Artist, Designer, Dentist!

By Kate Riley July 6, 2011

I love getting inspiration from the most unexpected sources, and recently I found it in one of the most unusual places you could ever imagine: a dentist’s office.  A few weeks ago, I took my kids to a new dentist for the obligatory checkup.  The dentist happened to be the mom of a kid that my kid goes to preschool with and she was highly recommended so I made the appointments and brought my kids in.

I could not believe this was a dentist’s office. 

dentist entry

As I looked around, I admired the use of color and the deliberate mix of textures and  styles pulled together in a cohesive way.  I noticed that there were both Lucite and wood stump end tables in the entry, vivid color on the walls, bold original art on large scale canvases, and chrome and beaded sconces and chandeliers. 

In a dentist’s office.  Wow.

wood stump and sofa

After my kids had their cleaning, I had the opportunity to talk to the dentist herself, Dr. Praveena Permalla.  Praveena explaned that no, she did not hire anyone to decorate her office space, and yes, she designed it all herself, floor to ceiling.  She chose every color, fabric, fixture and surface.

It. Is. Uh-may-zing!

I asked Praveena what was the inspiration for her design and she was kind enough to put a few words in writing for me.  It’s so refreshing and inspiring to hear a professional speak of an office space in the way Praveena does. 

“Dental offices have been designed in the same old fashion for so many years that most people do not believe it is possible for beautiful design to coexist with clinical efficiency and function. I knew it would be a challenge, but I never questioned that it would be possible to achieve both.

Designing this practice was an opportunity for me to test the waters of my design capability.  Until this project, I never had the opportunity to literally start from the ground up and let loose.  In making the design decisions I constantly asked myself, what works for me?  What feels like home?’ The idea of home is the overarching design theme of the space.  I purposefully chose to purchase furniture designed for the home instead of an office.”

Like this cowhide chair.   This is where patients sit to fill out their “forms” online.  It’s a very green office, so there are no paper files, and everything is digital.  In any other dentist’s office you’d see an ordinary office chair, but not here.  Instead, Praveena chose this Eames inspired plywood molded chair that you’d find as a stylish modern accent in a home.  I love it!

eames inspired cowhide chair


She continues:

“Aside from providing patients with the comforts of home, I also wanted to transform their expectations. Most patients dread even the sight of a dental chair, but when the dental chair is a vibrant green, it suddenly becomes less intimidating.

Sterilization rooms may also cause patients anxiety when they see the metal tools lying on the counter.  We go through great lengths to insure that our tools are kept from view. The colorful tile backsplash and the kitchen sink provide a comforting feeling of home to anyone who happens to view the sterilization room.”

sterilization room


Praveena mixed her cabinetry colors too, adding rich mahogany (not shown) to keep the white from being too overpowering, as is so on trend right now in kitchen design.  The glass mosaic tile backsplash has all shades of chocolate, gray, and white mixed together in a random pattern and it is stunning. 

One of my favorite details is this asymmetrical hand washing basin sink, and the repetition of the same glass tile backsplash.  Such great ceramic soap dispensers too!

handwashing basin


Listen to how Praveena describes the accessories in her office.  She applies the same techniques to her professional space that we do to our own homes. 

“The accessories displayed throughout the office, such as pillows, vases, and paintings are some of my favorite elements of the space. By constantly rotating the pieces, I am able to give the office a fresh look without actually needing to purchase additional accessories. 

I particularly love changing the paintings as they are often the first elements that grab the attention of my patients.”

Attention grabbing is right!  Here is a recent piece Praveena painted herself in the space where she treats small children.  How creative and fun is this artwork?  I love the playful use of color and those floating flowers on the wall.  What a great message she’s sending: this is an inviting atmosphere where children should not be afraid, rather they should feel comfortable. 

lol art


“My paintings are most often inspired by my desire to see a particular color or achieve a certain aesthetic quality. Instead of repainting an entire wall, I am able to capture my vision on canvas. This office has become my own art gallery and it is wonderful to receive positive reactions from patients when they view my personal creative work.”

You can see in more of her bold canvases in this image of her entry below.  Those two orchids on canvas she painted are so beautiful in person, and she has such attention to detail.  Also, notice how the colors on the painted office walls come from the vivid green, orange, and blues that exist in her paintings.  And here’s the remarkable thing: Praveena is completely self taught as an artist. 

entry view

Standard issue waiting room chairs?  Nope, not here.  Those are upholstered gray blue velvet dining room chairs from West Elm.  I think that’s just brilliant.  Don’t miss those beaded chandeliers hanging to the left, and there are even more chrome and beaded sconces scattered throughout the office space.  Every detail is well thought out, taking into consideration both comfort and style in every aspect of the design. 

My biggest takeaway from my new dentist’s office is this: professional business spaces need not be sterile nor styled in traditional methods of the past.  Bring bold color, modern lines, fabrics, texture and art into an office space, and all of a sudden it’s more welcoming, like a home.  I applaud Praveena for having the tenacity to stick to her vision, even when contractors and other business professionals discounted her ideas.  Praveena’s goal was to transform expectations with her unconventional thinking, and to that I say mission accomplished! 

If you’re local, I recommend their dental services too, Praveena and her fantastic team have great bedside manner, especially with children.  You can read all about her professional services and eco-friendly dentistry here




  1. If my Dentist’s office looked as cool as that I think I would be making an appt. every week, just to sit and be inspired by pure awesomeness.

  2. Wow! What a talent! I’d say she missed her calling, but if she’s a terrific dentist, too, then I suppose she just had several callings. Love her use of color. Thanks for sharing.

  3. This space is beautiful! So refreshing to walk into a clinical space and see beautiful colors and good design! And that hide-covered Eames chair…I must have it.

  4. What a great space! I love that she takes into account how a room makes you *feel*… and makes that work for her business.
    Smart lady!

    Thanks for sharing

  5. Wow! I just love this space! I used to work at a private dental practice and it never dawned on us to incorporate modern design within the office, even though the doctor was into design herself. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful office!!

  6. WOW that is amazing. Seriously…. I would go to her just for the office. I love that she made a special place for the kids, I bet it makes going to the dentist much less traumatizing!

  7. WOW oh WOW!! I absolutely LOVE every piece of her artwork! I would totally purchase those right now! Amazing…wish my dentists office looked like that as I’m completely terrified of going! This for sure would make me want to go just to look at how beautiful it is!

  8. I had to comment on this post as our dentist office is beautifully decorated. One of the girls does interior design on the side so she did the renov. it is gorgeous. It’s pale blues, light shades of aqua and tan. I love it. They even had the paint colors when I asked them!!

  9. That is so funny! I just went to a new dentist last week and was admiring the way they decorated it, too. They had some beautiful crystal pendants hanging above the receptionist area that I would love to have. As someone who despises going to the dentist, I appreciated the effort to make it a more enjoyable place!

  10. That’s really a beautiful office! It she’s half as good as a dentist as she is a designer, I’d totally be going back to see her again!

  11. What a fantastic space! Thanks for sharing. Any ideas where I can find those cute ceramic soap dispensers?

  12. Beautiful! As a wife of a dentist I wholeheartedly agree that dental offices get stuck in the same decorating rut. My husbands three partners don’t get it as I have been trying to get a fresh look for the office for a while. Maybe I’ll take these pictures in so they can visualize it! Thanks for posting them!

  13. I love this office. So inviting and homey. I love her attention to details like not having instruments within view. It is the little things that make people at ease in your office and in our homes.

  14. I wish I could go to her. She has great style. What a fun, bright, and cheery office. I can see why you would want to write about it. Just amazing to see such great design in a dentist’s office.
    My best- Diane

  15. wow….she did an amazing job, and i think more people should take a cue from her in the medical profession.

  16. WOW! What an inspiring office space. I love that she is so sensitive the the feelings of her clients and really created that space in a way that would set their minds at ease. Seriously wishing I had a dentist like that!

  17. I actually have a friend who is starting a consulting business for medical professionals and one of the services she’ll be offering is design of the office. Her theory is that if the office is updated, patients are more likely to assume that the equipment and staff skills are also continually upgraded. If that’s the case, your new dentist wouldn’t need her help!

  18. WOW! That is one amazing dentist office! You can really tell she took great efforts in creating an inviting atmosphere for her clients!

  19. W.O.W. My dentist is a lovely older gentleman approaching retirement, and his office is, too. I swear, I would stop flossing just to visit Praveena’s awesome waiting room more often! You can tell that she’s a thoughtful, careful dentist just by the care and attention she put into how her office makes her patients feel. Fantastic!!

  20. Beautiful! When I owned my Veterinary clinic, I tried to add flare to the waiting, exam and reception areas. While I had to keep in mind that, you know, dogs will urinate all over, cats are vomiting, you get good ole pus and blood on a regular basis, I still tried to keep it ‘pretty’. No tacky advertising on the walls for flea control, only reproduction French advertisments for vet clinics (Clinique Cheron etc). Stylish wrought iron black shelves to display foods, rather than the ugly ones that the food companies try to give you. Custom made benches, rather than the old bus depot benches that were there previously. I must admit, though, that this dentist office puts my little clinic and attempt at styling it to shame. She’s done an amazing job and good for her! I know first hand how hard it is to be a professional, be a mom, and still have time to make your surroundings pretty. Thanks for sharing =)

  21. wow! lesson learned on having your camera with you at all times! I’m totally pinning that backsplash for my kitchen!

  22. Love it! I love when people think outside the box! Also, I love that she is both a dentist and extremely creative and artistic. Way to break stereotypes! Who decided that white is a more sterile color than green or orange, anyway? I never understood that.

  23. She seems amazing. I work in a college admissions office, so when talking to students there’s always that tension between “I want to be an art major, but maybe I know I need to pursue an actual career.” I love how she is successful career woman and yet makes art and design a part of her life anyway – way to go Praveena!!

  24. what a beautiful office! She did an amazing job, I would never think that was a dental office if you didn’t tell me, I also love that she does the art herself, what a wonderful personal touch

  25. what an amazing space – she is multi-talented. Thank you Kate for featuring her beautiful office. Where did she find the ceramic soap dispensers? They are terrific!

  26. My eyes got big and my mouth was open the entire time, reading this post. What a remarkable juxtaposition of art and science!

  27. Wow, that space is gorgeous and serene. My dad was a dentist and he would always say that his sense of humor came from the fact that patients were terrified to go sit in a dentist chair so he used humor to calm them. This dental space would just make the whole experience even better from the second a patient walks through the door.

  28. Wow! I really love her style and her art is amazing! Thank you for sharing!!!

  29. I am DROOLING (no pun intended)! I am a brand new dentist. Just graduated a few weeks ago and this is EXACTLY what I am dreaming of doing. Designing and decorating an office to feel so wonderfully inviting that brilliant bloggers would want to feature it :o) That is just so cool! Who would have thought that I could be inspired right here about my profession! :o) And really all of the comments here are great things for me to keep in mind when I do try to make final decisions about decor! Thanks always for a wonderful post!

  30. How funny…I clicked to see where “local” is, and it’s actually in my town! I am in love with our dentist (she’s been cleaning my teeth since I was 4) but good to know there are options in the P.

    I can’t believe I came across a local blog…my lucky day:)

  31. Awesome inspiration images! My kids went to an orthodontist for years who had the most outrageous office space ever. The overall theme was the sea and the Nautilus shell played a major role in the designs. In the room that the kids sat in was open and the ceiling mimicked being under water with porpoise diving down. Love when they go the extra mile to make these offices pleasant. Thanks for sharing

  32. What an incredible office. As much as I love my dentist his office is very much white, grey and sterile. I think I would get my teeth done far more regularly if I got to sit in that office!

  33. I’ve been in her office, Kate and was blown away when I walked in! I was ready to move in. I’m so glad that she followed her artistic vision and created such a whimsical environment. It is a fun office!

  34. What? That office rocks. Am so jealous. Don’t ask me what I do for a living or what my office looks like. Not my fault though since my partner is cheap and has no taste:(

  35. I think I’m in shock. I have never been in any office of any kind that looked that good. You must have thought you wandered into one of your dreams! Her paintings are amazing. Love this!

  36. Beautiful is an understatement! My dentist decorated his office in the most serene blue/gray shade I’ve ever seen. Everything is so soothing and relaxing. He also has the gorgeous glass tile backsplash and walls. Another thing he did is put different kinds of inspirational posters and flat screen TVs on the ceilings in the exam rooms! It doesn’t look anything like your kids’ dentist office, but it’s quite nice. :)

  37. Oooh pretty! My dental office is pretty wonderfully decorated as well. But yours is certainly the best I’ve ever seen. Especially since she didn’t use a designer!

  38. Wow. You will be contacted by a magazine for permission to publish this piece. Great photos and article. Some people are so talented! I have that acrylic table from Overstock. It’s awesome!

  39. Now that is truly amazing! Kudos to her for thinking out of the box! If she gets tired of dentistry….she certainly has a backup plan as a painter! Thanks for sharing!

  40. Wow, that really is incredible! Good for that dentist for rocking their space. It kind of makes me want to dress up my drab office for something more “Michelle!”

  41. Wow if this is her office – I wonder what her home looks like?! Maybe she’d let you give us all a peek :) My kids would love getting their teeth cleaned there! She’s done a great job not only of making it feel more like a home rather than an office but also of creating an environment that is just as great for adults as it is for kids!

  42. Thanks to Kate for sharing her experience visiting my office! I am overwhelmed by the positive feelings by all the readers. It gives me immense satisfaction that people appreciate what I have tried to do with my office… bring cheer and uplift people’s spirit thru art and work (creating healthy beautiful smiles) in the community. I would like to take the opportunity to welcome everyone of you, if you happen to be in town to stop by my office, say hello, spend a little time to enjoy the office and spread the cheer! And through you expressions, you are promoting art design and style appreciation to make this world a bit better… I am in the process of updating my website with some new pictures, should be ready in a day.

    And for those young minds, who feel that they need to forgo an “art major” ( as Lindsey said) in favor of an “actual career”, I say don’t compromise! You can do it all… If I can, you can too!

  43. What a lovely inspiring space! Can I ask and find out where those sconces are from? I would love to use them in my own home, and am looking for something like that.

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