For many in the community, the thought of visiting a funeral home carries an emotional stigma, one that has a perception of dreary, morbid places. Dr. Tom McElheny offers modern ideas on making your funeral home setting into a more welcoming, calm, and comfortable environment. It starts with creating an atmosphere that focuses on the comfort of grieving families.
1. Natural or Soft Lighting
The ambiance of a room depends largely on lighting. Be intentional about light sources, ensuring the space feels calm rather than gloomy. Natural sunlight is a mood lifter and is ideal for daytime services. If concerned about privacy, consider using sheer drapes in place of dark, heavy curtains. Artificial lighting should be warm, best accomplished with bulbs that give off a soft white glow. Today’s LED lighting options even offer bulbs that mimic natural light.
2. Neutral Walls and Natural Flooring
Today’s modern funeral homes should feel like walking into a sanctuary. The environment can reflect one of tranquility through light, neutral paint colors in calming tones found in nature like sage, taupe, and eggshell. Neutral-toned carpet or flooring made of bamboo or hardwood also help to bring a warm feeling to the space.
3. Natural Decorator Accents
Elements found in nature are soothing and help us feel grounded. Incorporating interior features like stacked stones, a small water fountain, or plants into the décor is easy and affordable. Plants, like succulents, provide oxygen, are easy to maintain, and brighten up a room with vibrant color.
Consider your outdoor space as well. The healing power of nature is no small thing so consider incorporating an outdoor seating area or a peaceful garden that allows visitors to take in some fresh air as they walk around to quietly reflect.
4. Appeal to All the Senses
One’s visual sense is usually a guest’s first impression, so it is essential to pay attention to the appearance of your funeral home. A clean landscape, well-kept building, and soothing interiors put guests at ease. It allows them to relax and draw on their remaining senses for various levels of calming support.
Outside of lighting, a calming atmosphere is best achieved through sound. The space should incorporate soft music, nature sounds, white noise, or a simple water fountain. You want guests to focus on the ambient sound to achieve tranquility.
Aromatherapy is used in many ways and can be an effective means to help guests feel calm. First, select a fresh and clean scent that isn’t strong or overpowering. Candles are a quick way to add aroma to a room, while a diffuser may offer more control over a scent’s intensity and duration.
Often overlooked, touch has the ability to ground us. Velveteen textures used in the upholstery of a comfortable couch, plush carpeting, or throw pillows provide guests with something tactile, soft, and comforting to touch. Maintain these fabrics with regular cleaning for a safe and enjoyable space.
Consuming food or beverages (in moderation) also provides comfort. For example, offer your guests complimentary tea, coffee, or a light snack to create a hospitable atmosphere.
5. Comfortable Seating
Don’t make the mistake of using furniture that appears too formal. Instead, select inviting and comfortable pieces, like a homey couch or armchairs. Seating should support guests who have difficulty sitting due to a bad back or hip. Imitate the atmosphere of a home’s living room with a few simple yet attractive pieces. Add personal touches like a blanket or decorative throw pillow, which can be moved to create different looks.
Find the best way to utilize the space you have, considering function and appearance. For example, if you have a chapel in your funeral home, use comfortable, ergonomic stacking chairs for additional seating. They are convenient and don’t take up too much storage space.
The right piece of art can provide a calming feeling. For example, a lovely landscape painting offers a great look and connects with nature. On the other hand, you could commission an artist to paint a recognized piece of scenery or a special event that incorporates a sense of community for a more local appeal.
7. Incorporate Technology
When friends or family members can’t attend a service or if space in a viewing room is tight, an audiovisual broadcast is a perfect solution. When incorporating technology equipment placement in interior design, location and furniture placement are vital. Plants and cabinetry should assist in making sure cords, cameras, and sound systems are inconspicuous and positioned to not interfere with services.
8. Create a Space for Young Children
It goes a long way to help place guests at ease by offering a particular play area for younger children. Parents can allow their kids to play without concern that they may disturb others grieving in the viewing area. Stock the room with various toys, books, and appropriately sized tables and chairs.
9. Exterior Grounds and Building
Excellent curb appeal gives a first impression that is imperative for marketing your funeral home to the public. Beyond that, how your building and grounds are laid out and maintained sets the tone for guests as they arrive for services.
- The exterior building says a lot about your business, and you want to have a nice, clean look
- The grounds should feature well-maintained landscaping and sidewalks, steps, and parking areas free of trash and debris
- Make sure your funeral home’s sign is easy-to-read and well lit at night
- Offering ample parking or valet parking if space is limited
- Make sure directions to the building’s entrance is easy to find, notably in bad weather conditions
- The entryway is essential, offer guests a place to hang their coats, check their appearance, or sit when waiting on other guests
Overall, always consider the client’s perspective when designing your funeral home’s interior and exterior spaces. Interior design with an eye for today’s modern atmosphere dispels any stigma guests may have. Toss any elements you wouldn’t consider having in your own home and focus on those elements that create a casual and comfortable environment.
Finally, whatever renovations and furnishings you choose, including the exterior property, make sure they’re easy to clean and maintain with limited staff. This step ensures your entire property will look as nice as possible for visitors.
Dr. Tom McElheny has an MBA and a doctorate in education and serves as CEO of his seating company, ChurchPlaza. ChurchPlaza primarily serves faith-based organizations and provides seating for funeral homes and other industries. He can be reached at ChurchPlaza, Sarasota, Florida, firstname.lastname@example.org, 1-800-927-6775.