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From Home Furnishing Business

Glamour to Go




Merchandising and showroom display requires much more than being able to plop furniture in a vignette and accessorize for a pretty look.

There a science behind the a merchandising strategy that requires much thought and planning. Much like the process an interior designer takes creates a beautiful room or home, showroom design requires the same precision on a much larger scale.

Think accessories, lighting and accents. Consider implementing a bit of humor and other surprises for a consumer-stopping tool.

Jena Hall, president of Jena Hall Designs, suggests retailers evaluate their strategy and determine their approach as to whether they interested in presenting product by category or lifestyle settings. Hall recommends the higher the price point goes the more likely it is that product should be showcased in lifestyle vignettes.

“Creating many mini-vignettes doesn’t require walls and they don’t require construction to be successful,” she said. “They do require a vehicle that allows the eye to come to a resting point so that the consumer can focus on the entire story.”

Hall suggests a hanging mirror or piece of art to break up the sight line. Other options include painting a wall a bright color for a bit of pop or simple clean drapery panel.

Other suggestions include wallpaper or expansive murals. “You can pick those up at Ikea and they don’t have to be custom painted,” she said. “They become the wall so that the eye stops.”

Hall is an advocate of themes and suggested using a coastal or urban theme depending on a retailer’s target consumer. At the Home Inspirations Thomasville store, a cityscape was used to highlight the feel of an urban loft.

“Retailers need to figure out how to emulate the features they see in interior design magazines,” she said, adding that done right, the displays are easily changeable to keep the store looking fresh.

The most inexpensive freshening up for a retailer to make comes from paint. Hall points out that many retailers are afraid of color for fear of getting it wrong. “A gallon of paint is cheap, and it’s easy to change,” she points out.

Grabbing the consumer is key in boosting sales, and the trick in grabbing them is through a consistent style teamed with consistent images and philosophy of design, Hall said.

“It is helpful to the consumer to create a vision for them,” she said. “We want them to be excited about furniture, and the only way to do that is to make a powerful visual statement.

“Encourage them to by the sofa plus the rug, plus the lamp,” Hall said. “There’s nothing new about this. It’s consistency. If I go into Anthropologie, I know exactly what I’m going to find every time.”

Hall encourages retailers to find their point of view—point of view in design philosophy, point of view in price point and vision. Once found, it’s imperative they stick with it and remain true. Otherwise, the message gets cluttered, and consumers no longer understand the vision.


Color Pop

Like Hall, Clive Daniel’s Kris Kolar is an advocate of adding color to liven up the joint. In the Naples, Fla., showroom, much of the sofas are white or very light. They live among walls painted in vivid colors, rugs in on-trend hues and pillows that add the perfect splash of panache.

“Those splashes of color are not only eye-catching, but give consumers the impression in our second-home market that it’s easy to play with color without breaking the bank,” she said.

Connie Post of  Affordable Designs by Connie Post said the sea of brown, taupe and beige on furniture retail floors must be jazzed up. “I know retailers will do 6 percent of their business in neutrals and sage, but there has to be pops of color,” she said. “Otherwise, it’s boring.”

Cardi’s Furniture & Matress makes a point that every sofa vignette adjacent to its store’s main aisles and the circle are color coordinated and highlighted with color.


A Fresh Start

With the New Year and resolutions, Post encourages retailers to freshen up throughout the store. Now that the holiday decorations and displays have been packed away, it’s time for a new beginning.

Bedroom vignettes should be dressed with fresh sheets, beautiful, sumptuous comforters and fluffy pillows. Make sure they’re clean, Post said, adding that revamping the beds could add to sales.

“Go to HomeGoods or Target and pick up a complete duvet set,” she said. “Stuff that old, outdated comforter in the duvet for a completely new, fresh look. For less than $100, they can have a whole new look.”

Memorable focal points can leave a big impact with consumers, she said, adding that if you can’t afford to redo the entire department, invest in the most visible settings.

Post said consumers are looking for a little glamour and the truly want to be woed.

“Glam it up,” she said. “I’m talking about getting in her head and giving her an amazing experience in product presentation. There are girly girls, country girls, city girls and beach girls. Give them a presentation that speaks to someone’s heart. There should b moments for glam throughout the store. Give someone a reason to make a change. It’s about adding some details to your essentials. These are some little things that can be added for panache.


Marry Marketing with Display

An aspect of showroom design that is often overlooked is the marketing that generates consumer traffic into the store. Hall said the integration from the outside marketing to match what is happening on the showroom floor is crucial to setting the right tone.

“Integrate merchandising with your marketing,” she said. “It’s very important that the font is consistent at every touch point.”


Martin Roberts, principal of Martin Roberts Design has created a formula to help retailers determine how much space to allocate to various categories. More on the merchandising matrix can be found in Roberts’ column on page 54.

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