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Store Refresh On A Budget

Furniture World Magazine


by Jennifer Magee - Part 2

If you are not yet ready to do a major showroom renovation, here are nine additional low-cost, effective ways to spruce up your store.

“Store Refresh on a Budget - Part 1” in the March/April issue of Furniture World (https://www.furninfo.com/furniture-world-articles/4047) presented the first six of 15 effective ways to improve the look of retail furniture stores without investing in a major renovation that will cost a minimum of $30 per square foot. These included:

  • Rearrange Departments in Store.
  • Re-Purpose Excess Warehouse Space.
  • Introduce Seasonal Products.
  • Bring in a Visual Merchandiser.
  • Create an Accessories or a Marketplace Zone.
  • Add Rugs.

Nine Additional Ways

  1. Maybe It’s Time to Rethink Your Barstool Displays.

    Now is an excellent time to think about how you display bar stools. Metal brackets inserted into wall standards can easily be adjusted to display stools at different heights. Adding a shelf to create an upper-level display provides high visibility. A duplicate lower row allows customers to test drive the stools. Freestanding shelving units can also work well for displaying barstools.

    For stores that cannot make a two-level approach work, another option is to source two large tables, one at counter stool height and another at barstool height. Group stools around each table to allow customers to determine the stool height that works best for them. Check with barstool vendors to find out what might be available before building out your display. Amisco, for example, has an attractive display that walks customers through its customization options.

  2. BI-LEVEL BARSTOOL DISPLAYS: A good-looking bi-level barstool display attracts customers. Many vendors provide displays that are simple, clean and eye-catching to help customers select barstool customization options./p>

  3. A Two-Level Approach For Accent Chairs.

    Accent chairs are an important part of any furniture store offering. Customers find it helpful to see the different styles displayed in one place. So, if you do not yet have a designated accent chair area, now is the time to create one.

    Accent chair displays work well within upholstery departments, next to rug departments or near design centers. Group chairs in pleasing, eye-catching and easy-to-shop ways. Either place them against a wall (similar to barstools) using the two-level approach or on display platforms to provide more visibility and interest.

  4. "You don’t have to spend a fortune to make your showroom look great. Easily spruce up walls by adding interesting textures or materials that are faux instead of real."
  5. Add Affordable Movable Walls or Hanging Panels.

    If your showroom looks like a sea of furniture, consider adding movable walls or hanging panels behind displays to create visual interest. Instead of building movable walls made of metal studs and gypsum board—the most common way builders do this—consider alternative lightweight materials. Engineered fiberboard, PVC board and styrene-faced foam board are easier to work with at lower cost.

    FURNITURE MALL OF MISSOURI: Furniture Mall of Missouri recently created a different type of accent chair display (top left). The retailer mixed chairs into their “Marketplace” area and suspended chairs from the ceiling to make a bold and playful statement.

    LAYER ACCENT CHAIRS: If you do not have adequate wall space, use platforms to layer accent chair displays to create more visibility and interest.

    Produce lots of visual interest by getting creative with different types of backdrops. For example:

    • Place shelving units filled with accessories behind room sets to make a style statement. 
    • Hang decorative panels made from locally sourced materials with wire and hooks or a loop hanger.
    • Source ready-to-go freestanding panels or screens from popular online sources.
    “Instead of building movable walls made of metal studs and gypsum board, consider alternative lightweight materials. Engineered fiberboard, PVC board and styrene-faced foam board are easier to work with at lower cost.”

  6. UNIQUE BACKDROPS: Create one-of-a-kind backdrops for furniture sets, such as the pictured end-grain wood walls by Montgomery Furniture, wallpapered movable walls by Boulevard Home and hanging felt panels by Acoufelt.

  7. Stone, Tile, and Other Faux Finishes.

    You don’t have to spend a fortune to make your showroom look great. Spruce up walls by adding interesting textures or materials that are faux instead of real. Want the look of stone, concrete, wood or tile? These are available in plastic, foam and similar materials at a quarter of the price. They are so realistic that most shoppers won’t discern the difference.

    Some finishes have simple-to-apply peel-and-stick or direct glue backings that can be applied without hiring outside help. No messy mortar, heavy anchoring into walls or complicated cutting is needed. Retailers can add decorative faux fireplaces and mantels to create a sense of style and warmth.

  8. FAUX FINISH LOOKS:: Brick, concrete, stone or wood looks are all available in faux form at a fraction of the price.

    FAUX FIREPLACES: If you are looking to create a more intimate environment in your showroom, faux fireplaces can add personality to your room sets at a minimal cost.

  9. Apply Paint Freely With Trending Colors.

    Applying a fresh coat of paint is still one of the most cost-effective ways to refresh the look of a store. Although it’s the most basic of all materials, paint makes an immediate, noticeable improvement. Take movable walls to a warehouse area or similar space where they can be easily painted. Or, consider adding wall coverings to create interesting looks. Don’t be afraid to use accent colors to punch up displays. For inspiration, check out the “Color of the Year” or “Color Trends” from paint vendors. Benjamin Moore, for example, provides curated palettes of colors, such as “Casual Coastal” and “Modern Farmhouse” that are always current and fresh.

  10. PAINT MANUFACTURERS: If you are unsure about what accent paint colors to use, manufacturers like Benjamin Moore (swatches above) share their yearly color trend picks and recommended designer palettes to make it easy.

  11. Consider The Many Excellent Flooring Options.

    Moving departments around can present an excellent opportunity to also change flooring. This may complicate the move and add expense, however this can be mitigated by choosing flooring tiles, especially LVP/LVTs, that are easy to lay down over existing hard surfaces. “Click lock” tiles snap together without glue to easily improve the look of areas. Carpet, one of the most cost-effective flooring materials, is also available in tile form. Look for options that are peel-and-stick, easy to install, and do not require additional gluing.

    CLICK LOCK FLOORS: To make changing flooring easy, consider click-lock LVT that can be applied without messy glue or underlay.

    Another attractive option is to leave raw concrete slabs exposed. The cost depends on the type of floor material that needs to be removed and the condition of the slab. Raw concrete floors are versatile to work with, durable, easy to clean, do not require floor transitions and make moving furniture around easier. They can be stained in a variety of colors. Rugs, in particular, look great on them.

    ORIGINAL CONCRETE: Sometimes the easiest floor surface to go with is the original concrete. Use it in its raw concrete form or stain it.

  12. "Concrete floors are durable, easy to clean, do not require floor transitions and make moving furniture around easier. They can be stained in a variety of colors."
  13. Enhance Spaces with Decorative Lighting.

    Upgrading showroom lighting is expensive. However, if you have not yet converted to LED lighting, doing so will offset the cost by reducing direct electricity costs, HVAC usage and manpower needed to replace short-lived bulbs. Add decorative chandeliers and pendants to enhance displays and make a statement. These can also be sold to generate incremental sales.

    PENDANTS & CHANDELIERS: Introducing decorative pendants and chandeliers into roomsets can completely transform your showroom, taking it to a whole new level.

    Use existing light track runs to suspend and power decorative lights. Consider incorporating accent pendants into customer service areas, entrances, and at strike zones along circulation paths. String lights help create attractive looks, especially for patio and dining departments at low cost. They can be purchased from Amazon or an industry lighting supplier.

  14. Consider Suspended Ceiling Elements.

    Nowadays, there are many low-cost and lightweight options for introducing suspended ceiling elements. These can add interest and variety to what might otherwise be boring ceilings. Choose ones that are open and don’t require sprinkler head changes. Consider floating decorative grids, signage rings, suspended fabric panels and more. Suspended canopies come in many different shapes and forms. The least expensive option are canopies of printed fabric stretched over metal frames.

    Canopies can also be produced using lightweight materials such as styrene-faced Infinity board, CoreLite, and Xanita. With these, a realistic wood or metal texture can often be printed directly on the surface. Due to its acoustic value and reasonable cost, mineral wool is another option to consider. It can be formed into multiple different shapes, then suspended with wire. Companies like Moss Inc., Acoufelt, and Muffle all offer standard ceiling products that can be ordered online and shipped directly to stores.

  15. FAUX WOOD SLATS: Sleep Number’s new NYC mattress showroom (top photo) takes advantage of faux wood slat treatments both on walls and ceilings to add a sense of warmth to its technology-heavy space.

    FAUX WOOD CEILING GRIDS: Open decorative grid ceilings using faux finishes (such as a printed wood texture on foam beams or a felt material) can be a great way to work around existing building limitations, like sprinkler head issues.

  16. Explore Signage Opportunities.

    If you have not yet considered integrating your brand message into the in-store experience, it’s not too late. In-store brand messaging communicates your store’s values and the benefits you provide to customers. Use simple wording, phrases and emotive concepts. For example, Tepperman’s adds dimensional lettering around the perimeters of its stores using words like “Relax” or “Sleep.”

    DIMENSIONAL SIGNAGE: Make a bold statement by adding dimensional signage on major feature walls like Tepperman’s does in its major departments.

    Dimensional letters are inexpensive if cut out of materials such as Sintra board or foam core. Local signage shops can help make presentations come to life. Use dimensional lettering to make a brand statement, tell a story or mark a department. Bassett stores, for example, use dimensional lettering to enhance their in-store messaging.

    Another low-cost way to introduce signage is with pole banners that attach directly to columns. These flags can be used to sign departments, communicate store values, share promotional opportunities and much more.

    CANOPY AND COLUMN SIGNAGE: Kloss Furniture hangs vertical banner signs from columns to announce departments and communicate important brand statements (below). Also note the bold, suspended canopy sign over Kloss’ customer service area.


There are many ways to enhance the look of your store without spending a fortune. All it takes is imagination and some know-how. Even small changes can improve the shopping experience, excite customers, encourage them to browse more of your store and lead to more sales.

Instead of building movable walls made of metal studs and gypsum board, consider alternative lightweight materials. Engineered fiberboard, PVC board and styrene-faced foam board are easier to work with at lower cost.



About Jennifer Magee: Jennifer Magee is an architect and designer who has over 15 years of experience in the home furnishings industry. She has designed over three million square feet of retail space. Working almost exclusively with furniture and mattress retailers, Magee has an in-depth knowledge of how to layout stores to create better customer flow, improve the way merchandise is presented, and increase sales. 

She is the founder and owner of Retail in the City, a boutique design firm offering a full range of retail design services from storefront design to interior design, branding, space planning, visual merchandising, signage, new store concepts and more. Her talented team of architects, interior designers and renderers creates exterior and interior design packages so retailers can become more competitive in their home market or expand into new markets.

For additional information, visit www.retailinthecity.com or contact Jennifer directly at 917-533-4372 or jennifer@retailinthecity.com.