The new design center at Spenard Builders Supply on Lake Street is a result of practical thinking and artistry, brought together by design center project manager Geoff Murphy.
After deciding it was time to update the displays in the design center, Murphy came up with a plan to make the space easy to walk through and view models of cabinetry, lighting and other home furnishings as if they were in a home.
“It’s giving the opportunity to show people new things. The last displays were 18 years old so there’s a lot of technology and options that people weren’t aware of that we’re trying to show them,” said SBS General Manager Wakeen Brown. “Geoff designed this whole remodel. We’re really happy with it.”
The idea for the space, which is located on the north side of the store’s first floor, was to have a set-up similar to the international home store IKEA, Murphy said. Though Murphy has never been to an IKEA store, he heard about the vast showrooms that allow customers to walk through displays that are set up as if they are in a finished room of a home.
Employing a similar concept for SBS, Murphy created a long space that features two kitchens, two bathroom vanities and a living room entertainment center, as well as samples of office cabinetry, sinks, an island and a desk.
In addition to these displays, the center includes samples of carpet, wood, handles, blinds that customers can pull down, and other home furnishing products from a variety of companies. The finished design center fixes the pitfalls of the old center that were often frustrating for customers, Murphy said.
“The layout is a walk-through of inspiration instead of a maze design that was a confusing process,” Murphy said.
Murphy worked with retired SBS General Manager Bruce Turkington, who was still working when the project began, on the plan for the design center. Turkington predicted most of Spenard’s future business will be remodels as opposed to new construction, and wanted the store to be able to offer newer options.
With the current state of the economy, Turkington said he expects to receive business primarily from people renovating their 30- and 40-year-old homes, as opposed to brand-new construction projects. The new design center equips SBS to help those customers with their remodels.
“It was getting old, it was stale, and (there was) no reason to come in and look again. People want to be able to touch and feel styles of cabinets, differences in quality between manufacturers, different types of cabinets,” Turkington said.
Kathy Hemstreet, an SBS customer who is in the beginning stages of planning her home remodel, said the ease of navigating the space enhanced her planning experience.
“It’s much improved. It’s great because you can really visualize it now. I just like all the set-up and the kitchen cabinets and the flooring so it’s really easy to visualize what it’s going to look like and that’s really helping us because we’re in that stage. We’ve been seeing it in different stages the last couple weeks, so it’s nice to see it all,” Hemstreet said at the design center grand opening, which was March 4.
The remodeling project began in November 2015 and was completed at the end of January. During the time the work was being done, customers were still able to come and view samples of home furnishings, albeit with some difficulty.
Last Friday’s grand opening event was the store’s way of thanking those who endured the chaos with them. Additionally, it gave SBS a way to introduce their customers to the vendors who contributed to the project.
“When they were doing the remodel, we still had it open and were helping people. It was pretty messy and upset some people … that’s the reason we brought people in — to thank them for putting up with the inconvenience and the dirt and everything else. We just wanted to show some appreciation to them and have the public meet a lot of the people that did the work on the jobs,” Brown said.
Though Murphy planned out the space and gave vendors an idea of what he wanted installed for the displays, their style and craftsmanship is evident in the finished products.
The kitchen display, designed by DeWils Fine Cabinetry, that greets customers as they first walk into the center is more than it seems. The wood cabinets open up to surprising storage options for pots and pans and appliances, and spice racks hidden between the stove and the lower cabinet doors. DeWils also designed the office cabinets for the design center employees and a modern bathroom vanity with many drawers and cubby holes.
“They gave me a floor plan of what they wanted to do. After that it’s just a matter of figuring out what really works. We want something that grabs the eye and shows a lot of things in it — a lot of accessories and things like that. We want it to really look like something that somebody could really have in their kitchen so that’s the way I designed it,” said DeWils Regional Manager Tom Krotzer.
Gerard Houseworks also provided the design center with bits of beauty on some of the displays. In addition to installing parts of walls and sheathing, the majority of the plumbing, all the cabinetry, and fabricating and installing all the solid surfaces throughout the center, Gerard Houseworks co-owner David and his daughter Madeline Gerard donated custom inlays on the counter shown in the main kitchen area.
Other main installers for the design center include Linegar Stone Works, Frontier Finishing, Bridgecreek Construction, Keller Supply, Liberty Electric and Sensio Lighting of America, according to an overview of the design center sent out by Murphy.
“It’s real tough to go in there and have customers try to think of new concepts and new things that are going on, new solid surfaces, new flooring designs, without actually showing them something. And we’re the type of place that should be showing it,” Turkington said.