Home Away From Home: Top Tips for Showrooms that Invite and Inspire

Ikea has definitely cornered the market on this idea. Customers enter the store and are immediately greeted by lifestyle environments showcasing the company’s furniture, décor and accessories. More than that, Ikea’s mini-rooms include art, books, clothes, shoes- all the little details that not only make people feel at home but show them exactly how Ikea products look in a lived-in space.

This is not only a brilliant merchandising technique. It makes customers feel like they’re at home. The top kitchen and bath showrooms in North America are taking this idea and bringing it into the decorative plumbing retail world. With more people shopping online (from the comfort of their homes) than ever, it’s time to break down the boundaries between the retail environment and the home!

Samples, demos everywhere

When a customer comes into a decorative plumbing showroom, whether they’re in the market for a full remodel or a little upgrade, they can be overwhelmed by the number of products on offer.

Imagine a sink display featuring a dozen sinks and as many faucets- it can be difficult to know where to start! More than that, it is a challenge to visualize how a particular product will look in a home environment, especially when you’re standing in front of a faucet wall featuring items in dozens of finishes, price points and styles.

Bender Showroom, faucet wall and sink display
A huge variety of faucets and sinks on display at Bender Showrooms

A wall of tiles. A line-up of toilets. Flooring and countertop samples. Lighting options overhead. It’s a lot to take in!

So how do you break it down for the client? We have worked with several showrooms in North America who use lifestyle graphics, mini-suites, home décor items and even art to inspire creativity in their clients.

These are our top tips for making clients feel at home:

Focus on your mini-suites: even if the space is small, include mini-suites in a few different styles. Research the top kitchen and bath design trends and go from there. Try an all-white bathroom mini-suite with the latest in bathroom cabinetry, or an edgy kitchen display with matte black appliances and mixed metal hardware and accessories.

Mini-suites are the focal point of the showroom, so be sure to place them in strategic spots near the entrance or in the windows.

Functional displays: working faucets and shower features really engage the client. People love demos and it gives them the chance to understand how the products works. That’s always better than bringing something home and finding out you don’t like it!

Be stylish:

Central Arizona Supply Showroom
Central Arizona Supply has a unique style featuring exposed brick walls and colorful artwork on the wall.

Don’t be afraid to take chances with color and design: colorful wallpaper, metallic accents and edgy merchandise. Throw in some towels, a statement mirror, and even plants (a hot kitchen and bath accessory trend) to really complete the look.

GSI Bath Showplace, Doylestown, PA
We love this colorful look created for GSI Bath Showplace in Doylestown, PA (Render by SH Design-Build)

In a kitchen display, small appliances and everyday kitchen items like fruit bowls and cookbooks help clients imagine the potential. Kitchen displays can also include high-end countertops in Caesarstone, terrazzo, concrete or wood (you’ll have the granite and marble samples available too, of course).

Show off the newest and brightest: Full displays let you showcase design elements and products that clients may not be considering as options. Touchless faucets, smart toilets, digital mirrors, unique storage solutions or high-end European products displayed in a familiar environment invite clients to consider new options for their own homes.

Take customers on a style journey: Thalassa (Quebec City) designed three mini-suites featuring style over brand. It allows clients to choose their style (traditional, modern, classic) and explore the available options. A customer may have an idea of what their ‘style’ is, but it’s not always easy to know what products fit that style!

Thalassa, Quebec City, Quebec (EMCO)
Thalassa uses color, style and couches to make clients feel at home. (Render by SH Design-Build)

Get comfortable: sales stations are a must but having a sitting area with cozy couches allows people to have a low-pressure discussion with sales staff. These areas should include tablets or screens to help clients explore the features, finishes and benefits of the products you offer. Tablets can also be loaded with product demos for items not placed in functioning displays.

Do your research: The more you know about your target clientele, the easier it will be to attract them to your showroom. Find out more about who is shopping in your showroom and design around their tastes. Trends vary by city, region and population; for example, if your clientele isn't into the latest in European or Japanese design, offer more traditional products. Millennials flocking to the showroom? Don't skimp on the technology. Baby-boomers? Showcase aging-in-place features like zero-threshold showers and grab handles that double as stylish towel holders.

If you need to make changes to your showroom to offer a better experience for your clients, explore our blog post on Showroom Design.

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SH Design-Build designs, fabricates and installs retail environments and display fixtures.
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