Ugh! Signs to Get with the Times in Design


Have you ever walked into a shop and immediately felt turned off by their choice in décor?

  • Used furniture that’s showing visible stains
  • Tacky signage that doesn’t hit that vintage feeling
  • Stacks of hard copy with the front-desk scrambling to organize
  • Lighting fixtures you could swipe an inch of dust off

The perceived value of your business is heavily invested in your ability to adapt with the times. It’s why we tend to either like sleek and modern or rustic and vintage feels to the shops we use. That middle ground that looks like it came from a tacky yard sale haul just doesn’t cut it.

Outdated décor makes the business:

  • Feel like they’re lagging in the industry (leading to guessing if they have modern offers)
  • Don’t care much for their presentation (leading to the same thought about service)

If you’re reading this while eyeballing that 70’s burgundy set of chairs and that bamboo coffee table in the front office strikes you as a “this definitely has to go” item, then you’re in luck because – after all – they are just cosmetic so some touch ups will bring some new life (and pride) to the business.

Here’s what I’d recommend:

  1. Start with a fresh coat of paint
  2. Add decorative art and murals to create visual contrast
  3. Leave ample space for products
  4. Demo your services in a live fashion
  5. Update the workwear

The first is easiest though it may be the most time consuming. Essentially all you’re wanting to do is to dump whatever design you have now on the walls and go with a fresh coat of paint. To do a small store you could be set back a couple hundred bucks but it’s well worth it when the location transforms from “kooky dive” to open and inviting.

Read more: How To Use Color Psychology To Give Your Business An Edge

The second is to add in art to give the eyes a dynamic shift from what’s on the floor. Shops that want to focus on the product may want to go with minimal designs. Those shops that are eclectic may want something busy like graffiti, a wall mural design, or an abstract painting. Photography is always a great blend, too, because it gives your customers something to bring up if they want to do small talk.

Read more: 11 Eye-catching Stores

The third comes down to the furniture (or actually the lack thereof). Modern furniture nails it with their sharp designs and clean look; giving these pieces plenty of open space allows the person to wander around without the shop feeling overbearing. The opposite end is to go with rustic and antique type furniture if it’s an “old” type business which gives it a vintage look and feel.

Read more: How To Create Retail Store Interiors That Get People To Purchase Your Products

The fourth is to get your service out there front and center by making it readily available. Apple does this spectacularly with their stores because people can dip in, ask questions, get help, and then have time to browse around for other items on the shelves. Show off what you have and let people play with it; when they want to know more don’t pass them a brochure – interact with them with a demo! Since you’re going this route it will naturally lead to new items and design such as integrating modern televisions, computers, and tablets; it may also require new layouts for a comfortable demo area.

Read more: Engage Customers with In-Store Demos

The fifth is that the business should take a good, hard look at the work attire and give it a modern update. That professional look may have been fantastic selling mattresses in the 70’s and 80’s but when someone approaches you overdressed it’s real easy to feel overwhelmed – that same feeling you get when a sleazy car salesperson jumps on you. Go with what’s comfortable, but professional, which is relaxed but also good for getting to business. Casual business… more or less. Much of this can be matched through color palettes with how you paint and the furniture (and products) you have in store.

Read more: What Should Employees Wear to Work?

Now over to you. What visual upgrades would you do to an outdated business atheistic?

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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