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Sharyn's Artful Makeover

Over the summer I worked with professional artist Sharyn Sowell
to completely re-design her art studio.
It was a fun (and exhausting!) whirlwind week of work,
where I was able to teach Sharyn some tricks of space design
and organizational concepts that really freed up her space and time in the long run.

Our 'phase one' of the project set into motion a creative flood of ideas
and Sharyn continued refining the space more and more after I left.
She's happy with the changes and the way her creative space functions now,
and I'm thrilled that I was able to help her see the possibilities!

Sharyn is sharing the process and her own photos over on her studio blog:
artful makeover part 1 and artful makeover part 2

photos by Sharyn Sowell

from retail stores and show booths to art studios and classrooms! 

Fall Display ReSet: Play By Play

Ever heard of 'The Domino Effect'?
Hmmmn, sounds like a spy movie title, doesn't it?!

A former visual merchandising manager of mine used this term a lot
It refers to what happens when you undertake a retail display re-set: 
Start moving product from one area, and you have to find a place to put it. 
That means you have to change another area.....and so on, and so on, and so on. 
One thing moves, everything is affected - just like dominoes standing on end in rows. 

It can easily get completely out of control and come crashing down around you. 
A plan is essential. (Working at night after the shop is closed is helpful, too!)
When I was providing visual merchandising services to the Hogue Cellars retail shop,
I did a lot of seasonal re-sets of merchandise and fixtures.
Here's a play-by-play of one of the FALL re-sets - 
which will hopefully inspire you to make similar changes in your own stores.

Step 1: Walk in and survey the shop. Look at stock levels, placement, visual impact.
Step 2: Survey the storage area. Look at backstock quantities, types of merchandise, props, etc.
Step 3: Make a quick plan for where to start, what's new, what moves where, etc.

Of course, the shop was small, so it took no more than 15 minutes to make a plan....
at Columbia, where the retail floor space was more than five times larger, 
I'd spend at least two days drawing a floorplan and sketches of each display setup, 
plus a 'map' of the progression of displays to be changed - in order of attack. 
That helps to keep the mess to a minimum.

Step 4: Begin moving merchandise and re-styling displays.
There are several steps to THIS step, such as:
A. Empty one display area - merchandise on one set of fixtures - 
and place it on carts, or the counter, or the tasting bar.

B. Clean the fixtures!

C. Remove merchandise from a second display area - or unbox NEW merchandise - 

D. Place the second area/new merchandise into the first set of fixtures.

E.Style the display in a way that is DIFFERENT than it was styled before...
mix it up with new products and colors to make it look fresh and new again!

F. Clean the SECOND set of fixtures!

G. Repeat. Again and Again and Again. 

Note: ALWAYS clean the fixtures! ALWAYS clean the merchandise!
Here's how the summer-to-fall merchandise display progression worked at Hogue:
The back wall shelves looked like this ^
The main merchandise on them was grape motif items:
They moved across the shop to the window area, which previously looked like this:
After being loaded with the other merchandise and re-styled, it looked like this:
Close up
Can you see how the new display arrangement and the fixtures here 
make the merchandise look completely different?!
The merchandise from this display:
...was moved onto the shelf units where the grape merchandise had been:
The warm color here was a huge visual pull from the front doors...
much more so than the subtle palette of the grape motif merchandise that was here before.
It's a more contemporary pattern, and looks great in squared placements on these shelves.

The central display that previously looked like this
was stocked with brand new merchandise, to look like this:
A rearrangement of some of the fixtures 
allowed me to place the branched candleabra up high in the display, 
accentuating both the height and theme, because it looks rather 'tree-like'. 
This product was one of my favorites that season - 
it was fun to work with, and sold like wildfire in both wineries.

In the large oak cabinet to the left of that display was all of the glassware:
In the new display, the existing logo glass stayed 
(though in lesser quantities than before)
and large format bottles of wine were added, for contrast and scale.
Wine boxes were utilized as risers, and the graphic logos on them really punched up the display!

Clear glassware is BORING and needs color and contrast to make it stand out - 
and light to make it sparkle. 
The mirrored back of this cabinet reflects the light from the windows
so it's a perfect place for the glass to be shown off: 
Sales of glassware went up IMMEDIATELY!

The bank of shelves behind the register island held various food products:
Not much changed, because keeping the 'staples' consistent makes it easier to stock them
AND it ensures that customers coming in for specific food & wine accessories
can always find them easily.

A new Halloween product display was installed on the small counter 'feature area':
Corralling the Halloween-specific merchandise in one area 
made it easy to change that up on November 1st, so the shop looked fresh.

Behind the Scenes:
I can't even TELL you how much laughter was exchanged during the night of this reset,
as we discovered boxes upon boxes upon boxes 
of HUNDREDS of orange and black neoprene wine bags in the stock room!
 I guess maybe in Prosser, kids get candy when they trick-or-treat.....and adults get WINE! 
I could get into that!

Maybe a game of dominoes, too... ;) 
.content from this post originally appeared here on my design blog in 2009.

Wall Display Inspiration: Wood Crates

As I've been rounding up old wood crates to use in a display I am working on,
a display that I created years ago has been on my mind...
and it's something that can be easily replicated in your store or show booth.

You're not going to believe where this story starts....

 This is a 'before' photo of the wall I decorated.
Actually, this is the second photo, because it started out blood RED.
As soon as I could, I painted the entire barn interior WHITE.

Um, yeah, you read that right.... this was inside a horse barn!
A small 2-stall barn on a farm was remodeled into a seasonal store.
After the cleanup and paint, lights were added
[bought at the ReStore for $3 each!]
and the french doors on the left were installed on the inner wall
so that the huge barn door could still slide open & closed on the outer wall.

 So then I decided to add some interest to that big white wall...
and I 'wallpapered' it with strips of vintage piano player music!
[I had a box of fifty rolls, so there was a LOT to work with.]
After the wall was covered, I added extra pieces that curled up and out, to give it texture.
I even hung some of the strips of paper with the roller dowel still attached,
and some from the rafters up above to make the wall seem even taller.

 Then I took a collection of miscellaneous wood crates and boxes
and screwed them to the wall in a free-form configuration.
I didn't measure - I just started at the bottom with the biggest crates, and worked my way up the wall.

I liked it when it was empty, but the whole point was to create areas for product to be displayed...

... and I crammed a LOT of small items into those boxes!
Furnishings and lamps and other accessories were grouped in front of the wall, 
and the whole room came together in a very organic, country, almost 'Anthropologie' display.

I say 'room' but really, it was still just a barn stall!
[that french door you see was set on the inside of the opening, 
and the dutch barn door opened out]
It was a really enchanting setting, partially due to the unique display sets.

There are so many ways to use this idea in retail settings:

Peggy at Down Home Country Antiques in Orange, California 
created a great wall arrangement of crates for her fall season displays.

Roger's Gardens Nursery in Newport Beach, California 
created an outdoor wall treatment to hold a changing display 
of seasonal garden supplies and plants.

An arrangement of wire locker & freezer baskets would have a more industrial vibe.
If you have a kids' store, hanging brightly-colored plastic milk crates would be perfect!

Vintage Fall Display Inspiration

 In the past, I have had the honor of working with and for a very good friend, Rita Reade,
who is the proprietor of the creative vintage business Mammabellarte 
and co-founder, along with her sister-in-love, Christie Repasy, 
of The Vintage Marketplace vintage show.

For several shows, Rita hired me as her visual designer and stylist
to style all of her beautiful creations into an inspiring booth setting.

One fall, the show theme was 'Farmgirl Fancies'.
Rita and her son unloaded her trailer, and I took it from there to create a setting
that would embody that theme  - along with Rita's unmistakable business brand.

The Big Picture: 
Rustic elements and a focus on ivory, white, tan, and green set a Farmhouse mood.

Rita's signature pink is still in there, but it's taking a back seat in the color palette this time...
It's important to continue her brand palette at each show, 
so all of her colors always appear - but in varied quantities and prominence.
That enables us to shake things up visually and present a fresh look at every show.

Her business name - Mammabellarte - appears prominently from several vantage points.

The Details:

Decorative elements combine with props and products

to provide ample shopping space and decorating inspiration for customers.
When it comes to unusual products, you have to SHOW shoppers how to use them!

Visual merchandising sets a mood, tells a story, and transports the viewer into the past...

The prominent view inside the tent was a last-minute decision:
Those are vintage window screens that I turned into an 'awning' at the back of the booth! 
It was a spur-of-the-moment idea that became my favorite part - 
sometimes, inspiration strikes and the 'plan' gets revised!
It was the MOST popular visual in her booth.

One silver tray just dropped **perfectly** into the seatless iron chair
and created a riser in this display area!
It's all ready for the resin decoupage appliques that Rita makes.

There's some inspiration for your fall displays and windows!

.Visit the Vintage Marketplace website and facebook page
for information about the September 2016 show in Temecula, CA.

this content originally appeared on my DIY home decor blog

On Creativity...

This is so true, no matter what it is that you do as creative work.

And it is also true that many people never hear this information... 
they just toil away in silence, hoping and wishing for 'a break' to come. 
Scribbling and drawing, doodling and writing, scratching out sentences and paragraphs.
First drafts become fiftieth drafts... 
and the struggle to reach their lofty visions goes on.

This is how it IS, and how it is SUPPOSED to be. 

Those stories of 'overnight successes' are bunk.
Celebrity can come in an instant - and the instant is often quickly over. 
The phrase 'Fifteen minutes of fame' doesn't lie. 
[Though, admittedly, many celebs outlive that fifteen minutes somehow].

Creativity is a commitment to a pursuit.
You have a dream, a goal, a vision.
You work toward it every day

Maybe you can only squeeze in five minutes a day to be creative.
Snap a photo. Write a sentence. Sketch a scene. Flesh out an idea.
It builds your skills, your ability, your 'eye', your vision - exponentially.
Much like accrued interest on a savings account, 
this kind of devotion to the practice of a craft, an art, a creative work,
is what compounds daily and increases the value.
You just keep getting better at it the more you do it.

[Have you heard about the principle of Ten Thousand Hours?]

Just keep working.
[paraphrasing Dory there...]
Keep writing, or drawing, or snapping photos.
Whatever it is that you create, keep creating it.
And forget the 'published' or 'exhibited' credits...
Even if no one ever sees the work, it's building your vision.

It doesn't matter how long it takes.
One day, you will look at your own work
and smile 
and say out loud to yourself,

"Hey, I'm GOOD at this!"
(now get ready for your moment and cue the paparazzi)

  1. 1.
    (of a person or action) clever or skillful, typically in a crafty or cunning way.
    "her artful wiles"
  2. 2.
    showing creative skill or taste.
    "an artful photograph of a striking woman"
    "artful precision"

credits: original quote by Ira Glass . graphic image (top of post) by Sawyer Hollenshead