Our fourth challenge on Interior Design Masters thrust us into the world of retail where we had to design a shop on The Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells! For those of you that have never been, The Pantiles began it's life as a Georgian medicinal Mecca, formerly known as The Walks and the Royal Parade, which leads from the well that gave the town its name. To read more about the areas interesting history, click here. I love a good bit of history!
This week, the head judge was Michelle Ogundehin and the guest judge was the most incredible retail entrepreneur, Ross Bailey. Ross founded Appear Here - an innovative online marketplace for retail space. As a small business, I was already aware of Appear Here and nearly used the service in the past, so this was super daunting as I know Ross would have seen amazing retail spaces transformed for pop ups every day!
Judge Ross said:
"I absolutely loved your shop Charlotte. You will have tripled the shops revenue and made it the must have shop to visit on The Pantiles!"
Catherine the shop owner said:
“We loved our makeover (particularly the cupboards). You worked so hard and totally got us. Well done!"
Some of what we were told...
Collared is a stylish dog accessory and gift shop for dogs and dog lovers, selling top quality products from around the world. These include Molly Mutt, Puppia, Blossom, Henry Wagg, Rough Wear, Walters, Hunter and Flexi. Dog collars are the most profitable items.
• A space that must create a sense of fun, optimism and energy upon entering
• The owner is open on the overall aesthetic as long as the scheme brings joy
• Character, eclectic, energetic.
• Heritage – option to explore the era of the old butcher’s shop to inform part of the design.
• Better storage and improved capacity is key, but this must not encroach on limited floor
• The shop design must reflect the range of quality dog products available
The original floorboards are in great condition. The floor may be sanded.
The shop lighting design needs readdressing as the existing lights are too high.
Lighting to create ambiance in the space would be ideal.
Walls and Ceilings
The walls of the old building are in decent condition. The owner is open to wallpaper, pattern and different wall treatments.
The till and counter location must not be changed. The shop has played around with several
configurations in the past, and the existing location gives good line of sight into the store and
towards the door.
The white unit underneath the till may be replaced. It is up to the designer whether to keep the Edwardian counter. This does not have to be used, but if replaced, a similar counter with ample storage and a display element is a must for the till area.
The owner would like to make better use of the windows. Visual merchandising plays a big part in attracting customers into the shop. The external shop fronts are listed and therefore it is better for them not to be adjusted.
Fire Regulations & Health and Safety
• Any foam used for seating etc needs to have the appropriate fire retardant label.
• Sheet material for bespoke furniture or wall panelling does not have to fire retardant.
• The fire alarm/sensor needs to remain in its current position, unchanged and unaltered.
• Nothing can be screwed or fixed into the internal or external window frames
• The exterior cannot be changed in any way as the exterior is listed.
• The glazed panel on the office door cannot be changed
The Pet Shop!
This was my original sketch for the shop front and window that I presented to Catherine. (Before we found out the shop was listed and couldn't stripe the front!)
This week was a little different to the other weeks as we were back in groups (pairs to be precise) but with a twist! This week we finally got the chance to meet the client and had to pitch our design ideas to them! The client would then pick who they wanted to be 'lead designer' of the project and the other person would be their assistant designer.
I love dogs more than life. Siobhan loves Benji (her cat) more than life, so we were so excited to be allocated the pet shop. With words like joy and fun in our brief, we couldn't have been more excited to get started!
At the hub, we met Catherine (the shop owner) on camera, and took it in turns to pitch her our vision for the shop. I pitched a modern heritage concept with LOTS of storage and pelmet cupboards, a vintage library style ladder, low lighting, a variety of wallpapers, oodles of dog joy, a ribbon lead window display and surprising colour moments that would make Collared stand out on the street! Catherine chose this concept, which gave us both a clear focus to head back home to crack on! Siobhan sourced so many amazing things to help bring it all together! We had such a fun week constantly sending images back and forth of all the joyous things we'd picked out for the shop!
The Finished Shop
We wanted to keep a whole wall at the back of the shop for overflow leads and collars as these are best sellers for the owner - as you can see there was a LOT! This was about 1/5 of the leads we managed to get out to merchandise!
What did it look like before?
Very very white with a mix of furniture & overflowing with stock - all at a low level! I didn't want to keep the existing IKEA shelving as it was so small and we could literally more than double the shops storage if we build bespoke.
This little mood board is what I jotted down for my original pet shop scheme. We had hardly any time to get our ideas together for the pitches, but I had a clear vision for wallpaper and colours. I wanted to create a heritage vibe that complimented the history of The Pantiles, but elevate it by incorporating a modern, colourful twist! My vision for retail moving forward is that it will have to be a more conceptual, one of a kind experience that makes you want to get offline and come into store. This idea, combined with the words 'fun' and 'joyful' in our brief, made me confident this scheme would work for a pet shop! After all...whats more joyful than dogs dressed up as humans?! Using the different wallpapers also helped zone the shop and influence the customers journey without them realising it. The bolder wallpaper was visible from the back of the store to make the customer curious and want to travel down there. Cat corner was the only cat merchandise in the store, so I wanted to make that visually more obvious for the customer by using cats as the backdrop.
Valspar Trade Paints
Burgundy Gloss - 'Lovestruck'
Dark Green Eggshell - 'Devon Green'
Dark Navy Eggshell - 'Bass Note
Turquoise - 'Dip In The Pool'
Chartreuse - 'Organic Style'
The Victorian dog wallpaper (shown above) was the only paper we couldn't source in time, but we managed to find this replacement (see below). But there was a slight problem! This option had deers as well as dogs, which obviously wasn't appropriate, so I sprayed their heads to make the wallpaper solely dog focused! Siobhan had already sourced all the spray paints to bring with us on location, so the only change I had to make was to target the heads specifically!
We loved it, and I had a blast wheeling around the shop on giant scaffolding! Alan even asked if I was Banksy which was a hilarious moment :)
The shop is predominantly aimed at dog owners but they do have some cat customers. We decided to keep a corner allocated to cat owners but pimp it slightly so that they would know where to go straight away! After all, what cat owner would walk past a wallpaper with cats dressed in human, Victorian clothing?!
We used this gorgeous Poodle and Blonde wallpaper in the back of the shop as a feature on the fireplace. We wanted to entice people down there, so used this really clean and striking design that was visible from across the shop floor. Because this design was a specific breed, we made sure to use a variety of breeds in the artwork and mannequins to appeal to all dog owners!
Cat Wallaper - Cavalcade Wallpaper
Dog Wallpaper - Victorian Dog Wallpaper
Poodle Wallpaper - Poodle and Blonde
Pelmet Cupboards and Shelving
Probably my favourite part of the shop! My pelmet in hotels week was my favourite part of the bridal suite, so I really wanted to evolve this idea for the next project into cupboards! I was so pleased we were able to create these with the help of our amazing carpenters. Our team of carpenters and decorators were absolutely incredible this week, we couldn't of done it without them! The fat stripe was integral for me as I LOVE a fat stripe (as we all know)! This time, however, I wanted to inject some fab colour so that the cupboards were not only practical but also doubled up as an eye catching and decorative pelmet around the shop.
I think I was outside with the decorator painting this with an hour to go - I'm so glad we were able to get them up in time!!
They are the first thing you see when you walk into the shop and we were so pleased with how they turned out!
We really wanted to have some fun with the shop and introduce lots of furry characters! When Siobhan sent me a photo of this golden lab statue, I messaged YES YES YES :) Siobhan had his head drilled into and leg repaired, then very cleverly up-cycled him into a lamp! We were so chuffed with him. He took pride of place in the store and was aptly named Paul (obviously!).
Ta Da! Isn't he beautiful?!
From that point on, we had dogs on the brain. If we could find something on our travels we would message each other to check the budget and buy it! I got this planter on sale from Dunelm and thought he was perfect to stuff treats into!
Siobhan had bought a selection of spray paints that we matched to our colour scheme too, so we had all different colours for our accessories.
At the pitch, Catherine had told us she had some really gorgeous display dogs that she absolutely loved in storage. On location we picked out some of these and dressed them for the windows. I used them to create a colourful dog, a country dog, a tweed dog etc and lets not forget the QUEEN.....THE PINK AFGAN HOUND!
When we heard the words 'pink' and 'Afgan Hound' in the same sentence we just looked at each other and gasped - SHE'S GOING IN THE WINDOW! Siobhan gave her a new 'do' and I painted her snout in burgundy to tie in with our scheme. We used a female mannequin in the window, and had her glamorously walking all four dogs! These characters were the perfect accompaniment to the lead and collars 'ribbon' design, and made our window full and fun!
Here we are seeing what she looked like in the window!
We thought it brought a bit of added humour to the street and would entice customers into the store! Also, we wanted to display the store's variety by having as many products in the window as we could to show; this included the hanging leads and collar from my original sketch, as well as lots of beds and toys. The gorgeous collar stands Siobhan made were the perfect edition to the window.
There was a LOT of track lighting in the shop already as well as some oddly places spot lights. During our chat with Catherine, she said she would love it if the lighting could come 'down' in some way. Because of time and budget restrictions, I kept all of the tracks and decided to add to the existing lighting with some long hanging pendants; this would create more of a feature once you're in the store (as well as act as a spot light on the central table of products). I had seen some really beautiful coloured pendants but we couldn't afford them, so went for two different styles of pendant to add interest. I bought these giant bulbs from B & Q, which I think are so versatile and beautiful!
Siobhan was a goddess this week with our truck long sourcing lists - I had just moved to London and didn't know my area so well. On one occasion, I went out in the van trying to find B&Q and ended up on the motorway out of London haha. I also didn't have WIFI in my flat yet, so was trying to manage everything from my phone. With a combination of Car Boots, B&Q, Facebook and the good old internet we managed to pull it off!
In my pitch to Catherine I proposed the idea of including an old school vintage ladder in the scheme. Because the shop was a real business, me and Siobhan felt a huge responsibility to do a good job and improve the shops function as well as aesthetic for the future. I promised Catherine I would build up, and add in lots of storage and cupboards so the ladder would not only look lovely, but fit with the historic feeling of the shop and be completely functional too. Our lovely carpenters were able to add a hook to the top which meant it could be moved and secured in different locations around the shop!
Siobhan found this absolute BEAUTY on Facebook marketplace and luckily it was down the road from her in Wakefield - WE'LL TAKE IT! She also picked up a vintage foot stall that we needed at the back of the shop to make the raised beds more accessible.
Artwork & Makes
Artwork wasn't a main priority for the pet shops, but we had a space right at the back of the store and decided to make into a quirky gallery. We wanted to draw your attention over to that corner of the shop, as previously it was so full of stock you couldn't really get down there. We had so much fun sending the photos back and forth trying to decide the final line up of our characters!
We even managed to get some upholstery in!
The shop was split into 3 sections, so at the back we wanted to make a specific puppy area. Originally, there were a lot of cupboards and rotating stands, so we cleared all that out and repainted the slatting so the products would pop off the dark background. We turned the cupboards into seating by adding one large padded cushion so people could congregrate with their dogs or attend a puppy social in the evenings! The burgundy leatherette tied in with the burgundy gloss we used on the stairs and window/till point. It was lovely as after we finished, the crew used the seating as a little hub.
All the woodwork and fireplace down this end of the shop was painted in the bright turquoise to connect it to the pelmet cupboards in the front of the shop.
Siobhan made these gorgeous stands to decorate the shop. We had a lot of them at the till point to hold mini collars for last minutes purchases, and put the rest in the window or dotted around the shop.
I bought a selection of these vintage style letters from Hobbycraft (big and small) as we wanted the shop name incorporated around the store. We used the big ones for the shop window combined with the sprayed wallpaper, and the little ones for this giant collar Siobhan made! We wanted to encourage the shop owner to use more social media so added a hashtag to the collar.
We are so proud of what we achieved this week! The only negative is running out of time to finish some of the aspects we wanted too. We had a flexible MDF table planned in the shape of a bone that we were going to cover in the graffiti print, then place in the centre of the shop. It would have been amazing but in reality, this install should have taken weeks so I can see why we ran out of time! I'm so passionate about independents, and really wanted to take this opportunity to build the owner a structure that would not be possible otherwise, and that they could use for years to come! They had so many lovely nick nacks and props already in storage, so I hope Catherine has had fun re organising the new shop!
Hope you enjoyed the episode and onto beach huts!
Behind the scenes
Cheers to the half way point!