IN THE FALL of 2019, setting out to open his own practice for the first time in his career, orthodontist Dr. Brice Gilliam was determined that it be entirely new—in concept and execution alike. The Tennessee native found a mere skeleton of a space in a multilevel building in increasingly trendy East Nashville, then got to work bringing his adults-only practice to life within that 2,400-square-foot frame.

“When people think of orthodontics, they typically think of kids and teens,” says the 35-year-old. “We wanted to make a modern space for adults.”

The finished aesthetic reflects that ambition. It’s modern and polished, and every detail was designed with intent to deliver a one-of-a-kind experience. Dr. Brice—“Dr. Gilliam” sounds “too stiff,” he says—chose to keep a small staff size to ensure genuine, personal interactions with each patient. The concrete floor gets warming accents from a variety of large textured rugs, and the prevailing color palette, an austere black and white, is both grounded and invigorated by live plants, wood accents and other natural materials throughout. “It’s clean but not sterile, sparse yet inviting,” the doctor says.

Dr. Brice Gilliam’s Specialty Design Tips

Think about the future. Design a space that will look great for a minimum five to 10 years before you need a refresh. Stay away from super-faddish design elements in permanent surfaces like flooring, tile and cabinets, and stick with something classic. You can use décor—planters, art, pillows and rugs—to make your statement.”

Dr. Brice and his wife, Brooke, plotted out every detail. The mammoth undertaking was a natural step forward for the pair, who designed their home and even some of their friends’ as well. “We knew we needed an office that would not feel dental at all,” Dr. Brice says. “It needed to feel mature, luxurious and aesthetically pleasing. It would be hard to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to do some aesthetic work on you—without an aesthetically pleasing space.’ ”

Nods to the practice’s name and concept abound. A custom three-dimensional E, sculpted in Corian, wraps around the corner of the midnight-black patient coordinator’s desk, and Elevation’s cheeky catchphrase, “Adulting Sucks. Straight Teeth Don’t,” is emblazoned on a wall at the end of the main hallway.

“Our work philosophy is to give people an elevated experience—to exceed expectations, give people what they deserve and give them an absolutely ‘wow’ experience every time they walk in,” Dr. Brice says. “If we give them an office they never knew they wanted, a treatment they didn’t know was an actual option and customer service they never expected would be that good, then we’ve accomplished our goal.”