Call it superficial but appearances count and your office reception is the first point-of-contact for visitors and staff. This space should convey your brand and set standards. It also has a role to play in making people feel safe, secure and welcome.

If you’re planning a new office reception, you’ve come to the right place. Our guide is crammed full of advice and ideas. Learn why new business and talent might walk straight back out the door if your reception isn’t up to scratch; find out how to make a statement via interior design and discover what the office reception of the near future might look like.

Why A Well Designed Office Reception Area Is So Important

If you’re embarking on a wholesale office refurb, don’t skimp when it comes to your front-of-house. Here’s why a well-designed office reception is important:-

You only get one chance to make a first impression

From potential new business partners to people coming in for interviews, visitors will make a snap judgement about your company the moment they step foot inside – and it’s not as if you can ask them to go away and come back once you’ve made improvements. Sometimes the impression given by your office reception is enough to sway decisions, such as accepting a job offer or signing a contract.

Sets the tone of your business

Closely linked to first impressions, your office reception will set the tone for the rest of your workplace and your business. If your reception area is dark, cramped and full of worn-out furniture, visitors may assume the rest of your office is like this – even if it isn’t. Worse still, a shabby office reception may suggest the company is run in a similar way – without care or investment.

A reception buys you time

It’s not a glamourous concept but an office reception or front of house acts as a holding pen. It provides a place where guests can wait until the person they are meeting is ready to see them. This is especially important if the guest arrives early or turns up unannounced.

Provides visitor management & security

An office reception plays a crucial role in safety and security, especially if the reception is staffed. Details can be taken of everyone entering and leaving the building – vital should the workplace need evacuating – while an office reception provides a safe buffer between visitors, cold callers and staff.

Reinforces your brand when your office is shut

If you are a retail business along a High Street with a glass façade, your office reception will still be visible after working hours. It is, therefore, important that the aesthetic of your reception reflects your brand so passers-by can gauge the calibre of your business on a 24/7 basis.

A Great Office Reception Area Depends On Your Business

A solicitor’s office reception will need to feel very different from a social media agency’s front-of-house, so office reception ideas need to stem from the company’s background, culture, brand and values.

While wood panelling and Chesterfield-style sofas may work for one office reception, they may look out of place in a cutting-edge glass building. The choice of materials, fabrics and colours can also have a psychological effect on guests and should be chosen according to the company’s narrative – whether that’s contemporary and modern or traditional and established.

Want To Make A Statement?

Many of the office reception ideas we supply are designed to attract attention and make a statement, so guests go away with a lasting impression. Some design facets we use include:

Wall Art: if your office reception is a blank canvas, you can add character and vibrancy with wall art. Some of our clients have commissioned abstract paintings in their corporate colours, while others inject personality by printing enlarged photos to adhesive vinyl and applying them to walls to create a visual focal point. A perennial favourite is 3D letters spelling out the company name, which are wall mounted and internally illuminated.

Graphics: graphics are an integral part of an office reception. At one end of the spectrum you have a company logo and motto, which can be applied pretty much to any surface, for instance, while at the other end you have safety and wayfinding graphics.

Statement lighting: office receptions are one area where you can really go to town with lighting. The eye can be drawn by a statement chandelier pendant or LEDs – the latter of which can illuminate reception counters and bulk heads to dramatic effect.

Unique accessories & furniture: some of our most impactful office receptions have involved bespoke items. Many have featured a custom-designed reception desks or one-of-a-kind items of furniture.

Is Light And Bright The Way To Go For Your Reception?

Unless you are a branch of Hollister – a clothing brand renowned for keeping its retail shops dimly lit – an office reception should be light so guests can find their way with ease.

That doesn’t mean you can’t convey personality or create an atmosphere in an office reception. LED rope lights – especially when they're coloured – can create a modern, slightly futuristic look. Even a bank of LCD screens forming a media wall will add brightness to an office reception, while also allowing you to show promotional videos. If you’re intent on making a design statement, a cluster of ceiling-hung pendants or exposed filament bulbs can add a warm, almost magical glow.

What Type Of Furniture Is Needed?

A high-traffic area, such as an office reception, needs durable, hard-wearing furniture and seating is a must (we’ll cover this in our next point). You may like to add a side or coffee table to your office reception – ideal if you offer guests drinks or would like to display promotional materials. We also include refreshment stations in many of our commercial design solutions, housing a drinks fridge, a storage cupboard and a coffee machine.

Road Test Your Seating

Seating falls into two main categories: hard and soft. The benefit of hard seating is it can be wiped down and will probably last a lifetime. The downside is it can feel clinical – ideal if you’re a health or beauty practitioner – and uncomfortable too. Soft seating, such as sofas and squishy chairs – are ideal if you’re wanting to create a more luxurious office reception. We advise choosing fabrics wisely – look out for commercial-grade upholstery fabric with a stain guard or durable leather that tends to look better with age.

Many of our office reception design ideas, however, call for more statement seats. These could be Le Corbusier-inspired armchairs, vintage Vitra Eames lounge chairs or Philipe Starck for Kartell Louis ghost chairs.

The good news is options for both hard and soft seating are virtually unlimited. There are several modular options available so arrangements can be made to suit the space, while plastics and fabrics are available in a mind-boggling range of colours and patterns, making brand matching an easy job.

Reception Area Design For The Future

We have embraced technology and automation in almost every part of daily life, and this is spilling over in reception areas too. While nothing can beat a warm face-to-face welcome, tech is complementing the human touch.

Self-check ins are some of the most-commonly requested office reception ideas. These mounted screens with back-room software can take photos, check ID, capture details – such as a name and vehicle registration number - and print ID cards. Although they can take the place of a receptionist, they are more commonly used in tandem with a human, freeing the employee to deal with more pressing matters. MPL often mounts self-check in screens on reception counters.

Host stations and podiums are other office reception ideas that feel a little futuristic but are increasingly part of our immediate plans. These lectern-style desks are useful when space is limited, or if the client would prefer to use more of the floor space for guest seating and meeting areas. If this style appeals, ensure power and data supplies are positioned to avoid trailing cables.

Should You Play Music In Your Office Reception

Playing music in an office reception is a personal matter. If you’re trying to convey a young, vibrant image, you may wish to tune a wall-mounted screen to a radio station or music channel. More traditional ‘piped’ music – sometimes known as muzak - can soften a space that echoes but we’d recommend a commercial audio system with integrated ceiling speakers.

Are Indoor Plants A Good Idea?

Almost every office reception can benefit from plants. Not only do they add a splash of colour they are proven to help purify the air and aid the wellbeing of those in their vicinity. We often apply the principles of biophilic design when creating receptions but don’t worry if you’re concerned about the upkeep of any flora and fauna.

There are a number of living moss varieties that draw all the moisture they need from the air – meaning you don’t have to water them – while the authenticity of faux plants has come a long way in recent years. A good balance for an office reception is real living plans at lower levels for ease-of-care and irrigation, living moss feature walls and faux plants above head height. Failing this, vases of flowers never fail to brighten office receptions.


An office reception is your chance to wow guests, set the tone for your brand and create a lasting impression. There’s also a functional layer too and the importance of registering visitors should never be underestimated. Our team is brimming with innovative office reception ideas, so get in touch and plan your office reception layout with our experts.