Creating Showcases of Your Design Talents
A showcase home or event can be a great way to get creative and market your business.
Many consumers, as well as interior designers, enjoy attending seasonal show houses or showcase home tours. Some of the esteemed events, such as the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club Decorator Show House in New York City, receive international attention and a great deal of press coverage, where top interior designers and decorators find them to be fabulous sources for marketing.
There are many other cities which offer the opportunity to participate in a showcase home. If it's a commitment you or your firm would like to consider, I'll share several avenues for getting your talents featured and your foot in the door. Some may be familiar and others could be possibilities you've overlooked.
The Whole House
It's a huge undertaking but if you've got the time, resources, and bravado, completing an entire home can bring some of the best opportunities for a 'one designer' show. You'll be able to capture an audience for kitchen and bath designs, home entertainment spaces, outdoor living, bedrooms...and the list goes on. Whatever the home project your attendees might be considering, you'll have it all covered! It's also a great opportunity for your portfolio to be expanded with a cohesively photographed series of design work.
How to Connect and What to Expect: Depending on your area, most of these whole house venues are sponsored by a homebuilder's group or a parade of homes' show. My area, for example, has offered Homearama, a multiple home showcase tour, usually found in new, upper scale neighborhoods. Part of the tour's proceeds benefits a local charity.
On three occasions, I've participated and made the contact through the homebuilder's association, a participating builder, and also through a vendor. They like to see your portfolio and to be assured you'll have the resources and the manpower to see the installation through.
One Room Approach
Often the norm, a showcase home tour will consist of a collaboration of interior designers, each choosing a room or an area to present their talents. A home tour may be under the umbrella of an organization, either of design professionals or a community group, such as a symphony or a charity. A lot of traffic can be generated by various associated events, including galas, cooking and gardening demonstrations, as well as designer meet and greet days. Being able to focus on one area means you’re allowed a greater attention to detail, while enjoying more one-on-one time with attendees.
How to Connect and What to Expect: In the instance the showcase home is sponsored by a charity, you could look at the previous year's program or web listing to find the chairpersons or chairman. Even if they have passed the torch, they can connect you with the right person(s). If co-sponsored by a professional organization, you might need to be an active member or it may be a juried decision. You will more than likely be expected to provide all of the materials in order to complete the room. If it's an existing home, you’ll need to consider if remodeling will be required, such as in a kitchen or bathroom space.
Vignettes or Tablescapes
Perhaps you're just launching your design business or have moved to a new market. In my case, it's sometimes about the time commitment, too. A tabletop event or a vignette (within an event), can be the perfect way to give a glimpse into the beauty of design details, as it showcases your capabilities with scale and proportion, including custom product. I recently participated in a symphony fundraiser and it allowed for more face time with my community members. I was a sponsor, as well, so my company received added recognition.
How to Connect and What to Expect: Since these events are often sponsored by some of the same groups as the ones mentioned in the one room approach, it might be a similar process. If you aren’t familiar with the organizations, simply do an online search with keywords to lead you to the right direction.
Create Your Own Opportunities
The most important takeaway is to think creatively about getting your work out there! Perhaps there is a builder or a realtor who needs to market a prime property. If you could tie it into an event, what a fabulous win for everyone! Maybe there is a historical property in need of some TLC. A few vendors could jointly put together a facelift and provide a before and after experience, while benefitting the community. People enjoy coming together for a great cause!
I would love to hear about your showhouse experiences or questions. Thanks for sharing!
Photos courtesy of Wanda S. Horton Interior Design unless otherwise noted.
Wanda S. Horton is a residential interior designer based in the Charlotte, NC metro area and brings a distinct perspective on all things regarding design. She shares her design musings with consumers and interior designers, alike, via her blog, Interior Concepts by Wanda. She also writes monthly posts for Hooker Furniture’s, "Experience Your Home". She’s an active participant during the nationally acclaimed High Point Furniture Market, including articles in the Designer Lookbook ,and was in the first group of Style Spotters focusing on market trends. She has been included as a guest panelist during several industry social media events. HGTV honored Wanda as one of Five Designers to Follow on Twitter. Her focus on multigenerational interior design has evolved from addressing the various ranges of her clients' lifestyles needs. Wanda has been recently volunteering her time and services in the transformation of her local community shelter, in order to create bright, new beginnings.