Home Design Inspirations Cold Start Brings Boutique Eye Care Experience to Mountain Town

Cold Start Brings Boutique Eye Care Experience to Mountain Town

hallina portner
Dr. Portner

For Hallina Portner, OD, the mountains have always been home. She was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, at 6,000 feet above sea level and grew up in Morgantown, West Virginia, in the midst of the Appalachian Mountains. So when she completed her undergraduate degree and prepared to attend Southern College of Optometry, she knew she’d return to the mountains to bring a boutique eye care experience to patients of her own.

FINDING HER FOOTING

Dr. Portner graduated from SCO in 2017 and moved back to Morgantown to be close to her parents and sister. But in a city with a population of 30,000, it was hard to find a full-time position.

She found work as an associate doctor at a private practice, but it was almost an hour from home. She spent six years making the commute until she bought a new home in 2023. She assigned her realtor the task of finding a place to open a practice of her own. While doing research on locations, Dr. Portner realized that the community of Cheat Lake—just five minutes from her new abode—only had one optometrist.

Dr. Portner with x (left) and x (right)
Dr. Portner with receptionist Leslie Quizenbeury (left) and lead optician and office manager Paige Sullenberger (right)

“There were no high-end optical shops in the area, and the one OD in the area has been in practice for quite a while,” Dr. Portner says. “I wanted to bring something new to the area and offer full-scope optometry with a modern feel.”

STARTING FRESH

Dr. Portner and her realtor found a potential location in the fall of 2023. The 1,500-square-foot office was in a newer plaza just off the interstate. It hadn’t yet been occupied, “meaning no demolition work. We could get straight to designing and planning.” Plus, the location “neighbors a few ‘frequent flyer’ businesses, including a salon, a coffee shop, a gym and a large Italian restaurant. We get a lot of foot traffic here.”

She signed the lease in November 2023. Cheat Lake Eye Care now offers comprehensive care, dry eye services, eye disease management, an optical boutique and emergency care.

Dr. Portner in the optical with her German Shepherd, Berkley
Dr. Portner in the optical with her German Shepherd, Berkley

To come up with the design, Dr. Portner created a mood board on Pinterest and used a designer through iCare Advisors. She decided on neutral, earthy colors with standout funky features throughout the practice.

a shoutout from dr portner

Luxury vinyl plank flooring runs in a herringbone pattern throughout the entirety of the space, which she says was a great choice as contractors began to bring in heavy equipment. “It’s so durable—there wasn’t a scratch after moving in palettes upon palettes of materials.”

seating in the optical
Optical seating

Each room throughout the practice is painted a varying but compatible neutral shade, from pearly gray to off-white. To add height to the space, she opted to leave the ceiling in the optical area open and spray it white, reflecting the natural light from the floor-to-ceiling front windows and brightening the space.

a shot of the optical showing the high cielings

There is a pretest room, a break room and an in-house lab. One exam lane is fully equipped with another ready to equip when needed. Dr. Portner says she wanted the best equipment, not just for her patients but to make her days easier, too. Her Topcon system with digital lensmeter and automated refraction system all “talk” to each other. “I’ve never had an automated refractor before,” she says. “It’s such a huge difference.”

the exam room

She also has an Optos retinal imaging system and a Topcon Myah optical biometer and corneal topographer to help with myopia management. She brought in the Olleyes virtual reality platform for visual field testing and more.  In the optical, opticians can take measurements and enhance patient education with the OptiKam.

a pretest room

The gold sconces in the optical space are straight from her Pinterest board, and she found her optical furniture and mirrors on Wayfair, Ikea and Amazon. She purchased Ikea products to use for dispensing tables, frame boards and storage cabinets. The green chairs at each dispensing table are a faux leather that is both comfortable and easy to clean. “I wanted to keep things light, bright and simple,” she says. The front desk features a teal front with a white top. The green cabinetry continues into the exam lanes as well, with modern gold and black features both on the cabinetry and in the rooms.

a shot of the optical try on space

When it came to the office restroom, Dr. Portner had a bit of fun with the design. Vertical subway tiles line the bottom half of the walls while a navy blue and gold textured wallpaper brings the eye up.  The contact lens room also has a feature wall with floor-to-ceiling glass tile and gold grout. Bar seating creates a comfortable environment for insertion and removal instructions, and the cabinetry allows for all sets to be hidden.

the contact lens room

GET THE LOOK

Front desk paint: Country Squire, Sherwin-Williams

Optical walls: Decorator’s White, Benjamin Moore

Accent walls: Silverplate, Sherwin-Williams

the bathroom wall
The restroom wall design

A START-UP WITH SUPPORT

the dog berkley modeling shades
Berkley

Dr. Portner credits her mom for helping her through the process. She lives just down the road from the practice and has been a constant rock, Dr. Portner says. “She runs errands, grabs food and coffee and helped me scrub the office from top to bottom. Plus, she’s often on speed dial and putting out fires.”

Dr. Portner has also found endless support and love from her German Shepherd, Berkley.  “He is my stress relief,” she says. “This practice has become his second home. He’s such a love bug—he will definitely be our mascot.”

Now, just a few months after opening day, Cheat Lake Eye Care is open six days a week and offers 24-hour emergency care. Dr. Portner says the nearby business owners have been welcoming, and as business continues to grow, she looks forward to giving back to her community.

 

Find Dr. Portner and Cheat Lake Eye Care online:

Cheatlakeeyecare.com

Facebook: Cheat Lake Eye Care

Instagram @cheatlakeeyecare

 

See other design inspiration stories here.


Would you like to share your remodel/relocation/new practice or office refresh story with WO readers? Email us here.

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