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Retail interior design project: a vibrant homewares and vintage furniture store

Interior design & all images by Studio SK

It's time to share another interior design project with you, and today's is a vibrant homewares and vintage furniture store based in West Sussex.

The clients - a husband and wife duo - originally started an online small business selling vintage and reupholstered second-hand furniture, with a focus on mid-century design such as sofas and armchairs, sideboards, dining tables and chairs, and lighting.

With the continual growth and success of their online business, they made the decision to further expand into opening their first bricks and mortar store to showcase and sell their vintage furniture from, as well as selling mid-century modern style homewares alongside.

The clients initially came to Studio SK for an interior consultation session, discussing their site's potential, and lots of ideas for the retail displays and layouts. After this positive consultation session they realised they needed an interior designer more involved on the project in order for it (and the evolution of their business) to be successful in the long run. And it's been such a fun retail interior design project to work on!

Design brief & interior inspiration

The wife from our client duo is originally from California. Her aspiration was to somehow include Californian sunshine and mid-century iconic, Palm Springs vibes into the store's branding and general aesthetic - providing the perfect playful interior inspiration for their small business!

The goal was creating an inviting, vibrant and fun retail space without it falling into the realm of feeling Kitsch, or looking like a Disneyland-esque caricature of mid-century California. It was important to establish the interior design brief as drawing inspiration from this time period; not mimicking it.

With their independent retail business only existing online up until this point, and planning to expand their offering into homewares items, the clients wanted a store that would essentially be part show room for the vintage furniture and fittings, and part typical retail shop for the new homewares side.

The challenge here was to ensure there was no obvious divide between the two retail sub-types within the space so the customer shopping experience would flow seamlessly between the vintage mid-century modern furniture and the new-to-buy homewares items.

As this interior design project for the bricks and mortar store was part of the small business' overall evolution and expansion, the budget dedicated for works and completing the site was pretty tight. (The clients were needing to acquire the new homewares stock and dramatically develop their ecommerce website at the same time as working on the store interior.)

So the design brief involved me needing to be clever and creative with bespoke design elements like the POS counter and fixed retail displays, as well as being cost-savvy with material choices throughout the interior. I do love an interior design challenge!

Project process

A full retail interior design project at Studio SK is typically broken down into the following stages:

  • Stage 1: Concept design

  • Stage 2: Detailed design

  • Stage 3: Implementation

If you want to find out more about the interior design process and what's involved at each stage you can have a look here. For this project my interior design services were required for Stages 1 and 2 - these stages are usually a very collaborative process between Studio SK and the client.

With this retail project and its tight budget the clients had made the decision to procure the materials and complete as much of the site works as they could themselves. So it was crucial that the interior design scheme was fully understood by them and they could easily invisage what the finished space would look like.

Concept Design

After visiting the site to measure up in detail and get plenty of photos of the existing space, I begin most interior design projects exploring the potential of the site's layout via 2D floor plans, and researching and collating images to create a mood board of the interior design concept.

The mood board(s) is an overview of the general look and feel and proposed interior design ideas so the client can understand what the interior for their independent business will look like. I also like to include a digital material board at this early stage to show suggested main finishes like paint colours, flooring, wall tiles etc - this way my clients can really get a feel for the proposed design.

The proposed look and feel for the homewares and furniture store included a statement shopfront colour, much like the front doors of Palm Springs houses, and a laidback, sun-soaked Californian summer feel via off-white wall cladding, and chalky blue, pink and peach tones.

You can see from the initial material board above that the different types of materials have been purposefully limited from a financially conscious perspective, but then using numerous colours within each material type to create a more visually engaging and inviting retail interior for customers.

Detailed Design

Once the client is happy with the concept design stage and it's been 'signed off' I then start working on the interior layout in much more detail - such as locations of lighting and small power points, floor finish types etc - as well as producing detailed drawings for bespoke joinery and 3D visuals of the proposed interior.

As already mentioned about a tight project budget and the client planning to do the majority of the works on site themselves, I designed the POS counter with a simple shape and design so it would be straight-forward for the clients to build themselves.

The tiles used on the counter front are from a cost effective range from Solus Ceramics and shown in a easy-to-tile grid layout. I jazzed up the overall look of the POS counter by using 3 different tile colours, from the same range, in an ombre style.

Much like the POS counter, I designed the bespoke storage and display units along the long walls of the retail store in a way that was straight-forward and cost-effective for the clients to produce themselves.

The base storage units are modular in design so they can easily be placed together to form a larger retail display. I ensured that the same length, depth and height dimensions are used with all the storage units so that it would be quicker and easier to manufacture them, as well as not causing confusion on site of which storage unit should go where.

Having base storage units, and not just open display shelves throughout the shop floor, allows additional stock to be neatly put away (and easy to grab and restock) instead of over-filling shelves. The base storage units are also deeper than the open shelves meaning that larger and possibly heavier products can be happily displayed on top.

The retail display shelves proposed above the base storage units are a relatively budget friendly system for the clients to buy, and the shelves are easy to rearrange and remove or add more shelves as required for them to curate items however they wish though the retail seasons and years.

I also spent a lot of time with the client developing the materials board, ensuring they were happy with all the proposed samples - seeing samples in person is something I always highly recommend before ordering anything, as colours, textures and scale of patterns etc can vary so much from the online images!

Alongside the detailed drawings and sample board, I produced 3D visuals for the clients so they could fully understand what the finished interior would look like (just keeping scrolling down to have a look at these).

3D visuals aren't always needed in an interior design project, but they can be super helpful for trades people to see what you want the outcome to be from them, for use in landlord packages, and even for using on your small business social media channels to get customers excited to visit during the build and lead up to the (re)opening of your small business.

Retail interior design outcome

So here's a look at the proposed design outcome of the store interior via the 3D visuals.

I don't normally add so many item into 3D visuals or get into the nitty-gritty details of objects that will likely exist in the space if it's not essential to the interior design scheme... after all 3D visuals are to help clients imagine what the proposed interior for their space could look like, not play spot the difference between the 3D visual and the finished physical space!

But because the clients were doing all the site works themselves on this retail project, I wanted to make sure the 3D visuals would keep them on track with the proposed interior design (like what colours and finishes were going where), as well as keeping them motivated during the build. I basically just wanted the absolute best for them and their independent retail business, helping them achieve this via my interior design services if I could.

Slight ramblings aside, let's get back to the outcome for the project.

I developed a floor plan layout that loosely split the store into areas or zones representing rooms in a house - this way the customer experience had an intentional flow through the space. It was also a means to strategically place the new-to-buy homewares items near or even on the mid-century furniture currently being showcased in the store, helping the two different retail offerings of the clients' small business seamlessly blend together.

You can see in the 3D visuals that these zones were categorised into eating (i.e. kitchen and dining rooms), living (living room and bedroom etc), and bathing (one guess what room this included). There is an alcove as part of the existing floor plan shape near the POS counter, and this worked out to be a perfect area to showcase art prints.

The design of the bespoke base storage units are inspired by mid-century sideboards to be in keeping with the design brief and interior inspiration set out at the beginning of the project. Even the adjustable retail display shelves above are in the style of the iconic mid 20th century String shelving system.

I proposed a more contemporary finish to the oak veneer on the base storage units, rather than a typical mid-century teak or walnut, to encourage them to sink a little more into the background. This also allow helped accommodate new customers who aren't perhaps into the large mid-century furniture in the store and instead attracted by the fun and colourful homewares items like the cushions, tableware and candles etc on display.

By having these bespoke retail displays fixed to the walls the central display tables and vintage furniture have the opportunity to be moved around and rearranged as required by the clients - whether seasonally for retail trends, or when a mid-century furniture is sold and the next vintage item brought in is smaller/larger/completely different and can have its own space.

What the clients really appreciated during the interior design process was how they could see the project progress from interior inspiration and material imagery forming the design concept to the detailed plans and bespoke joinery designs that would shape their retail interior, to the 3D visuals laying out what the space would look like.

Every colour, material and aesthetic choice was intentional for achieving what they wanted for their homewares and furniture store, and it all amalgamated into an interior design scheme that they loved.

I'm hoping you agree that the interior has a lovely nostalgic, Palm Springs summer aesthetic running through that really lets the vintage furniture and fittings sing, and provides the perfect backdrop for all the colourful, mid-century modern style homewares.

I can't wait to see when the works on site are completed and the store is officially open in the not-to-distant future!


So there it is - a vibrant homewares and vintage furniture retail store for your mid-century modern design desires.

If you're looking to start your own interior design project go and check out my retail interior design service for more information. Or feel free to get in touch if you want to chat more about how working with an interior designer could benefit your independent business.


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