You know that waiting room, the one with the old school geometric printed carpet, or the one with the couch that you sink uncomfortably into. It’s the story of most suburban clinics that haven’t had an update in years. This was exactly what Interior Design & Decoration alumni Fiona Crichton, Ceri Farrokhnia, Frances Lech, and Iona Litchfield faced when Yarra Valley Psychology approached the course looking for emerging designers to transform their clinic into a soothing haven.
But like most spaces from the ‘80s era, one thing was immediately obvious to the group.
All through the brick stairwell and into the waiting room, the walls were painted a bright blue by previous tenants, a jarring colour for those who came to the clinic looking to talk through their struggles.
“They wanted to change the colour, which shows they're looking out for their clients. So we wanted to help them as much as we could to make it a more appropriate space for that function,” Ceri says.
Yarra Valley Psychology Clinic before the revamp
The students were adamant that the space needed to be repainted to create a calming environment, and chose a cool white that matched the new grey furniture and radiated neutralness to fit the room’s purpose.
“That's actually one of the first things we study, learning about the psychology of colour and the effects of lighting on colour as well,” she adds.
But the walls weren’t the only challenges.
Having a restricted budget can make an interior designer feel as if they have to rope in their creative freedom, but the graduates knew that with some comprehensive research, they could find stylish options that were still reasonably-priced.
Before and after of Yarra Valley Psychology Clinic stairwell
“You've just got to be really open minded,” Fiona recommends. “In the real world, some clients may not have a huge budget but they would like to have a fresh space, which you absolutely can do. There's some great items out there that don't cost the earth that can make a big difference.”
Their success was also largely built on the group’s collaborative approach, as they learned to bounce ideas off one another and compromise on important decisions.
“It was a great project in that it was so nice to work with some of the girls outside of school on a real life job,” Ceri shares.
“All four of us are very different in our design aesthetics, so we were able to throw around different ideas and come up with a solution that one person may not have been able to do on their own,” Fiona says.
Yarra Valley Psychology Clinic after the revamp
The alumni say they wouldn’t have been able to successfully complete the project as they did without the groundwork that was laid down at Collarts, where they faced difficult choices or processes that practicing interior designers follow everyday. Whether it was working within budgets or creating floor plans, Fiona says she is thankful she had the opportunity in the first place.
"It's given us a true-to-life project to work on whilst studying and reaffirmed everything we learned at Collarts," she commends.
"The four of us really did have full control of this project the whole time, and not only can you apply these skills to projects outside of the course, but it's confirmed long-lasting friendships as well."