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Six months ago I started my favorite design project of 2016.

Canyon Manor, located in Novato, California, is a licensed, live-in and locked 24 hour Mental Health Rehabilitation Center with open access to a large fenced back yard area to which clients have free access during the day.

The challenge was to transform a 30 year-old outdated design into an emotionally uplifting, soothing and healing environment for everyone.

I admit the first time I visited the facility I found it challenging to be there. The walls were painted a darkish eraser pink/peach that made me feel a bit queasy.

At the same time, my creative mind and heart were dancing like Whirling Dervishes as I imagined the new design possibilities. (See image below.)


The next time I visited the space, the new paint project was well under way.

Here’s a quick pic of the nurses station after the walls and ceiling were painted. (sorry I don’t have a before photo… but think dark pencil eraser pukey pink.)


The space went from feeling dark and depressing to fresh and happy.

At my next visit, that pukey feeling in my gut I mentioned earlier had vanished and was replaced with a lightness that made my shoulders relax two inches.

The next step was to select nature art from Portland-based photographer Peter Blanchard and California-based Daniel Ambrosi.

Evidence-based art has been proven to help patients heal faster, resulting in early hospital releases.

Nature art has been shown to reduce fear, anxiety and depression and the reliance on pain medications. Instead, patients report feeling more optimistic, hopeful and euphoric when nature art is nearby.

Over forty nature art prints on metal were selected for the facility at Canyon Manor.

Here’s a quick peak:



Metal art prints can be disinfected daily with harsh chemicals (required by law) without damaging the print. It was the perfect option.

While I was visiting the site towards the end of the project, a client of the facility came right up to me and without saying a word placed her hands in prayer and bowed. 

It was a humbling moment and confirmation of the reason why I love this work.

Later, my client, Richard Evatz, the Executive Director at Canyon Manor shared this:

“In the thirty years I’ve worked here, this is the very first time there has been an overall consensus among staff and clients on how much everyone loves the new wall colors and artwork.

Clients stop me in the hallway with comments like, “I love the artwork. The images help me find my place in the Universe” and point out their favorites.

Others have shared how our large nature-art photography throughout the facility is a portal into very peaceful natural spaces.

Our staff reports the new artwork is a positive distraction for clients seeking to find relief from what’s going on around them and how good it feels to be in the space.”

My big message to you today?

You don’t have to blow out walls and ceilings to create a patient-centered space that makes your heart sing every time you walk through the door. Sometimes all it takes is a new color and some new evidence-based art.

Get the help you need to start redesigning your wellness or healthcare space today:

With love and my hands in prayer mudra,