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A Comprehensive Guide on How to Design a Reception Area



A Comprehensive Guide on How to Design a Reception Area

In its most basic form, a reception area is a section of your office space created to greet all visitors and provide a waiting area for them until they meet the person they came to meet with. It is the first area employees, clients, and potential prospects see when they walk into an office. You can also say that the reception area acts as the initial professional point of contact.

We have all heard the expression “first impressions count,” and it certainly applies to office spaces as well. After all, a good first impression creates a great lasting impression, isn’t it? That is why many offices invest a reasonable amount of time and effort into creating a well-presented reception area.

From meeting new clients to interviewing prospective employees, maintaining the right balance between interior design and furniture alignment in the reception area can make all the difference in creating new- as well as maintaining existing- business relationships.

Consider this, no matter how great your company is or how familiar the customers are with your brand, if the front of your business looks scruffy, then it is bound to put potential clients off. Thus, when designing a reception, you’d want to make sure it will cater to the needs of your company, as well as the values of your brand. Therefore, you should aim to create an elegant, beautiful and comfortable space that accurately embodies your company’s tone when it comes to receptions.

The Elements of a Welcoming Reception Area

Having a clear picture of what you want it to look like helps. Are you aiming for a modern, minimalist look or a more traditional and sophisticated ambience? Check everything down to the details, as you can see in stores like Freedman’s Office Furniture.

Here’s a breakdown of all the elements you need to cover to create the ideal reception area:

The Right Size

The size of the reception area tends to be in direct proportion to both the type and size of your business. For instance, If you have a large business with many employees, then the reception area can reflect that through its size.

Likewise, if you have a relatively small business with not many employees, your reception area can also be relatively small. Take the reception halls at Google’s office, for example. Large companies tend to generally have relatively large reception areas styled according to their business brand.

The sophistication and the associated cost of building a stylish reception area versus a basic one will also largely depend on how the business runs. Again, taking Google’s reception area as an example- you can clearly decipher that Google is a large business that can afford expensive, building cosmetics and furniture styles. Compare that to other reception areas in relatively smaller businesses, like your local dentist’s office, for instance.

Nevertheless, most reception areas have several furnishings and components in common, such as:

  • Appropriate receptionist desk/station
  • A comfortable and ergonomically appropriate receptionist chair
  • Waiting chairs for guests
  • A reception desk
  • Visitor tables

The reception area’s layout is also especially important as it reflects how the rest of the company is set up. The key is to have an easy layout that visitors won’t have trouble navigating in. You can create a natural flow depending on how much space you have to work with, leading visitors from the elevator or door to the front desk and subsequently to the seating area without any obstacles on the way.

Correct Seating Arrangements

While designing a comfortable reception area, take a step back and view your waiting area from an outsider’s perspective. Better yet, you can even ask a friend to visit. Ask these questions:

  • Are the chairs comfortable? A little bit of soft cushion goes a long way when a client is waiting.
  • Are there enough chairs? It is always best to plan for more than what may be needed to ensure a guest is never left standing.
  • Are there chairs available for clients of all sizes? You can consider adding chairs with no arms to give everyone equal comfort.
  • Are the fabrics for your seat clean and/or easy to clean? There is nothing less professional than big stains; it makes the area look bedraggled. For this, vinyl or tight-weave fabrics can save the day.

Homely Reception Area

Your reception desk is the focal point of your company’s waiting area. For best results, the desk should give your staff enough space to do their job efficiently while also keeping clutter under wraps and out of sight.

Things to consider when choosing a reception desk:

  • If your receptionist needs to conduct private phone calls frequently, a floor-to-ceiling glass divider can keep conversations confidential, while a half-height divider around the desk allows for privacy, albeit limited. It also keeps the space more open and inviting.
  • If your receptionist needs to use a copier, filing cabinet, or other office supplies regularly, organizing the equipment near the reception space will ensure that your staff is never too far away to miss someone’s arrival.

The Right Colours

Take a moment to think about how different colours affect you. Bold reds, fiery oranges, and blinding yellows may feel agitating in a small closed space. What would a wild purple or hot pink communicate? What about soft pastel blues? A muted smoky grey?

Remember- the reception isn’t about your personal favorites, but more about reflecting trust and professionalism towards your clients and customers. You can try choosing softer, more neutral colours and inject some personality through wall art, elegant pillows, or rich rugs.

Bright Lighting

If you are fortunate enough to have a reception area with streams of natural light flowing in, you can definitely capitalize on it! It is best to keep shades or remote control roller blinds to a minimum. If you are in a darker space, you should consider choosing soft lighting from table lamps or wall fixtures. For the most part, overhead fluorescent bulbs can feel sterile and unwelcoming. Instead, why not try LED lighting for a more natural feel? Overall, be sure there is plenty of light in your space for it to feel warm, clean and for your waiting clients to be able to read and feel relaxed easily.

Suitable Accessories

Have a walk through your space. While doing so, consider small touches that can add comfort. For instance, adding a coat rack or preparing a space to hang jackets or wet umbrellas can make a huge difference. Ensure that there are enough surfaces, such as end tables or coffee tables, for your clients to set down beverages, project folders, or even handbags.

You can also keep up the welcoming atmosphere with bottled water, a bowl of mints, fresh tissues, and fresh reading materials. Also, use air fresheners or fresh flowers sparingly as they might cause allergic reactions from guests. Finally, for an added je ne sais quoi, you can also frame a handful of awards or media clippings about your work and hang them in the reception area for your clients to read or see.

Astute Technology

Sitting in a reception area with nothing to do is not only boring but also unproductive. For this, you can set up a computer terminal or grant guest Wi-Fi access. With this, you will allow clients to quickly check emails or read the headlines. A mounted television, as is the case in most reception areas, is also a great option. If you expect to have children in your reception area, consider creating a small activity area for them.

If the Reception Area is at a Hospital/Medical Center

Typically, a medical office reception area tends to have many chairs to accommodate a number of waiting patients. A good reception area should also be accommodating to differently-abled patients or patients with special needs.

There should be special attention to details, such as the width of doors and ease with which patients in wheelchairs can access the reception area safely and independently. Likewise, the counter’s height, where the individual with special needs will be addressed, is also important.

Many medical office reception areas are also designed with an adjacent restroom. Appropriately placed restrooms near the reception area allow ease of access, and the same preparations should be considered for differently-abled or special needs patients.

Similarly, if the medical office caters to children, such as a pediatrician’s office, there should be suitable child decorations and play items for young patients. Cranky children require many distractions to keep them busy.

If the Reception Area is also a Retail Location

If your office is also a retail location, there will likely be a retail display need. It depends on the size of the business. In this case, consider how to ensemble the reception area to make it conducive for visitors to be tempted to purchase products.

A health and wellness business such as a barber, a beauty salon, or a spa is typical examples of reception areas with retail products to sell. Importantly, when building a reception area, one of the main things to consider is whether or not there is a necessity for installing cameras.

It is recommended that there be a camera or two aimed at both the retail areas as well as the receptionist, particularly if there is a retail display area. Many effective, low-cost camera solutions allow DVR (Digital Video Recording) from cameras placed throughout the business, including the reception area.

How Does Your Reception Area Make an Impression?

As mentioned, you have one chance to make a first impression when visitors enter your office for the first time. In the case of VIP visitors, such as prime job candidates or potential clients, it is especially important to nail it perfectly. When visitors walk in, the front office should present them with an idea of your company’s priorities and personality. That impression can then pave the way nicely for conversations and job interviews that will follow.

Additionally, you also need to be clear about your reception area’s mission. What is the exact message you’re trying to communicate with your reception area? For most companies, the message ties in with your company’s brand. For example, if you have branded your company as fun and vibrant, your front desk’s mission should be to energize and inspire everyone who walks in.

Similarly, if the most important thing for your company to project is a sense of expertise and professionalism, the main purpose of the front desk should be to evoke feelings of trustworthiness, efficiency, and competency. Furthermore, if you are a luxury brand, you might want your reception to make a distinctive statement to surprise posh visitors.

It is not always easy to encapsulate the mission of your front desk in a concise statement. But you can think a little more about who will be coming into your reception area and what will make them feel comfortable. As such, being aware of key details contributes to building a remarkable first impression when it comes to your reception area. The details generally fall into three main categories-


Whether you are designing for a small start-up company or a big firm, you want the reception area to feel elegant and clean. Elegant doesn’t necessarily mean overly fancy or extravagant- it simply means space should be both stylish and pleasant.

Beyond everything, there is a lot of traffic that passes through the reception area. An outdated or bland reception area design can negatively impact the mood of employees, clients, and other visitors. Avoid this by designing a warm and welcoming environment.

Speaking of design, most small companies can’t afford to allocate a substantial amount of money to pay for a big, airy reception area. Nevertheless, even in small spaces, you can still do several things to make the area more calming and spacious. You can start by removing any clutter for a cleaner look. For a small space, downsize the furniture (think sleek, modern chairs instead of big fluffy ones). Outside of design, you can also make sure guests aren’t kept waiting for long, so there’s little chance of making it crowded.

Correspondingly, if your space is minimal, you might not even need a full desk in the reception area. You can have guests check-in via a mounted tablet using a visitor management app like The Receptionist. Customize who gets alerted when visitors arrive and how they get alerted (they can even choose custom intervals). You can also set backup contacts in case the first contact doesn’t respond.

Another factor to consider while designing a reception area is changing the colour of your front office area. It is one of the least expensive ways to experiment with the energy you want to project with the reception area. Similarly, graphics, decor, and accessories all go a long way towards pulling your reception area’s look together. They can complete the statement you want your company or office to make.

For this, there’s no one way to do this; you can play with the line elements, the form, texture, and even the pattern to create a cohesive style that suits the area the best. To create a relaxing vibe, you can even add a beautiful live plant to the front desk (or, to take it a step further, a vertical garden).


A big part of your front office style has a lot to do with the person sitting behind the front desk, including their appearance and behaviour. It’s worth mentioning that your receptionist should also follow your company’s brand when it comes to the presentation. A casual and hip tech startup might not go for a receptionist in a buttoned-up shirt with a tie and blazer, for example.

The opposite might be true for the receptionist of a high-billing service like a legal office or a luxury brand headquarters. Be sure to note in the job description for your receptionist that a professional appearance (whatever that means for your company) will be required. Identically, most companies don’t have enough visitors to dedicate someone solely to visitor management. Thus, front desk workers are often responsible for other administrative or executive tasks as well.

Visitor Check-In Process

The tools you use for the visitor check-in process is the final piece of the puzzle when it comes to your reception area, making a great impression. For example, a paper sign-in log sends the message that your company may be traditional or perhaps old-fashioned. If you want your company to look modern and competent, you may want to switch to digital processes instead.

Final Consideration

If your business is a franchise, it’s always best to follow the franchisor’s recommendation as a guide for building the reception area. One of the advantages of buying a franchise is harnessing the franchisor’s years of experience in creating structures that will enable a business to succeed. The material you use for your reception’s design also plays a huge role.

Make sure you use durable and appropriate materials for your reception desk, chairs, and other accessories. For the best office furniture, you can check out Direct Office. Contact Us at any time for any queries, or simply remember us for the best furniture for all occasions or requirements.


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