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Office reception and waiting room ideas: Design tips and layouts

Waiting rooms are an important part of any business. They provide a space for clients to organise their thoughts, get forms and documents together, and get a feel for who you are and what your organisation does while they wait for you to see them. Whether they’re a candidate about to be interviewed, or a family queuing to see the dentist, your waiting room or reception area is the first part of your office that clients see, and as such it’s imperative it makes the right impression.

Designing a waiting room is a great opportunity to present your business in the best possible way. In this guide, we’ll share some office reception ideas, including top design tips and reception furniture layout plans. We’ll cover:

Waiting room chair and seating ideas

6 office waiting room design tips

3 reception furniture layouts for you to try

Waiting room chair and seating ideas

Whether you have a large or small waiting room to work with, you should always start with the most crucial aspect — seating — and build the rest of your design around that. Here, we’ve shared the three most important considerations for you to bear in mind when picking the perfect seats for your reception area.

Comfort and longevity

Comfortable seating helps to make your visitors feel at ease, and it’s particularly important if you know they’re going to be waiting for more than 20 minutes in your reception room. So, when you find seating you like, make sure you test it out yourself and see if you can imagine yourself sitting on it comfortably for a long period of time.

Some chairs and sofas feel good to sit on at first but can quickly become uncomfortable if they aren’t made in the right way. And, some furniture designers prioritise style over quality, when the two needn’t be mutually exclusive. Luckily, our quality sofa-spotting guide can help you choose seating that is both comfortable and sturdy enough to stand the test of time. Look out for solid hardwood frames, ideally with sprung suspension and foam cushion interiors, to make sure you’re making the right investment.

Durability

As your waiting room is a high-traffic area, you’ll need the sofas and armchairs to be covered with a durable fabric. That way, you won’t have to repair or replace them as often. Look for hard-wearing cottons and linens that are tough enough to withstand constant use, but avoid loose weaves that can snag easily and make your sofas look shabby — our Harris Tweed and Clever Velvet are a good-looking, hard-wearing options. Alternatively, leather is a tough fabric that is also easy to clean, so your leather seats should continue to look their best for a long time.

You can use our leather and fabric sofa care guides to help keep your seating in top condition.

Aesthetics

For the most appealing seating, many people choose to stick to traditional styles and shapes rather than anything too contemporary. For example, Chesterfield sofas look good in almost any room, and their curved designs can make your reception area appear friendly and welcoming. Even innovative and uber-modern tech-giant Google has leather chesterfield sofas in the lobby of its Belgrave House office. So, look for styles of seating that are timeless, have mass appeal, and go with practically any room design, and you won’t have to reconsider your sofas and chairs if and when you redecorate.

6 office waiting room design tips

Once you’ve got your reception area and waiting room seating sorted, you can begin to think about additional furniture and colour scheme, as well as finishing touches and décor.

1. Colour scheme

The best waiting room colour scheme to go for really depends on what kind of business you are. Medical and dental waiting rooms, for example, usually want to demonstrate hygiene and evoke calm, which can be achieved with clean pastel shades. Law and legal waiting rooms are more likely to want to give off an air of professionalism and success with rich jewel tones, such as emerald or ruby. Of course, salons and spas should opt for luxurious (gold and silver) or fun (pink, lilac, or turquoise) shades of colour depending on whether you provide a high-end or friendly experience.

2. Tables

While seating is no doubt the most important aspect of a waiting room, you also need to provide a coffee table or, if space is limited, a side table. Perhaps you’ll be offering visitors a cup of tea or a glass of water when they arrive — they’ll need somewhere to put down their drink. And, if they have forms to fill in or have brought files and documents with them, they’ll be able to organise them better before your meeting. Alternatively, a footstool used as a table can double up as extra seating if your waiting room tends to get busy.

It can help to have a few brochures or centre piece on your table for your guests to look at, just don’t go too far the other way and cover the table in knick-knacks and literature. Clutter can actually raise people’s blood pressure and make visiting your office a stressful experience, whereas a flat, clear surface with one or two points of interest will be an engaging yet calming sight.

3. Lighting

A waiting room that is properly lit can help your visitors feel calm, yet alert. As with any indoor space, natural light is best, but can be quite hard to come by depending on the architecture of your building. Instead, use a lighting design that comprises multiple sources of light distributed evenly, including spotlights, wall lights, and lamps. This will illuminate your room properly but in a less harsh way than a single light source.

4. Focal point

Focal points help guide the eye around the room and make your design much more harmonious. This can have a knock-on effect on how your guests will feel, particularly if it’s their first time in your office. A focal point can be static, like a neon sign or living wall, or calmly kinetic like aquariums and water features. It’s usually best to avoid anything too stimulating, like a TV, unless the volume is turned down low.

5. Plants

You should keep clutter to a minimum if you want a calming reception area, but decorative touches are still important for creating the right kind of atmosphere for your office. The best way to get the balance right is to focus on plants. A few healthy plants can make a big difference to your waiting room, particularly if it’s on the small side, because they look great, trap dust, muffle noise, and can help improve air quality. So, adding plants to your waiting room can leave it feeling fresher and more aesthetically pleasing.

6. Complementary features

It’s beneficial to include complementary extras in your office space, as they can be invaluable for achieving excellent online reviews. Your offerings could include free WiFi for guests — that way, they can catch up on some work, scroll through social media, or entertain their children while they wait. If your WiFi is password protected, make sure it’s easy to see by pinning it on a notice board or framing it and popping it onto a side table.

You may also want to consider providing refreshments like jugs of fresh juice, or a self-service coffee machine. Again, your visitors should be able to tell at a glance whether these are free to use to save them the awkwardness of asking, so putting a sign somewhere immediately visible can help.

3 reception furniture layouts for you to try

Regardless of how much space you have to work with, the right reception furniture layout can create a pleasant, calming environment for visitors to your office. Here, we’ve put together three layout ideas using the tips above for you to try out in your waiting room.

Option 1: Large waiting room

In this layout, there are plenty of seating options for people to choose from depending on their needs. The clustered seating can appeal to anyone alone or in a group, while a combination of armchairs and two-seater sofas will suit different sized groups accordingly without forcing individuals to share. All the décor, including plants, are dotted throughout the room rather than clumped together or set in rigid rows for a more laid back and open effect.

Option 2: Large waiting room with two zones

The seating in this layout means that no one sits with their back to the refreshments, entertainment, or reception desk, which should result in a friendlier atmosphere and ensure everyone feels comfortable asking for what they need. Again, there are a few different seating options for differently sized groups, including three- or even four-seater sofas, and the aquarium in the centre of the room provides a calming focal point.

Option 3: Small waiting room

A more creative use of limited space is to add a corner or L-shaped sofa. Alternatively, a three-seater sofa along the back wall with an armchair or 1.5-seater sofa at a 90° angle can also work well, plus it will give you room for another side table in the corner. The low back armchair is at a 45° angle for a relaxed feel, and again no one sits with their back to the reception desk to encourage friendliness. Because floor space is at a premium, a potted plant on the coffee table is used to add an extra touch of greenery.

These office reception ideas are perfect if you want to create a comfortable, friendly space that makes the right first impression on your visitors and guests.

At Sofas by Saxon, we offer a wide range of beautiful, hand-crafted sofas perfect for all kinds of interiors. From Chesterfields to modern designs, you’re sure to find the best pieces to add to your office waiting room here.

In addition to variety of different models to consider, we also have a range of colours and fabrics to choose from. So, you can truly get a bespoke experience when you choose to buy your ideal seating from us, and we are more than happy to send out sample swatches to help you narrow your options down.

You can also check out our interior design advice hub for more helpful tips and inspiration, or our in-depth sofa buying guides will certainly come in handy if you’re ready to start thinking about making a purchase.

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