How to design a front office reception area

Written by daisy mccarty
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How to design a front office reception area
Reception Desk (Image courtesy of Flickr user benpinbowling under a cc license

The reception area of your front office determines the first impression your business makes on clients, vendors and visitors. Carefully craft this area to be functional, professional and stylish. Various design elements such as colour, materials, layout and branding can make a statement about the values of your company. Ensure that your reception area sends the right message by taking the time to thoroughly plan each detail of this important aspect of your office space.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Material samples (paint, wallpaper, fabric, wood veneer, blinds, flooring)
  • Blueprint of office reception space (to scale)
  • Measuring tape
  • Furniture catalogues

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  1. 1

    Determine the overall look and feel you want to display in your reception area. Ideally, the style should cater to the tastes of the clientele who will be frequenting this space and represent the “look” of your company at the same time. This could be sleek, creative, cosy or imposing.

  2. 2

    Select your colour scheme. Light neutrals and earth tones are versatile and blend well with a wide variety of furnishing options. These colour themes are good choices for carpeting, wall coverings and window treatments. Alternately, you can choose to focus on materials such as glass, chrome, acrylic and tile for a more modern appearance. Decide whether or not your current lighting fixtures need to be upgraded for a better effect.

  3. 3

    Make the reception desk the centrepiece of the lobby. Its style, shape and size will determine many of your other decor choices. Look for originality and an eye-catching design to make a statement. Face the desk toward the entry door for an atmosphere of friendly, immediate greeting. Orient it at an angle to the door if you want a more formal setting.

  4. 4

    Choose the materials for all your main furnishings at the same time so you can achieve a cohesive look. Comfort, durability and visual appeal are all important factors for reception furniture. Invest in stain- and wear-resistant fabric covered seating if you can’t afford leather. Opt for wood laminate rather than steel if you need a filing credenza in the reception area--it has a warmer appeal.

  5. 5

    Calculate the number of chairs you will need to seat your clients and visitors on a busy day. Add one or two small tables so you can arrange the chairs in clusters around them if you have room. Locate the specifications for each item of furniture and check them against the measurements on your blueprint. Make sure there will be room left for the flow of traffic--especially around the reception desk.

  6. 6

    Plan in advance how you will minimise visible clutter. For example, use low shelving under the reception desk to house office equipment and other necessary items. Add a rack for coats and a stand for umbrellas. Place a waste receptacle discretely by the door.

  7. 7

    Add finishing touches to complete your reception area design. Place your logo on the door, on the front of the reception desk or on the wall behind it. Keep art displays tasteful and elegant--save the motivational posters for work areas. Only use plants as decorations if they are hardy and will maintain a fresh and vital appearance over time.

Tips and warnings

  • If your reception area opens directly to the outdoors, locate the desk where it won’t be hit by drafts of cold air in the winter.
  • Choose flooring with a skid-resistant surface for the lobby. Water is often tracked in and can create a fall hazard.

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