WHEN DR. NNEKA DAVIS decided to renovate her 3,600-square-foot pediatric dental practice in Maryland’s Baltimore County, she knew it had to become fun and bright.
Her previous space was “just plain drab,” she says—a muddle of muted dark browns and greens. Today, though, the reworked office of The Kid’s Dentist is decked out in an eye-popping yet thoroughly contemporary blue, green and orange color scheme, with a variety of gadgets to attract children throughout.
Benco Dental senior interior designer Amanda Griffith spearheaded the redesign. “She listened to everything I said; she really brought it to life,” says Dr. Davis, who grew up in the Bahamas and wanted to create a warm, welcoming space for her young patients. A highlight of the reception area—which is double the size of her old one and bedecked in a riot of funky colors and patterns on the walls, furniture and flooring—is the video-game area in one corner. There are three easily cleaned touchscreens that need no controller (extra sanitary points), each fronted by a chair that looks like a little dog. “I wish I had the opportunity as a kid to go into a dental office and jump on an orange, green or white puppy and play a game,” Dr. Davis says gleefully.
DR. NNEKA DAVIS’S Repurposing Tips
Understand your plan and the scope of the work needed to complete the project. Ultimately, you’re responsible for making sure all the details get done. Don’t think the contractors will get everything correct. During construction, I checked in almost every day. I caught so many mistakes early, which could have cost a lot to correct later.”
The timing of the renovation, which began in late 2019, turned out to be optimal, as Dr. Davis was able to incorporate new considerations of import—social distancing and stricter sanitation guidelines, for instance—into the design. “We were already renovating when Covid hit, so we had to be thoughtful about that,” she says. The modernized practice now has OSO-Pure air purifiers, chairside ADS extraoral suction systems, two sterilization areas and a washer and dryer so employees don’t have to wear their apparel home at the end of the day. “I wanted patients and staff to feel comfortable,” Dr. Davis says. “Put simply, I didn’t want anyone to get the virus on my clock.”
Regardless of its timing, though, the coronavirus has burdened Dr. Davis as much as any medical professional. “Pre-Covid, I would not wear a mask during my new-patient visits,” she says. “[Kids] want to see you smile—they feed on your expressions and energy.” Now she wears hair and shoe coverings, a gown, a shield and an N95 mask, as does her staff. To compensate within this whimsical, cheery space, they keep things light. “We still do fun stuff, like wearing a crown or a unicorn horn.”
The rework has been a big hit with Dr. Davis’s young charges and moms and dads alike. “The parents are excited, the kids are excited,” she says. “I know we did it right when people open the door and think they’re in the wrong place because it doesn’t look like a dental office.”