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Eileen McClelland

Tips on Working with Your Chosen Store Designer

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Each year as we near the deadline for entering the America’s Coolest Stores contest, my thoughts often turn to the process of designing and creating those cool stores.

If you haven’t entered, it’s not too late. The deadline is March 15 and the application can be found at americascooleststores.com.

Appropriately, the subject of April’s Category Focus section of INSTORE is how to choose a store designer.

If you’re in the process of considering a renovation, expansion, or brand new store, here are additional tips provided by Stephanie Wilson Maxey, consulting designer based in Jacksonville, FL, about how best to work with your chosen store designer.

Before hiring a designer for your new store, expansion, or renovation, do your homework, Maxey advises.

Establish a visual theme or a design concept to enable the designer to further expand on your ideas by researching various interior styles on the Internet or in magazines.

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First consider if the interior is to be trendy, traditional, contemporary or transitional.

“I’ve had clients send me photos of restaurant interiors to adapt to specific areas of their store design,” she says. They’ve also sent photos of special interior features they are thinking of incorporating – everything from water features and electric fireplaces to wine bars and lounges.

If you’re not sure what you want, describe your products and client base and let the designer help you with an appropriate plan.

Be realistic about your budget; otherwise, the designer will be on the wrong track and that misunderstanding could delay your project.

Give your designer as much information up front as possible, to limit the changes needed during the process. Reconfiguring one area after the drawings are developed can snowball into changes in the electrical, lighting, finish plans and millwork drawings.

That can drive up your budget.

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Finally, be realistic with how much time the project will take.

“Most stores I work on are usually like designing a mid- to high-level residence that involves much detail and coordination,” she says.

Allow yourself enough time in the course of the project to be involved, to the level you’re comfortable with.

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