Design Therapy: a radical interior design makeover of Dr. Walsh’s Office.

Client: Dr. Jane Walsh, Psychologist

Location: Millidge Place, Saint John New Brunswick

Scope: Branding | Logo | Collateral +  Interior Design

Interior Design: PUNCH INSIDE  | Judith Mackin

Branding:  PUNCH Productions in collaboration with Gillian Goldie

Length of Project: March 28th to September 28th 2011 (6 months)

Photo:  Hemmings House Pictures/ Mark Hemmings Dr. Jane Walsh

Getting Connected:

According to Jane, the first time she met me I was wearing a bumble bee costume.  For her part, she was a clad in a chef’s costume.  It was Halloween 2001, the band ‘The Organizers’ was playing live in my living room, and Jane Walsh was one of the 120 guests who came to the party.  We didn’t see other again for the better part of a decade.  Then, on  March 19th 2011, I received a cryptic email with the following subject line:  “omg I am starting my own business.”  Turns out that, in the intervening 10 years, Jane had become a Doctor of Psychology and, until recently, had been working for a small private firm.  Now she’d decided to take the plunge to go out on her own, to be her own boss.  “Did I know of anyone who could help with her branding and interior design needs?” was how the email’s central question was phrased.

Certain clients you just connect with.  There are those signal moments in a conversation where it’s clear your and someone else’s design stars are in sympathetic alignment.  For Jane and me, aside from the personal connections with mutual friends (Rachelle and Shannon), it was the discovery we both had a fondness for the Griffin & Sabine books by Nik Bantock, and, not incidentally, a very strong connection to Raymond Martin’s paintings.  Martin is also a child psychologist and Jane had admired his art for years.  Robert and I have several of his pieces, the largest of which is the wedding gift we gave to each other.


Photo of Globe and Mail article in Design Trends section, April 9. 2011 – Jane’s inspiration for her new space to yet be defined.

By way of outlining her design sensibilities, Jane gave me one tear sheet from a Globe and Mail lifestyle article she was particularly drawn to and simply said “Go to town.”  I’m not sure if I ever made it to town, but what follows, in pictures and prose, is a condensed version of what two women who love design came up with over the course of a project that began in March with the search for a promising office space and ended, a few days ago, with a photo session of the finished design with Mark Hemmings of Hemming House Pictures.


Above:  The palate for Jane’s branding.

The Inspiration:

The inspiration for the logo came from “Spirograph,” the geometric toy that Jane and I both knew from childhood.  I was determined when presenting creative to Jane that I not offer her the often over-used ‘psychologist’ graphics involving the brain.  Apart from its manifest graphic strength, the idea of spirograph seemed a natural to me in that, with its various complex gears and shapes, it spoke to me of how complex entities can have both a discrete life and yet can fit into one another to create a suggestive pattern.  In addition, I wanted to try to create an immediate sense of ‘modern’ and tastefulness around the idea of a Psychology Centre.

Above: The final logo for Jane’s Psychology Centre.  Special thanks to Gillian Goldie for collaborating with me on implementing these ideas.

Above: Jane’s business card.


Jane and I went to several locations within the city to find the perfect office for her new practice.  When we first walked into the office space, which Jane eventually chose, we were both under – and overwhelmed.  It was clear that, while the space had real promise, it needed a substantial makeover.  What struck me immediately was the fact that the reception/waiting area was the largest space in the entire office complex, and that it enjoyed the only significant source of natural light. Moving deeper into the complex of rooms, you discovered many several small examination rooms, complete with shudder-inducing ‘stirrups’ and sinks.  At the far end of the space was the actual Dr’s office with a small window, a mess of papers, boxes, and a casually arranged scheme of tired office furniture.

These five pictures pretty much sum it up in terms of getting a ‘feel for the place’..(see the gallery below for all the ‘before’ pics.)

For starters, I suggested to Jane that we needed to relocate her (the Dr’s) office to the space now occupied by the front reception area so that she would have the best light and space for working.  Although it was essential to have a warm and comfortable space for Jane’s clients, in my mind it was even more crucial to ensure that her office was a space she would be happy to spend 8 to 10 hours at day in. Although not entirely sure of the rightness of my vision, Jane trusted me and let me go to work.

With the much-appreciated assistance of the contractor, John Daeres, his sister Litsa, and their dad, Paul, we started in to make this vision a reality.  We tore down three small walls to create a welcoming entrance and hallway into the centre of the office where the receptionist area would now be, and added a wall and a doorway into the space that used to be reception.  All the walls were painted out white by my favourite painter, Tom Walker and his trusty sidekick Steve Robichaud.  With the help of a fabulous team, the SJ Psychology Centre was born.

A detailed overview of before pics below.

AFTER: (please click on pics for larger resolution)

Photo:  Hemmings House Pictures/ Mark Hemmings – The new reception area used to be two examination rooms with a door between the two.  With the wall down, I designed the space to house a custom-built filing cabinets, cupboards, and a reception desk, all custom built by Christoph Malinowski of CM Woodcraft.

Above: Painting by Raymond Martin ” Le Feu volant” | Peter Buckland Gallery

Photo: Hemmings House Pictures/Mark Hemmings  Left:  Sayl Chair by Yves Béhar for Herman Miller  | Chandler Sales, Custom reception desk by CM Woodcraft, Yellow side table:  PC/Superstore Delano Chair by Gus*Modern | TUCK Studio, Krummi Bird Hanger by  INGIBJÖRG HANNA| TUCK Studio

Photo: Hemmings House Pictures/Mark Hemmings Above:  Aqua side table:  PC/Superstore  Jane Love Seat by Gus*Modern | TUCK Studio, Stanley Coffee Table by Gus* Modern | TUCK Studio, Painting:  Raymond Martin “Bulbes en Fleur” | Peter Buckland Gallery

Photo: Hemmings House Pictures/Mark Hemmings – The Dr. herself relaxing in her waiting room. Boots by Mizz Mooz | Urban Shoe Myth, Pants and sweater | the GAP, necklace | Je Suis Prest.

Photo: Hemmings House Pictures/Mark Hemmings – Jane and her colleague’s business cards, close up.

Photo: Hemmings House Pictures/Mark Hemmings – This kitchen used to be another examination room.  We replaced the countertop and switched out the hardware. And, of course, redid the walls in a fresh gallery white paint! Painting:  Raymond Martin “le Phenix sort feu” | Peter Buckland Gallery,  Tripod Table | West Elm, Karim Rashid’s Oh Chair for Umbra | Decor8 (garbage can also from Decor8), “Laululinnut” tea towel by kauniste finland | TUCK Studio  Cobalt Ceramic Platter  Darren Emenau | MNO Pottery

Photos: Hemmings House Pictures/Mark Hemmings – Above left: Nokka Oil and Vinegar Set by Anna Palomaa | Mjolk, Dried Hydrangea from Jane’s mom and neighbor.  Right.  Jane reading on her lunch hour.

Photo:  Hemmings House Pictures/Mark Hemmings – This used to be the back office of the previous physician.  It now acts as an office for Jane’s two colleagues, Don and Paul, and their clients.  Iranian Rug | Tim Isaac Antiques, Sparrow Glidders (x2) and Ottoman by Gus* Modern | TUCK Studio, Tree Stump | West Elm, Pillow:  Henny | IKEA, Bookshelves Hemnes | IKEA, Lamp:  IKEA STOCKHOLM,  Painting:  Raymond Martin “the Secretary”  | Peter Buckland Gallery

Photo: Hemmings House Pictures/Mark Hemmings Desk Unit – Haven Series; Desk, Corner Square Bookcase + Tower | Chandler Sales, Sayl Chair by Yves Béhar for Herman Miller | Chandler Sales

Photo: Hemmings House Pictures/ Mark Hemmings.  This hallway used to be dreary (see before pic above).  We painted the feature wall on the right the same color as the pantone blue in her branding.  We then switched out the bottom trim from black to white and added a custom fit runner that is 33 feet long.  Runner from B+N Flooring, Painting:  Raymond Martin “Le famille renard” | Peter Buckland

Photo: Hemmings House Pictures/ Mark Hemmings – Jane’s own sanctuary, not only for her clients, but for her as well.  (The aptly-named) Jane Bi-Sectional Couch by Gus* Modern | Tuck Studio, Floor Lamp | IKEA, DRAKE Coffee Table (Zebrano) by Gus* Modern | TUCK Studio, Pillows (White and Pink | IKEA) (Whale and yellow | West Elm) Painting:  Raymond Martin “On the Road” | Peter Buckland Gallery, Wall covering:  Yellow Metallic Damask | Home Depot

Photo: Hemmings House Pictures/ Mark Hemmings  Also shown in this picture: GT ROCKER (Clementine) by Gus* Modern | TUCK Studio, Wall Unit (Hemnes) IKEA, Custom Drapes | Terra Verde, Levolor Curtain Rod | Home Depot, (Desk will be detailed further down)

Photo: Hemmings House Pictures/ Mark Hemmings  I try to resist the temptation to editorialize too much on photos, but I have to say this one is my favourite.  The way Mark captured the metallic sheen on the wall, as well as the fact that Jane finds herself in the ‘reverse’ role sitting on the proverbial couch, is so effective!  It takes courage to go down the entrepreneurial road alone and there is something about this pic that at once captures both Jane’s strength and her vulnerability.  And by the way, kudos to anyone who can make an orange rocking chair work in their office!

Photo: Hemmings House Pictures/ Mark Hemmings – As Jane’s office has to facilitate several functions, the choice of proper furniture was key for not only comfort but also layout.  Jane does a lot of client testing at this desk (it’s called “neuropsychological assessment”; i.e., assessing various brain functions like memory and concentration in individuals for whom there is a question of neurological disorder/disease).  (Interesting note:  Dr. Walsh also does neuropsychological testing for the Saint John Sea Dogs concussion management program).  And because there are several pieces of large furniture in this one room it was important to not feel cramped.  Thus, nothing could be more practical and aesthetically pleasing than Herman Miller:  Desk, Overhead Storage (with opal frosted finish), Lateral Filing System and Lateral Filing Cabinet (free stand) with seat.  | Chandler Sales, SAYL chair by Yves Béhar for Herman Miller also | Chandler Sales, IKEA, Lamp: IKEA STOCKHOLM

Photo: Hemmings House Pictures/ Mark Hemmings  Shelving credit:  Left Wooden Burl Maurice Gamblin | Handworks,  Calendar | Jessica Doyle, Pottery grouping | Tim Isaac Antiques, Painting  Raymond Martin | Peter Buckland Gallery  (My thank you gift to Jane for hiring me.)

To see the entire Picture gallery visit below:

The Photographer:

Photo:  Judith Mackin – A very special thanks to Mark Hemmings (photographer) and Nick Leblanc for making this photo shoot so special.

Please visit Hemmings House Pictures to view other photography, films, and documentaries this talented team have produced.

Dr. Jane Walsh’s hair and makeup by Elizabeth’s Hair Studio, Saint John NB

Thank you for reading, and as always, love to hear your feedback.

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