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Designing a brighter future

July 1, 2009
by Douglas J. Edwards, Editor-in-Chief
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I love HGTV. I don't have cable, so family and friends chuckle at my requests to have some “TV time” at their homes. I'm captivated by how the right fabric here, the carefully chosen color there, and close attention to a client's preferences can help an interior designer create a pleasing, warm, comfortable, and sometimes kid-friendly environment.

Some behavioral healthcare facilities probably could benefit from HGTV-inspired ideas. Of course, the quality of the services is what really matters, but the physical space certainly can have an impact on clients' and staffs' moods and expectations. Just changing a paint color can make a big difference. For example, the Carrier Clinic in New Jersey created warmer, cheerier rooms by painting gray cinder-block walls with hues named Gleeful, June Day, Wisteria, Inspiring Lilac, Butter Up, and Exciting Orange (See for before and after photos).

Some behavioral healthcare facilities need more than a simple makeover. Many psychiatric hospitals, some built in the 1800s, no longer provide environments conducive to effective, efficient, and recovery-oriented care delivery, and in this issue we present plans to reinvent these campuses. Several are incorporating a “treatment mall” concept to offer patients a secure setting to practice real-life skills. All across the country other types of behavioral healthcare and social service organizations-outpatient facilities, private addiction treatment centers, homeless shelters, you name it-are re-creating their locations as more light-infused, more colorful, and less institutional settings.

In these tough financial times such expenses are hardly an important budget item for many organizations, but perhaps where there's a will there's a way, as six Sherwin-Williams stores donated 120 gallons of paint for Carrier Clinic's project and other companies provided grant support for numerous finishing touches. Providers could turn to clients for inspiring artwork. Remodeling activities could be incorporated into vocational programs. And if you need more ideas, tune into one of my favorite HGTV shows: Design on a Dime.

P.S. Behavioral Healthcare has an online resource center devoted exclusively to facility design. Visit

Douglas J. Edwards, Editor-in-Chief Behavioral Healthcare 2009 July-August;29(7):6