March 13, 2018
3 min read

Neutral walls, color accents best for waiting room

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Yip, OD
Vern Yip

ATLANTA – “Create a neutral envelope and keep it monochromatic,” when it comes to the optometric practice waiting room, according to interior designer Vern Yip here at SECO’s MedPro 360.

The HGTV Trading Spaces and Design Star celebrity told attendees at the program, which was partially sponsored by Healio, that the darkest surface should be the floor, the next darkest should be the walls, and the lightest should be the ceiling.

“You expand your sense of volume,” he said. “Employ colors with warm undertones, keep it neutral in the seating and upholstering, and if you want pops of color, do it in a way that’s easy to change, with throw pillows and artwork.”

He said the room should be repainted every 2 to 3 years.

Yip said he has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and was a pre-med student before switching gears and pursuing a Master’s degree in architecture.

“My brain was trained to think about design in a very different way, influenced by my science background,” he said. “Design and spaces are more than just aesthetics. A design needs to successfully engage its audience and it needs to be functional.”

Yip noted the differences between a designer and a decorator.

“An interior decorator is not allowed, by law, to design a space that’s not for single family residence,” he said.

Interior designers must have some type of degree, and they must be certified by the Council for Interior Design Qualification to design commercial spaces, Yip said.

He said an interior designer should lay out your space before anything is purchased.

“A coffee table should be 18 inches from the seating area and be one-half to two-thirds the size of the sofa,” he said. “Make sure you have plenty of circulation to move around the space. The minimum is 36 inches, and you must have 60 inches of clearance for a wheelchair. It must be ADA-compliant.”

He said the No. 1 question he gets asked is how high pictures should be hung.

“We say 60 inches from the floor to the middle of the picture or mirror,” Yip said. “It’s largely accepted that that’s the average human eye level.”

He said, “Many of you try to cram too many seats in your working area than is comfortable. Americans like to have personal space. Chairs should be no closer than 24 inches from center line to center line. People tend to choose seats away from each other. Are all those chairs necessary?”


Upholstered furniture should be commercial grade, he said. A hardwood frame will last longer, and the cushion should have a spring bed. Lights over the check-in desk should be a minimum of 66 inches over the counter.

“What usually ends up hanging on the walls in the office is stuff they didn’t want at home or diplomas, but when you use the 60-inch rule, there’s a thread of continuity to help visually pull your space together to make it more appealing,” he said. “You want to convey cleanliness and neatness. You don’t want it to end up looking like a yard sale.”

He urged caution when selecting LEDs lights: “Select them on the warm spectrum.”

He said they are more expensive up front, but will save money in the long run.

“Have plenty of storage, and keep it closed,” Yip said. “Open bookcases with materials lying on them may seem like a great idea, but it’s another thing to maintain visually. It conveys a level of messiness. Edit your reading material.”

Strategic hanging of mirrors can help make a space that is “window-challenged” brighter.

A fan of organic elements, Yip recommended orchid plants or a bowl of Granny Smith apples.

“It helps relax the people who are waiting to see you,” he said. – by Nancy Hemphill, ELS, FAAO


Yip V. Design and the medical office. Presented at: SECO; March 3, 2018; Atlanta.

Disclosure: Yip is owner of Vern Yip Designs.