artful makeover published!

a while back, I worked with professional artist Sharyn Sowell
to redesign and restyle her studio... an Artful Makeover.
we spent a week up in Washington state plotting, planning, 
dreaming, sketching, shopping, painting, arranging, and laughing...
and the result was a studio space that not only had more storage and more working space, 
but worked more efficiently for her 
AND was the inspiring nest she had always hoped for.

you can read all about our process and see photos in this Artful Makeover post.

Sharyn's studio and her art are featured in the new Winter issue of Where Women Create Magazine
and there's a nice little blurb in there about yours truly, too!

it's always fun to help another creative person create the space they dream of....

if your creativity is being overwhelmed by your workspace, 

Vintage Vendor Space Makeover


Let's talk about vendor booths in stores. 
Vintage, antique, handmade - doesn't matter what they sell,
they have to deal with limitations of space and lighting in every situation.

I recently had the opportunity to make over a vendor booth, 
so I thought I'd share the process...
The photo above shows you an 8' X 10' room inside a multi-vendor store.
That vendor moved to a larger room, and a new vendor took over the space...
(I'm showing you this shot so you can see the huge difference as the space progresses)

Once Vendor 1 moved out, the room looked like the top row of images in the photo below: 
empty. and filled with blue light, most of it from the overhead florescent fixture. 

The challenges here: 
counteract the blue light. warm it up.
make the space seem larger. infuse some personality into the room to help tell a story. 

oh - and it all has to be removable, non-permanent, and CHEAP. 

sure, I can do that ;) 
 In the center of that photo, you'll see the 'DURING' segment.
In this phase, I brought in wall and window treatments that accomplished the main goals:
Warm up the space - the aged, yellow-gold tones of the vintage book pages & sheet music
help to counteract the blue-white walls and blue light present in the room.
To overcome that florescent fixture, I covered it with yellowed piano player music rolls.
The light is now MUCH warmer, without making a change to the bulbs.

Below, you can see details of the wall treatments that I created...

On the left below, which is actually the wall on the right as you enter the room,
I created panels of pages by gluing them onto simple posterboard sheets.
This made installation quick, easy, and possible for one person to handle alone (that would be ME)
and it also makes this effect easy to remove when the time comes.
I was able to create the panels in my studio beforehand, saving me time and money
over having to apply pages and pages directly to the wall.

On the right below, which is the wall on the left as you enter the room!, 
is a collage 'art piece' made up of a few more posterboard panels, an old projection screen,
player piano music rolls, and miscellaneous items like boxes, hooks, and books.

 The photo above shows a larger view of the left wall 'art collage',
which was created to utilize vertical wall space for the display of jewelry and wall art.
The hooks, boxes, and even folded pages of books will hold merchandise
well within reach of customers. Plus it's really unique and eye-catching!

The window, shown in the photo below, was partially covered with a 'valance' 
made out of piano player music rolls hung from a simple curtain rod.
The panels help to diffuse the blue light coming in (and keep you from seeing the metal security bars outside).

You can also see that I treated the funky shutters on the wall as a 'window',
adding a canvas' awning' above it from two curtain rods and a set of brackets.
(Eventually, when we find a mirror that fits the hole in the wall behind those shutters,
we'll install it and open up the shutters to enhance the 'window' effect - 
and the mirror will bounce more light around the room.)
Once the 'backdrop' was in place, I brought in some basic table fixtures to hold merchandise - 
a long, narrow table on the longest wall and a round tall table to the left inside the door.
The rocking chair, wood ladder holding the sign, and mannequin (under the coat) are funky props
that add interest and will hold a plethora of products.
This approach utilized the narrow space efficiently, and make it seem larger.

Then the merchandise was loaded in,
filling the tables, art collage wall, mannequin, window, and rocking chair with treasures
both vintage and handmade. That brings us to the 'AFTER' part of the photo.
(NOTE: this is not the same vendor that occupied this room in the top 'before' photo)

Now I'd like you to scroll back up to the first photo I shared.... it's ok, I'll wait!
Look at that room, and then scroll back down here and look at THIS room.
Both photos of the room were taken from exactly the same vantage point.
They don't even look like the same room, do they? 

The lower one seems to be wider, not quite so tall and skinny, and clearly warmer.
You can't see everything offered in one glance... things are hidden.
The room welcomes you in. It invites you to browse and discover what's offered,
 and take a bit of this mood home with you.

THAT, my friends, is why visual details count
It's all an illusion. And it can work in your favor.

Need help with YOUR space? Shoot me an email!

Going Above & Beyond 'Business'

I just can't stop thinking about this.
And though I had planned to write a post about a different subject this week,
this situation is one that bears sharing and honoring...

Honestly, folks, how many retailers do you know who would open up their stores / showrooms to refugees in their own hard-hit community? How many would allow hundreds of people who are soaking wet and likely covered with dirt and detritus from flood waters to walk on the carpeted floors, and sit and sleep on the brand-new furniture that's for sale? How many would also provide them with food and water?
There are many people reaching out to Texas right now, and it's heartwarming to see. 
But THIS... well... 
Mr. Jim McIngvale, owner of Gallery Furniture in Houston, Texas, gets a standing ovation from me, for showing the world why independent 'mom n pop' retailers aren't the 'dying breed' the media likes to make them out to be: By opening his two furniture stores as shelters for displaced residents impacted by Hurricane Harvey, he rises above not just the water, but also the clamor of noise about how business is all about sales technique and merchandising and marketing and gift shows. He's interested in bettering his community and the people in it, as are so many of you. BRAVO, sir!

People like Mr. Jim McIngvale aren't just serving their local communities with actions like this.... they are rebuilding my hope in humanity. God bless you, sir, and all who open their hearts and arms in times like these. I'm learning more from you about how to 'do' business than through any book I've read or course I've taken or podcast or seminar I've listened to, and from businesses I have worked with / for. People like Jim have a lot to teach us. 

See the whole story in this news video

Edited to Add:
I just learned of another Houston-area retailer who is stepping up: 

Retail chain Academy Sports + Outdoors opened its Houston-area stores to rescuers in need of boats, life preservers and other supplies. They have now converted their corporate headquarters into temporary residences for hundreds of police and other emergency responders. As of this morning, they are hosting more than 400 rescue-team members at the corporate campus west of Houston.
 I offer a hearty round of applause and gratitude to this company and its dedicated staff!

See the whole story in
 the Wall Street Journal

I'm not going to endorse any one charity here, 
but I will encourage you to donate in some way to assistance for Texas. 
I'll be donating a portion of my fees as a stylist and photographer for The Vintage Marketplace show,
my project next week, to a charity that is offering assistance to Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Fall Display Inspiration

Fall isn't here YET... but it's coming!
If you haven't begun planning and installing your fall merchandise & displays yet,
don't worry - just get to work NOW and get them up by August 1st,
 and you'll grab the segment of shoppers who are just gettin' in the mood!

It's always a good idea to get out of our day-to-day mindset and look ahead. 
Consider it the same thing as watching the weather segment on the news to see the extended forecast - 
we want to know what's coming up, how to plan, what to expect... 

In business, that can mean taking a singular message or concept, 
and creating a visual merchandising plan or an advertising or event plan 
that builds it from month to month or season to season. 
This basically tells your customers what to expect from you in the near future - 
and gives them something to look forward to. 

In retail psychology, it also creates a sense of urgency - a reason to buy NOW: 
'Get this season's products before they are gone, 
and be ready to get the next seasons's hot deals as soon as they release!'
I've rounded up some fall-specific posts from my archives to inspire you:

...just a few of the fall merchandise displays I've created over the years...
Don't forget to check out my seasonal content on social media!
 Pinterest . FacebookInstagram

my take on retail visual design:

"The thing is, retail design is driven by psychology. It is by manipulating space, visuals, lighting, sound, smell, and mood that we influence customers to enter, stay, browse, buy, and return. It is an endless exercise in change, endurance, growth, education, and imagination that enables retailers to stay on top of their game and at the forefront of their customer's minds. Yes, what you sell IS important - but even the very best merchandise won't sell at full price if it's presented in torn boxes on dirty shelves in a store that is too crowded to turn around in. Visual impact is a huge part of business, and utilizing the principles that have been proven to work can help you build a better business." ~ DWK