Your waiting room is often a customer’s first impression of your business. Smart waiting room planning can help you provide a comfortable, inviting experience right from the start and ensure that first impression is a positive one.


Here are some pro tips for measuring, planning, and furnishing a waiting room your customers won’t mind lingering in just a little longer. 

Waiting Room Measurement in 5 Steps

Taking accurate measurements is the crucial first step to planning your waiting room. Having a clear understanding of square footage and placement of items like windows or columns helps you choose furniture that fits—and arrange it in a way that makes visitors feel comfortable.


Here are 5 quick steps for collecting waiting room measurements:

  1. Make sure you have a drawing of the floor plan. You can get one from your leasing office, create one yourself, or use a tool like RoomSketcher. Don’t forget to include doorways and windows.

  2. Next, measure the perimeter of the room and record the exact width of each wall on the floor plan. 

  3. Measure the length and width of doors and windows and record measurements on the floor plan. 

  4. Note other elements that may affect your space planning, such as electrical outlets, columns, breaker boxes, and HVAC control pads or vents. 

  5. Finally, measure the ceiling height and record it on your floor plan. 


Now that you’re equipped with the numbers you need, it’s time for the next step: planning.

4 Pointers for Waiting Room Planning

Waiting room planning often isn’t as straightforward as planning a private office because needs can vary by company size and industry. For example, healthcare waiting rooms are typically planned with quick check-ins and a steady stream of appointments in mind, while marketing agencies may use their waiting rooms to showcase projects or awards to prospective clients.


Although waiting rooms vary, there are some common themes: A waiting room should foster a strong first impression and comfortably accommodate your visitors’ needs.


Here are 3 crucial elements to consider when planning your waiting room:

  1. Traffic: Most visitors will enter through the main doors, check in at the reception desk, then take a seat. Make their arrival feel easy and pleasant by creating an unobstructed path. If your waiting room gets busy enough that a line forms, make sure there’s space for visitors to queue up and enough seating to accommodate them once they’ve checked in.

  2. Spacing: Are your visitors arriving individually or in groups? Couches or grouped chairs are better for groups, whereas individual seating is often spaced out a bit more because it can be awkward to sit elbow-to-elbow with a total stranger. And, of course, spacing out furniture can help with the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses.

  3. Comfort: If visitors may be waiting a while, consider including a television to provide some entertainment or a refreshment stand with coffee or tea, water, and individually packaged snacks. And do your best to choose furniture that won’t give your visitors a stiff back (more on this later). 


Review your floor plan and measurements as you think about these elements. Consider where you could place your primary furniture—reception desk and visitor seating—to keep traffic flowing smoothly. 


And make sure you have enough square footage to accommodate the seating you have in mind. A good rule of thumb is allotting 20 sq. ft. per person for smaller seats and 30–35 sq. ft. per person for lounge-style seating. (Read our guide to waiting room seating for more tips.)

Bonus: 2 Tips for Healthcare Waiting Rooms

Global architecture firm Gensler studied how design affects patient experience in waiting rooms and made 2 notable findings: 

  1. Arranging furniture in small clusters to create intimate seating areas where groups of visitors could face each other increased communication by 100%. Patients and their families found it easy to engage in casual conversation to pass the time. 

  2. Incorporating familiar elements like a map of the neighborhood and locally favored colors or fabrics into the waiting room design reduced patients’ perceived wait times, resulting in a 25% decrease in complaints. 


The lesson: Making patients feel more comfortable while waiting enhances their experience and encourages positive perceptions of time spent in the waiting room.


See healthcare waiting room furnishings here.

Waiting Room Furniture and Decor

You’ve measured and planned—there’s only one thing left to do: Furnish your space. 


Try to choose furniture and decor that matches your brand and cultivates the atmosphere you’re striving for. For example, sleek lines and minimalist artwork create a modern feel, while oversized furniture and ornate decorations are associated with luxury and elegance.


There’s also wear and tear to consider: If you have a high-traffic waiting room, choosing materials like metal or laminate will help your furniture look new for years to come. 


Of course you’ll need a reception desk, seating, and side tables, but don’t forget about decorative pieces: Artwork, rugs, and plants can add personality and make your space feel inviting.

Short on Time? Let the Pros Plan a Waiting Room Your Visitors Don’t Want to Leave

If you don’t want to add anything else to your to-do list, we can help. Take advantage of our free office design services, and we’ll assess your needs, craft a custom waiting room plan for you, and help you select the right furniture.


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