by Leatrice Eiseman
From the moment a patient enters a space such as a clinic or offices, they are inundated with a sense of the colors surrounding them. Even though they might not be overtly aware of it, color is the first thing they notice and the final message they take away when leaving the space. Color is a vital conveyor of the emotional expression found in any given environment, so it is especially important to provide an ambiance that expresses a positive atmosphere where patients and staff feel comfortable, reassured, welcome, and in tune with their surroundings.
There are essentially five different classifications of moods that are suggested for a practice or clinic, depending on the overarching theme that is chosen for the space. It is much easier to decorate when a preconceived concept, a definite idea of the desired mood, theme, or message is arrived at. It simplifies the process, enabling a starting reference point that helps to define the area. Above all, color is key to establishing the mood.
The first of the five themes is described as Tranquil. This is a serene, restful, peaceful and quiet mood that evokes thoughts of a placid blue sky and soothing waters. The dominantly cool light- to mid-tones of clear green, aquas, soft blues, pristine white, and dove grays suggest a restorative calming effect. Another facet of this mood is inspired by what the French call “l’heure bleue”—as reflected in twilight when all the world seems to be winding down and an even more quiescent mood is encouraged by the use of dusky blues, misted blue-greens, shaded lavenders, and vaporous grays.
The second mood is referred to as Nurturing. These are the colors that evoke a sense of caring and an escape from anxiety. They are approachable, warm, and welcoming colors that are so tactile in feeling that they transform even rougher textures such as stucco or sturdier wood finishes into a softer look. The dominant colors are variations of light pastels and neutrals such as tender yellow, peach, rose, and creams balanced by subtle blues, sage greens and blue greens, lavender tints, feather gray, and tinted whites.