind of artwork you should get because there’s a lot of different kinds.

Dr. Sharp: Please, yes.

Cheryl: If you want your clients to feel… And you want to get big pieces because small pieces just don’t have the impact.

Dr. Sharp: Can you define that a little bit? What is big and small? I’m not even sure I know that.

Cheryl: So you want to do like[00:57:00] 36 inches is 3 feet, which is a really good, big size. So at least one of those edges. Now, if you have a smaller wall, you can go smaller, but that’s what I consider that. And even higher. 48 inches would be just phenomenal.

A lot of these images on unsplash.com are high enough resolution where you can send those to be printed. Now it’s really fun to think about the artwork. It’s kind of a fun thing to do. You can think about… If you want to do something in nature, if you want to do a theme in nature, maybe you flowers, and you can bring on a lot of different colors through that, and that might be really beautiful. So you look up flowers on Unsplash or tulips or roses or whatever, and maybe you have some of those around, or maybe you do ocean settings, or maybe you like the forest. So think about where you live.

If you live in Portland, Oregon, you might want to do [00:58:00] forest images in your waiting room because that makes people feel comfortable. And not only because of the forest itself and the properties, but because they feel a sense of belonging. There’s a community there.

If you have your testing psychologist office in Manhattan, then you might have pictures of Manhattan on the walls or some central park, for example. And that will make people feel really comfortable. I’m in the right place. The brain says I’m in the right place. This is my people. There’s a connection here versus like, if you had pictures of Hawaii all over the place and you live in Texas, maybe you want to do that because everybody in your neighborhood or in your area goes to Hawaii on their vacations. So you want to bring that in. And then people are like, oh, I remember Hawaii. And they have that beautiful feeling.

Now, [00:59:00] sometimes it’s really fun to bring your personality into your artwork. You might have a hobby of some sort. And if you put that on the wall, you don’t want it to be a negative image, but if it’s positive, I don’t know if you have some kind of a hobby like you collect baskets. And so you, you want to put up baskets on the walls because that’s so cute and organic, and then it creates a conversation piece, right? When people come in, they go, oh my God, I love those baskets. Or maybe you’ve made them, or maybe you’re a fiber artist like I am, and I make big fiber wall art. That’s a little bit harder to clean, but the world is your oyster. You can do that.

I just wanted to give you some guidelines so that you can think about all that. Again, large pieces. Don’t be [01:00:00] afraid of large pieces. You don’t have to be framed and expensive. You can ask a friend to take photographs of your town or your favorite place. Or you can get them on Unsplash. It just takes some leg work, but you DIYs out there are used to that. It’s so worth it. And so having, for example, a hospitality table, and then over the hospitality table, having a beautiful piece and then having a lamp on top of the hospitality table. So it lights everything up.

That’s where I would not spend the most. I would not invest in expensive artwork because there’s just so much available for free and for low cost and you can do it yourself. You can’t make really good furniture. It’s the same with rugs and things like that. You can get them on Urban Outfitters or wherever, Overstock, Wayfair has plenty of places, low pile [01:01:00] rugs. What else? What have I not talked about? Color? No, we talked about color.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah, we covered some color. So people always love the what not to do kind of things. Are there any what not to do that we haven’t already talked about in terms of art or color or furniture or space, just mistakes that you see?

Cheryl: Yeah. So again, don’t paint your walls yellow. Some of you may want to, and you can blend it in another way, but it’s not my recommendation is all I want to say. Don’t paint your walls stark white because it feels cold. Don’t have too many squares and rectangular shapes in your office at all. [01:02:00] Don’t buy furniture from Goodwill if you can help it. I know you may want to. I know you may have some good finds out there, but it has old energy. It feels kind of drab for the most part because someone’s lived with that and it’s just not good for public spaces. Maybe for you personally for your home. That’s different.

Don’t use compact fluorescent light bulbs because they are not good for your health, and they create a glow that is not healthy. It doesn’t feel good. So stick with Led lights that are warm or incandescent sometimes. So they’ve got halogen and flood LEDs have got a bunch of different stuff.

[01:03:00] For the space where your patients are actually taking a test, don’t put them with their back to the door. Don’t make it so their back is to the door. That has been tested and there’s research on that, that shows that people become nervous when they can’t see the door.

Dr. Sharp: Okay. Those are very good practical suggestions.

Cheryl: Don’t do that. You can have them facing a wall, but do it in such a way that their back is not to the door if that’s a space saver. If you can, make it so they have a wall behind them and they’re catty-corner to the door. They feel empowered. They feel confident.

Dr. Sharp: Being able to see the door is important.

Cheryl: It’s important. And where they take the test, try [01:04:00] not to put the desk opposite the door of the office where they’re taking the test, the room. It doesn’t feel good. And if you have to do that, put a plant or something on the desk to protect that feeling. And so they can feel better. That’s not a mistake I really often see. What else?

Dr. Sharp: These are great. Can I ask a random question?

Cheryl: Sure.

Dr. Sharp: How often do you recommend people update their furniture and decorations?

Cheryl: So paint is important and that’s classic. That’ll last you just years if you choose the right colors. If you don’t choose the right colors, then you’re in trouble. If you choose the right colors and the right lighting, it should last years.

Of course, the furniture, if you buy a [01:05:00] chair at IKEA, don’t expect it to last that long especially when you’re using harsh chemicals to keep COVID-19 off of it. So it depends if you want to spend more money on furniture. A lot of people get freaked out when they think about spending even $500 on a chair when a good commercial chair probably would be around $1500.

Dr. Sharp: Oh my Goodness. Yeah.

Cheryl: The one that would last you like 20 years, but you could find cheaper ones, you could find them, you can find them with faux leather and comfortable and things that you can… It’s going to take some research, but you can do it.

If you get classic white round tables from Ikea and stuff like that, those should last. Those are made out of steel. Those should be pretty good. The high chairs for [01:06:00] the cafe table, or the bistro table, those should last. It depends. You get what you pay for, right? 

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. What if we think of it in addition to the durability just from a decorating standpoint? I don’t know if there’s a way to quantify that, but how often should we be just freshening our look?

Cheryl: If you’re into contemporary and modern and organic, that style has been around for a while. I might replace out the art every so often because it’s pretty affordable. You can do that. I always recommend bringing in plants if you can do that. You might replace those plants. Always clean. They [01:07:00] always make people feel good. So I might move those around.

I had a dental client. He was an artist also. His hobby was bonsai tree plants. And so he literally had them in his garage at home and he loved them. And those are very fussy. And you have to take care of them and spend time. He would bring them into his office and just rotate those. And they created a wonderful conversation piece. He talked about them in his newsletters, so it was part of his marketing piece.

And then, because he was an artist and his office is in McMinnville, Oregon where they have this alien UFO conference every year, and everybody loves that. That’s what they’re known for. He’ll paint some art with aliens in them in UFO’s and I’ll put them in his office and that’ll just be for during the time.

[01:08:00]Also think about holidays. Think about Thanksgiving. Maybe you’re going to have a gratitude wall. Everybody can write what they’re grateful for and you can hang it up on the wall or. Or at Christmas, you might want to bring in different kinds of decorations for that, and really bring in little lights and bring in things that make you happy.

If you live in a place in the United States where traditional is more your thing, then you want to get traditional furniture. You want to get traditional stuff. And you may want to have more things. My style is more California, more West Coast, more Southwest, kind of more minimal, cleaner, but you can do whatever.

You’ll feel it. You’ll feel when the space is like, yeah. You may even move your practice. I’ve seen this happen many times. You fix up your space and then [01:09:00] you in the next year or two, you grow and then you suddenly need to get a bigger space.

Dr. Sharp: That makes sense.

Cheryl: Yeah. I wanted to just talk a little bit about draperies on windows. It goes on the what not to column. Sometimes those offices come with these horizontal metal blinds. Do you know what I’m talking about, Jeremy?

Dr. Sharp: Oh, yes.

Cheryl:  Don’t use those. If you can’t take them down, pull them up and get some affordable, either draperies or shades. Shades are quite affordable these days and you might have to get some that are anti-microbial. Again, it depends on CDC requirements. I bet they’re not as harsh as someone who doesn’t see that many people as a hospital, let’s say for example, or a health doctor’s office. 

Dr. Sharp: Great. Is there [01:10:00] anything out there as far as culturally responsive decorating?

Cheryl: Yes.

Dr. Sharp: Could we touch on that before we wrap up?

Cheryl: A great time to consider those things. Ask yourself the question, how am I honoring other cultures? How am I honoring different age groups? And how am I honoring different gender associations? Is there something there that can make people feel more comfortable and at home?

As a therapist, you are talking to people about certain issues. As a testing psychologist, it’s specific and you definitely want to look at your patients and staff, and maybe you can open up to different cultures and be a teacher in that way.

Dr. Sharp: Right. Well, this is this has been a great conversation. I am [01:11:00] thinking so much about our space and I imagine others are as well. So I am just really grateful that you were willing to come on to talk through some of these things.

Cheryl: It’s been fun.

Dr. Sharp: Good. And I’ll put all of the resources that we talked about in the show notes. Again, if people wanted to reach out and get in touch with you, what’s the best way to do that?

Cheryl: Send me an email. I’ve written 2 books on design and those are still available on my website cheryljanisdesigns.com. And if you want to send me an email, that’s, what’s going to have to happen for me to honor this agreement and work with you, which I’m super happy and joyful to do. I would love to help you. And I’m very affordable for this in this case. So look in the show notes for the offer that I’m [01:12:00] offering to you and send me an email. And that email is cheryl@cherylrjanis.com. But that will also be in the show notes.

And I wish you all out there to have fun and to enjoy this process and to understand that it’s so important to not only your health and your wellbeing and your financial practice but to that of your patients and clients. They will love you for this. I promise

Dr. Sharp: Well said. I think that’s a nice note to wrap on. So thanks again, Cheryl. It’s great to talk to you.

Cheryl: You’re welcome.

Dr. Sharp: Okay, y’all, thank you so much for tuning into my episode with Cheryl. There are a ton of links in the show notes of resources that she mentioned. And in her bio, she lists all of the resources that she has available, her podcasts, her books, and the email address- the best means to contact her if you wanted to do a [01:13:00] consultation with her. And again, she is giving a discount for any testing psychologist listeners who want to do a virtual office consult. So certainly check that out.

I will say that now every time I walk into our office space, all I can think about are the things that we could do differently based on Cheryl’s advice.

Okay, y’all. If you have not subscribed to or rated the podcast, I would love for you to do that. It’s super easy. In iTunes, you can just scroll down and tap on the star rating that you would like to give in the podcast app. It takes about five seconds and subscribing is easy as well.

I’ve been having a good time with these episodes lately. There is plenty of great content coming up. So stay tuned. Hit that Subscribe button. Make sure you don’t miss any episodes.

All right, take care y’all. Until next time.

The information contained in this podcast and on The Testing Psychologist website is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in this podcast or on the website is intended to be a substitute for professional, psychological, psychiatric, or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Please note that no doctor-patient relationship is formed here. And similarly, no supervisory or consultative relationship is formed between the host or guests of this podcast and listeners of this podcast. If you need the qualified advice of any mental health practitioner or medical provider, please seek one in your area. Similarly, if you [01:15:00] need supervision on clinical matters, please find a supervisor with expertise that fits your needs.

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