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What can I do with $1,000 to spruce up my veterinary clinic?
Got some extra cash at the end of the year? Put it to good use with tips from these veterinary hospital design experts.
Heather LewisHeather Lewis, AIA, NCARB, of Animal Arts in Boulder, Colorado, offers these tips:
> A new paint job can do wonders. Use light neutral colors, but not white, which is generally too stark. Consider painting dark woodwork and doors to lighten and modernize the look.
> When signage looks dated, it brings down your entire image. A new sign with modern colors can make a big difference and attract new clients.
A new sign, like this one at Woodhaven Veterinary Clinic in Edmonds, Washington, can do a lot to boost your hospital image and even attract new clients. (Photo courtesy of Animal Arts.)> If you have square, clipped, urine-soaked hedges out front, it's time to ditch them for softer landscape. Look at native grasses and something that blooms. Ask your local garden stores for plant selections that will fit these criteria but still hold up near your front door. Buy your staff pizza on the weekend and plant the new plants yourself.
> Buy new pendant lighting fixtures to install over your reception desk.
> Buy new lobby furnishings from an inexpensive retailer such as IKEA. If they're fun and colorful, they may look much nicer than the worn-out versions you currently have.
> Invest in a professional cleaning-down to the cracks in the woodwork. Then have the floors stripped and waxed.
> This one's free! Go on clutter patrol and get rid of everything you don't need. Clutter weighs on the mind and communicates disarray. A nice, neat hospital will win clients over even if it's not the youngest hospital.
Wayne UsiakWayne Usiak, AIA, of BDA Architecture in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has this input:
> First, walk your property, camera in hand. Photograph your parking lot, front entry, reception area, waiting room and exam rooms. Then study the photos. Make a list of everything worn, broken, messy or out of date. Prioritize what you want to address with your funds.
> Clear weeds and debris outside, cut the grass, trim the hedges and prune the trees. Sweep the parking lot. Does it need new stripes?
> Paint renews and updates old walls, and accent colors give everything a fresh new image.
> Reface the front of your reception desk with laminate or tile to make it look new.
> A new plastic laminate surface on all the counters up front, from reception to exam rooms, can be done within a $1,000 budget. Often the new laminate can be field-installed right over the existing material.
> Change all light bulbs-even if they work. Fluorescent bulbs rarely match in color output as they're replaced over the years, giving off an eerie light. Buy color-corrected natural daylight bulbs to replace the old.
> Look at your doors and door hardware. Do doors and frames need restaining or paint? Replace those old doorknobs with lever sets. Lowe's and Home Depot carry light commercial sets that work fine in a veterinary facility.