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A Scientific Method

Although at first glance, the Inova Fairfax Hospital physicians' lounge may appear to be a renovation, DAYLA NELLIGAN-BAROTTI of INTERIORS BY DESIGN conducted extensive research to create a customized, uber-functional space.


Dayla visited the site and gathered information over several weeks before presenting design. Through direct observation, she gained insight into guest behavior that she could never have obtained solely through an interview with her hospital contact. She noticed that nine out of ten people used the room primarily to make coffee or tea. Because those appliances were located directly inside the door, a congested crowd often impeded entry into the area. Also, waste receptacles were positioned across the room from the appliances causing coffee and tea drinkers to spill sugar from wrappers and stirrers along the floor on their way to the trash can. In addition to her behavioral studies, Dayla formed an ad hoc advisory group of several doctors and nurses who had inquired about her presence in the room.

Dayla chose to create zones in the lounge for mail, coffee bar, food prep and seating. She stationed the microwaves close to the refrigerator for the “brown baggers.” She eliminated junk drawers and designated storage that served the defined zones. By moving the microwaves to wall casework and the supplies to drawers, she cleared the counter space for food and drink production. Placing doors on the mail sorters was another strategy in maintaining tidiness. Frosted acrylic fronts protect privacy while still allowing the physicians limited view to their mail slots as they enter the lounge. She also speced a continuous toe kick around the garbage can which by regulation must sit on the floor. Hidden behind casework, the receptacle has the look of a cohesive piece of furniture.

Dayla’s frequent calls on Inova fostered further collaboration when the hospital’s Infection Control Committee became involved in the project. She specified an oversized back splash behind the sink to protect dry wall from wet hands reaching for the paper towel dispenser. “The oversized back splash keeps the area neat and clean,” says Dayla. “The Infection Control team had never seen anything like it before.” Laminate drawers are wrapped in continuous white vinyl. She doubled the Corian top on all surfaces – even covering the cut opening for the waste receptacle. ” No plywood can be showing,” says Dayla. “No rings are allowed in the opening.” In brainstorming for custom solutions and in attention to detail for her client, Dayla found a willing advocate with Hamilton. “I worked closely with my Hamilton Rep, Phil Moebus, who provided a high level of comfort from concept through occupancy. I knew if an issue arose, I would receive a quick response that would be seamless to my customer. He really went above and beyond!”

“The oversized back splash keeps the area neat and clean”

Dayla’s collaborative approach and her ability to recognize how the end-users think and move in the space captured the attention of other physician groups at the hospital. Social media documenting the process alerted staff to the project, particularly people who were considering renovation themselves. “They built a Facebook page to show the progression of the renovation. This hospital has a huge campus and people would appear from other departments to view the space,” says Dayla. “I have since been contacted by four other groups within the system to create something similar.” For her next project, Dayla is working with a group of anesthesiologists requesting a 2.0 version of the relaxing and attractive lounge. They want all of the amenities and colorways of this one plus booth seating and a coffee house vibe.

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