We recently assisted a drug and alcohol treatment center in a prime location in Los Angeles. Despite the great location and beautiful views, their potential customers were going elsewhere after they toured the property. Of their 20 available beds, only 6 of them were filled when we were hired. The client gave us a budget of $100k to spruce up this large property. By the time we completed the work a few months later, the beds were full. Considering how much clients pay to stay at rehab facilities, the client’s investment was money well spent, and they’re now talking about starting a second phase.

The property needed a ton of work, so the biggest challenge was determining where and how to spend the $100k to get the most impact. Typical upgrades include landscaping work, new furniture, new paint, building repairs, light fixture replacements, minor remodels to create more extra bedrooms, and new artwork, rugs, and other décor. The first impression of the property is an important place to spend some money, whether it’s the front gate or the front entry of the house or houses. New landscaping at these areas is almost always needed. It’s important to have a good gardener that will maintain the landscaping, however. Landscaping is expensive relative to other upgrades. To offset that, one of the least expensive ways to enhance a property is with new furniture and décor. Even if there are deficiencies in the buildings, such as cracks in the wall, if the décor is beautiful, those deficiencies aren’t noticeable. For rehab centers, all the décor must be non-breakable, so no glass or ceramic items should be used. Décor made of other materials should not have sharp corners or ends or be easily used to hurt oneself or someone else. Even soap dispensers should be the automatic type that don’t have a plastic tube that is sharp at the bottom. Guests in rehab facilities are not always emotionally stable, and suicide attempts and/or fits of rage do occasionally occur, so the environment should be as safe as possible. Once the budget is approved by the client, we select products and materials, install the items, and oversee our contractors in completing the work.

The overall feel of a treatment facility should be calming. Ideally, we almost want guests to feel as if they’re on vacation, because they’re spending a huge amount of money to be there. We like to offer private spaces indoor and outdoors for internal reflection, as well as flexible furniture arrangements for larger groups to gather. We approach the design of treatment centers much the same way as we do many of our resort projects. We want guests to feel at home, secure, relaxed, and comfortable.