Published on June 18, 2019

Is there anyone who doesn’t dread going to the dentist? All those metal tools are the stuff of nightmares, not to mention the fluorescent-lit halls, weird artwork, and purgatory-like waiting rooms. Most of us would never equate these clinical spaces with calm, let alone visual, inspiration. But at Tooth Shop, a new dentist’s office in downtown Los Angeles, you’ll arrive for an annual checkup and leave with decorating ideas.

Given there’s no existing guidebook on “chic dentist office design,” interior designer Max Humphrey improvised, tapping into his residential design background for ideas. The process turned out to be surprisingly pain-free. “It was fun,” says Humphrey. “If somebody asked me to design a normal dentist’s office, I don’t think I’d be able to do it.”

Unwelcoming, sterile, and other attributes commonly used to describe the dentist’s need not apply. Modern and graphic, on the other hand? Tooth Shop has those down pat. With no shortage of fun details, this office has convinced us cavities might not be so bad after all. Read on for our three favorite design moments.

The reception area that feels more like an under-the-radar coffeehouse

The design is based on one simple question: Where do people like to hang out? “Some of the initial inspiration came from coffee shops and bars in Sweden,” says Humphrey. The furniture in the waiting room is a fitting mix of Hay and Muuto pieces, while the reception desk’s clean lines and pale blue Ann Sacks tiles drive home the simple, Nordic aesthetic.

“If somebody asked me to design a normal dentist’s office, I don’t think I’d be able to do it.”

The melodic murals

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Photo by Jenna Peffley

Lyrics from The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face” on the walls underscore Tooth Shop’s good vibes. The cheeky mural is yet another reminder to patients that it’s okay to break out a smile or even chat with your doctor about things other than procedures. “There are a lot more songs that are appropriate for a dentist’s office than you would think,” says Humphrey, laughing. Frank Ocean’s “Novacane” was another hot contender.

“There are a lot more songs that are appropriate for a dentist’s office than you would think.”

“People always say design is in the details, but I think it’s all about the initial big impression, too. I wanted people to walk in and kind of get hit over the head with cool design,” he adds. The lighthearted addition was just what this office needed. Artist Evelyn Leigh of The Painted Line created each of the installations to match Tooth Shop’s brand colors.

The colorful gallery wall

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Photo by Jenna Peffley

In place of stuffy stock prints, you’ll find large-scale photographs and original illustrations from Blu Dot and Society6 scattered along floating picture ledges. The hints of reds, yellows, and pinks electrify the white walls. When the sliding barn door to the consultation room is left open, a sign reading “Every Day Beautiful” is hard to miss. “It’s a focal point,” says Humphrey. “You see that immediately when you walk in.”

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