by Heidi Core

Enhancing the Patient Experience

For many patients, the waiting room is a place filled with anxiety, stress, or perhaps boredom. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Imagine if your waiting room could be transformed into a space that not only reduces anxiety but also promotes relaxation, engagement, and comfort. A redesigned waiting room has the power to significantly enhance the overall patient experience, leaving a lasting positive impression. Whether it’s a commercial project that needs a touch of sophistication or a residential space yearning for warmth and functionality, a creative approach can make all the difference.

Heidi H. Core, RID, IIDA of Heidi Core Interior Design, LLC explores innovative ideas and practical tips that help her Birmingham, AL clients create a space that aligns with the needs and expectations of their customers. Whether you’re a healthcare provider, in hospitality, or a corporation looking to modernize your offices, she offers valuable insights to help you reimagine your waiting room into a welcoming environment. Heidi Core holds a Bachelor of Interior Design from the LSU School of Architecture and is a distinguished member of the International Interior Design Association. With a remarkable career spanning over three decades, Heidi holds NCIDQ Certification, which stands as the industry’s esteemed symbol of proficiency in interior design principles and serves as a testament to her unwavering dedication to her craft and the profession as a whole. To learn what sets Heidi apart, call 205-259-8780 or schedule your consultation online.


You never get a second chance to make a first impression. This saying holds true in various aspects of life, from meeting new people to visiting unfamiliar places. But have you ever considered how this principle applies to the world of business and client retention? The initial moments when a new patient or client walks into your business can make or break your chances of establishing a lasting connection. 

The psychology behind initial encounters and their powerful influence on our perceptions stems from a combination of cognitive and social factors. Humans are wired to make rapid judgments based on limited information, relying on mental shortcuts and heuristics to quickly assess and categorize new experiences. These initial impressions then shape our attitudes, behaviors, and expectations of the situation. This also means the expectations they have for your business!

The halo effect suggests that if the waiting room is aesthetically pleasing, clean, and well-organized, it can create a positive first impression. [1] This positive initial encounter may lead the person to assume that the business is professional, competent, and attentive to details in other aspects of its operations. 

Conversely, if the waiting room appears disorganized, outdated, or uninviting, it can trigger negative associations and lead to unfavorable judgments about the business. People may perceive the business as unprofessional, lacking attention to detail, and they may even question the quality of its services or products.

Furthermore, the primacy effect, where the first moments of an encounter leave a lasting impact, applies to the waiting room as well. [2] If a person is greeted by a well-designed and comfortable waiting area, it sets a positive tone and creates a sense of trust and satisfaction they’ll remember. On the contrary, a negative initial experience in a poorly maintained or unwelcoming waiting room can leave a lingering negative impression.

Research has shown that humans possess a strong need for cognitive consistency. [3] We strive to align our beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors in a way that is coherent and logical. When we encounter new information or individuals, we instinctively seek out cues that confirm or validate our existing beliefs or stereotypes. If the initial encounter aligns with our preconceived notions, we are more likely to form a positive impression. However, if it contradicts our expectations, it can lead to cognitive dissonance and a more negative perception.

Understanding the psychology behind initial encounters highlights the importance of carefully managing and curating the first impressions we create. By being mindful of the cues design choices such as the aesthetics, cleanliness, and organization of the waiting room send, businesses can actively shape how visitors perceive their brand and overall experience. 


When it comes to customer experience, the waiting room serves as the gateway to that crucial first encounter. As we discussed, the waiting room is more than just a transitional space; it is a pivotal point where customers form initial perceptions and expectations.


Customer comfort should be a top priority when designing a waiting room. By considering factors such as 

  • Seating arrangements
  • Lighting
  • Temperature control
  • Noise levels

businesses can create a space that promotes relaxation and a sense of well-being. Additionally, incorporating elements of engagement, such as reading materials, interactive displays, or complementary amenities, can help customers pass the time more enjoyably, enhancing their overall experience.


The waiting room presents a unique opportunity for businesses to communicate their brand identity and values. Through thoughtful design choices, businesses can align the waiting room’s aesthetics, decor, and branding with their overall image. Consistency in visual elements, messaging, and tone of voice helps reinforce the brand’s identity and creates a cohesive experience that resonates with customers.


Seeing familiar symbols, images, or references to local culture creates an immediate sense of belonging and connection. It reminds individuals that they are part of a larger community, instilling a sense of pride and identity. This connection can help create a positive emotional response and a feeling of being understood and valued by the business.


Waiting can be a source of anxiety and stress for individuals, especially if they are unsure of where to go or what to expect. Well-designed signage alleviates this uncertainty by providing clear instructions and information. By knowing where to go and what to do, customers feel more at ease and can focus on their needs or prepare for their appointment.


Color and lighting play vital roles in creating a positive experience in the waiting room. Here’s how they work together to shape the ambiance and influence emotions:


Colors have the power to evoke specific emotions and moods. When choosing colors for the waiting room, it’s important to consider the desired atmosphere and the type of business. Here are some commonly associated emotions with colors:

  • Blue: Calmness, trust, and serenity.
  • Green: Relaxation, healing, and harmony.
  • Yellow: Happiness, optimism, and energy.
  • Orange: Warmth, enthusiasm, and creativity.
  • Neutral tones: Elegance, simplicity, and versatility.

Selecting a color palette that aligns with the desired ambiance can help create a welcoming and soothing environment, making individuals feel comfortable and at ease during their wait.


Proper lighting design can transform the waiting room atmosphere and significantly impact mood and perception. Heidi Core considers the following aspects when planning to light for the waiting room:

  • Incorporating ample natural light can create a sense of openness, enhance mood, and provide a connection to the outside world. Large windows or skylights can introduce natural light, providing a refreshing and inviting atmosphere.
  • Carefully selecting artificial lighting fixtures can create a well-balanced and functional space. Warm or soft lighting can help create a cozy and calming ambiance, while bright and focused lighting may be necessary for specific tasks or reading areas.
  • Installing dimmers or lighting controls allows flexibility in adjusting the lighting levels throughout the day, accommodating different moods or activities. This enables customization and ensures optimal lighting conditions for various situations.
  • Strategic use of accent lighting can highlight architectural features, artwork, or focal points in the waiting room, adding visual interest and creating a sense of depth and dimension.


Achieving harmony between color and lighting is crucial to creating a positive experience. The lighting should complement the chosen color scheme, enhancing its impact and maintaining consistency in the overall design.

  • Warm lighting, such as soft yellow or amber tones, can enhance the coziness and richness of warm color palettes, creating a welcoming and intimate atmosphere.
  • Cool-toned lighting, such as white or blue hues, can enhance the soothing and refreshing qualities of cool color palettes, evoking a sense of relaxation and tranquility.


While certain colors and lighting techniques have general psychological effects, Heidi Core considers individual preferences and the specific needs of the waiting room’s users. Some individuals may have sensitivities to certain colors or light intensities, so it’s essential to strike a balance that caters to a broad range of people.


Waiting is often viewed as a wasted and unproductive time. However, by reimagining the waiting room, businesses can transform it into a valuable and purposeful space. Instead of merely being a place to pass the time, the waiting room can become an opportunity to engage, inform, and provide meaningful experiences for customers.

In the world of interior design, timing is everything. Waiting to schedule your consultation with Heidi Core means potentially missing out on an incredible design opportunity. With her exceptional skills, extensive experience, and unwavering commitment to excellence, Heidi is the designer you need to bring your vision to life. 

Call 205-259-8780 to schedule an appointment in Birmingham, AL, and beyond. Don’t wait to transform your space into something extraordinary – seize the opportunity to work with Heidi and unlock the full potential of your design vision.


  1. Leuthesser L, Kohli CS, Harich KR. Brand equity: the halo effect measure. European Journal of Marketing. 1995;29(4):57-66.
  2. Psychology. Primacy Effect in Memory – IResearchNet. Psychology. Published January 13, 2016.
  3. Psychology. Cognitive Consistency (SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY) – iResearchNet. Psychology. Published January 5, 2016.