Color-Defining Spaces

By Annette Callari, Allied ASID; CMG

IL_PALAZZO_-_SAN_DIEGO_021_250Several blogs ago, I outlined the top color trends and trend drivers for 2012.  One major development was the fact that consumers have become much more comfortable living with color.  We are consistently exposed to global colors through fashion, the internet, and of course, HGTV.   Given the predictions, it’s pretty exciting to be able to report to you a real-world example of this key color driver.

Il Palazzo is a newly-remodeled, luxury townhome project in downtown San Diego.  Its proximity to Little Italy and its higher-elevation ocean views make this property a stand-out.  But what really adds to the Old World charm is the continental color palette utilized inside and out.  The models I toured were unfurnished, but the courageous use of color more than compensated for no furnishings.  Well-chosen finishes (from floors to countertops to ceilings) gave an ambience of high luxury.  Let’s take a look at some of those finishes and color harmonies to see how they worked their magic.

IL_PALAZZO_-_SAN_DIEGO_013_250KITCHEN – The chef-friendly kitchens featured a transitional design style.  Not quite contemporary and not quite traditional, this design mode walks a fine line.  It’s a hybrid style that is more linear than traditional and appeals to a large segment of the market.  Granite countertops add to the upscale look.  The designer chose stainless steel appliances and achieved a great continuity by adding a metallic tile backsplash.  The colors chosen for kitchen and family room were a warm taupe and vibrant blue/green (Reference color “X-hale” from the 2012-2013 color forecast).

IL_PALAZZO_-_SAN_DIEGO_009_250BATH – The transitional cabinetry was carried into the bathrooms. Flooring for kitchens and baths was Amtico’s LVT, Linear Metallic Steel.  This dramatic floor gave each space a sophisticated look, and the large format tiles (18” x 18”) visually expanded the space.  Just a hint of metallic sparkle in the tiles added an element of luxury.

BEDROOMS – Different shades of taupe were used on walls, soffets, and ceilings. Ceilings were finished with a beautiful crown moulding. The monochromatic use of color added interest and character to each bedroom, without sacrificing the restful feel.  The darkest shade of taupe was used on the ceilings!  Does that shock you just a little?  I hope so, because it was fun and unexpected.

Let’s talk about the exterior color scheme for a moment.  If you’ve travelled to Italy, you  know that their cities are a visual feast of warm, rich colors.  Taking a lesson from the life-loving Italians, the façade of Il Palazzo is an artistic mix of unexpected colors.  (Take a look for yourself at the pictures included in this article.)  Deep and mid-toned violets work in harmony along side a true green, sunny yellow and rusty orange.  Wow!  That combination took guts and the risk paid off. The impact is memorable, and each vibrant color helps define the architecture.

If you have any doubt about color’s power to define spaces, Il Palazzo provides a real-life example.  If you just happen to be a life-long lover of color, design or architecture, downtown San Diego is a field trip well worth taking.  Treat yourself to dinner in Little Italy (just a block away).  Colorful surroundings, authentic Italian cuisine and a glass of crisp Chianti–who could ask for more?

Retailer In The Spotlight – A Makeover Story

Submitted by Annette Callari, Allied ASID; CMG

JB-WOODWARD-SHOWROOM_300We have all seen the fashion make-over shows that take dowdy, non-model types and magically transform them into ingénues.  It’s always amazing to me that hair, make-up and wardrobe can entirely transform a woman.  As a matter of fact, I’ve seen several glamorous stars WITHOUT their makeup, and that, too, is pretty astounding.  Well let’s parlay this make-over phenomenon into how it might relate to the floor covering industry.

If you are a retail store owner or sales professional, you are in the fashion business.  You are regarded as an expert in the very foundation of home interiors.  Floor coverings set the tone for every design.  It isn’t just the products and product knowledge that you have to offer.  It’s also how you present your physical space.  Of course, neat, clean and orderly are a given.  But attention to just a few other guidelines will make a huge difference.

I visited J.B. Woodward Floors in Riverside, California just before Christmas of 2011.  This three generation, family-owned store has been in business since 1961.  Much of their clientele comes by referral after so many years of service, but still, they realize how important it is to stay fresh and current in today’s competitive market.  Kim Wollman and Pam Whittlsey jointly manage the business and are proud to be a long-standing member of the World Floor Covering Association.  Kim let me know they have been members for over 20 years!  She stated how useful the website has been for them from an information standpoint.  Also, Pam’s daughter was a recipient of a WFCA-sponsored scholarship.  Both Kim and Pam felt their liaison with WFCA has added to their business credibility.

JB-WOODWARD--CUSTOM-DISPLAY_300In mid-December, Woodward’s was in the middle of a showroom make-over and used the time between Christmas and New Year’s for the “facelift”.   As is so often the case, their  showroom had become overly packed with too many (non-productive) displays devouring valuable floor space.  The first step was a careful evaluation of the amount of sales each display had generated over the last 6 to 12 months.  That should be the yardstick every retailer uses to decide what stays and what goes.  Woodward’s realized they had to reduce their displays significantly, and they did just that.

JB-WOODWARD-VIGNETTE_300Next, they decided to make good use of their window exposure to showcase cozy vignettes to draw in drive-by customers.  A small piece of furniture (for example a wing chair with an interesting side table and reading lamp) with a beautiful floor covering that can even extend up a faux wall behind the display, will get great attention.  Get creative and colorful and be sure to keep it well lit at night.  It will advertise your business for you after hours.

Owners (sisters-in-law) Kim and Pam then carefully added several new displays to update their product selections.  They didn’t have the luxury of “space” to do that before the remodel plan.  From the newer displays they chose which floor coverings they would install on their floor.  This is a very important decision.  Choose unique, livable products to showcase, and select products in the medium to high price range.  These are the products you want to sell, and for customers who can’t visualize from small samples, seeing them on your floor usually results in higher sales.  If you are questioning: why higher-end products in this economy? I have an answer for you.  Marketing trends validate that remodeling projects are significantly on the upswing.  The baby boomer generation, especially, wants to invest in QUALITY products and plan to follow the “once and done” plan.  They will choose and invest in something they really love with the intention of keeping it long-term.  You can always sell down, but why not start out in the higher price range?  You’ll surprise yourself with what is possible.

JB-WOODWARD-FLOORS_300The next step in this remodel saga was developing a workable space plan.  If you need to hire a designer for a few hours of consultation time, do that.  It is well worth it to have a professional figure out your display-to-floor space ratio and find the best way to lay that out.  Taller displays should be reserved for perimeter locations.  Create roomy walk-through areas (preferably on the diagonal) throughout the interior space of your showroom, using displays that are at eye level.  Add lighting to be sure all areas are well-lit for product selection.  And finally, include one or two comfortable work tables (you can use pub-style tables and chairs for a touch of fun) so you and your customers have an inviting area to work in.

When all is said and done, the time and effort that goes into a remodel is well spent.  Your customers will appreciate the end result, not to mention that this workplace, where you spend so many of your hours, will be much more enjoyable.