Office Environment

6 Low-Cost Design Tips to Make Your Office Distinctive

By Maria Higgins, OD

Oct. 25, 2017

Your practice’s success depends on more than your competency as a doctor, and the skill of your staff. It also depends on how pleasant patients find the experience of spending time in your office. Fortunately, there are low-cost ways to make your office more eye-appealing, and comfortable, for patients. Here are six that did the trick for me at my former practice, Unique Optique, in Frederick, Md.

Dr. Higgins poses in front of the wavy mirrors she added to her former practice, Unique Optique. Dr. Higgins says the mirrors gave her office an individualistic look, and allowed patients to get a full view of themselves in their potential new frames.

Long, Wavy Mirrors

Where do you find it? Ikea or  Wayfair, an online home goods store, or another similar retailer.

Cost? $40 each.

What’s the benefit? Long, wavy mirrors give a unique air to an optical and serve a practical purpose. They give patients a full-length view of their eyewear. We found that it was helpful for patients to see their whole body with their glasses on, to see how the glasses would complement their overall style.

A creative display on the shelves in Dr. Higgins former practice. Glass shelves offer a simple backdrop to frames and creative displays.

Glass Shelves

Where do you find it?  Ikea, or Wayfair , or a similar retailer.

Cost? $40 each

What’s the benefit? It was a minimalist way to display frames. Rather than being overwhelmed by elaborate shelving, simple shelving like this encourages patients to explore and try on frames. The simplicity gives the display a more manageable feel.

Glass shelves fade into the background, and let the frames take center stage. The simple look also is amenable to decorative displays like the one pictured in the photo on the left.

Decorative Gift Bags

Where do you find it? Target or the Hallmark store, another similar retailer.

Cost? $2 each

What’s the benefit: It looks more polished to give a thank-you gift, or gift at a trunk show, in a gift bag than it does to present it in a generic plastic bag.

Gift bags used to create a window display for Valentine’s Day at Dr. Higgins’ former practice, Unique Optique. Dr. Higgins says the bags, at as little as $2 each, are handy to keep in the office.

The gift bags also can be used in decorative displays, as we did for our My Bloody Valentine window display (pictured on left).

Photo Booth

Where do you find it? I bought it from Kingdom Photobooth. First I rented it for six months, then I bought it.

Cost? $9,000 to buy or $300 per month to rent.

Benefit? Patients loved seeing different glasses on their faces, and then being able to take an old-fashioned photo with it. They could also take photos home to show friends and family.

It added a funky feel to the decor of the office, giving patients yet another unique feature about our office to remember us by.

Reclaimed Barn Doors

Where do you find it? Estate sales, reclaimed construction stores. My brother-in-law owns a construction business, and had three barn doors that were reclaimed from a library of a mansion.

Cost?: Free in some cases, like my own, or at a low cost if being disposed of by the former owner, or a construction site.

What’s the benefit? I hung the doors with sliding hardware, and used them as the doors for my exam rooms.

It gave my office a creative, or industrial feel, which went well with our fashion-forward vibe.

The barn doors pictured in this photo gave Dr. Higgins’ office a unique look. After all, how many doctors’ offices have doors like this opening into exam rooms? Decor touches like this created a memorable experience for patients.

Outdoor table and chairs

Where do you find it? Home Depot, or used via Craigslist, Facebook, a yard sale, or someone local selling it.

Cost? $200

What’s the benefit? Gave patients another option for waiting. Husbands would often sit out there. More so, I would sit out there when I had a break and eat lunch or sun myself or people watch.

It also helped as a marketing tool as when I was sitting out there, tons of people would stop and ask me about our creative window displays, or mention that they happen to be looking for a new eye doctor.





Table and chairs outside Unique Optique, Dr. Higgins’ former practice. Dr. Higgins says the table and chairs outside gave patients, and their families, an additional comfortable way to spend time with the practice.














Maria Higgins, OD, owns The Unique Technique, a business and marketing consultancy. She formerly owned The Unique Optique in Frederick, Md. To contact her:








Dr. Higgins says she tried to create a colorful, “funky” atmosphere that emphasized fun and individuality, and fashion-forward eyewear. She notes that her patients often were asked where they got their unique eyewear, and they happily directed their friends and family to Unique Optique.

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