Tiny makeover: Declutter your veterinary hospital's reception area

March 1, 2018
Kristi Reimer Fender, News Channel Director

Kristi Reimer is editor of dvm360 magazine and news channel director for dvm360.com. Before taking over

Need some inspiration for spring? Crack the windows to let in that beautiful breeze, then grab your paper tiger by the tail.

Storage solutions for the reception area are neglected all too often, says artchitect Ashley Shoults. This hospital incorporated shelving and a backup counter. (All photos courtesy of Ashley Shoults.)In the words of Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, "My basic principle for sorting papers is to throw them all away." OK, so maybe you can't actually do that, but you can take steps to declutter your front desk area for a fresh start for spring. Consider these tips from Ashley Shoults, AIA, of Animal Arts, a veterinary architecture firm in Boulder, Colorado.

1. Get rid of paper. If you can't throw it all away, at least purge the extraneous papers that have been collecting in stacks since 2011. If it's essential to keep certain documents, consider scanning them and storing them in the cloud, Shoults advises.

2. Get things off the counters. "This is a huge part of tidying," Shoults says. Drawers, cabinets, shelving-they're all better for holding stuff than your precious counter space. One fairly simple solultion? Install a pencil drawer at receptionists' knee level so you can do away with the pen and pencil jars cluttering up the workspace.

A mobile storage unit under the desk keeps the surface clear of clutter.3. Find a better home for the printer. Another counter-clearing move is to revamp the cabinetry under the reception desk to make a slide-out shelf for the printer to sit on rather than the countertop. "This will cost a little bit but it won't break the bank and can go a long ways toward decluttering," Shoults says.

A printer on a sliding shelf below the counter and vertical slot storage above.4. Organize client materials. Build some cabinetry that includes horizontal slot dividers for information brochures and client handouts.

Horizontal slot dividers incorporated into below-counter cabinetry.5. Call for backup. Shoults says it's painfully common for veterinary hospitals to neglect to include backup space for the reception desk-usually, they get a wall and that's it. "Buy a storage unit, install shelving or build a backup counter," Shoults says. "That extra storage can help you clean up and store things for easy access."

Cabinetry and a backup counter behind the reception desk.6. Get creative in the waiting area. Shoults says tidying your lobby can be as easy as going to Ikea to find creative storage solutions for magazines and other items. "Find something fun and whimsical that shows your practice's personality and helps you keep organized," she says.

7. Elevate cats in carriers. A waiting area with a bunch of cat carriers on the floor can lead to a perception of clutter, Shoults says. A solution? "Build in cubbies or countertops to set cat carriers on," she says. "This helps cat owners feel special and cats more calm and secure because they're up higher."

8. Get pretty. A fresh coat of paint can do wonders for making your reception area look cleaner, Shoults says-new artwork can help a lot too. "Just make sure there's consistency with the artwork," she says. "Matching frames and a consistent color scheme can impart a clean, fresh feeling."