Thursday, February 15, 2024

Home Renovation and working with what you have.


Work it Baby! It’s human nature to notice the physical beauty of others and sometimes wish we had the same attributes; this also applies with houses when you are undertaking a renovation. You must learn to love the bones and limitations and work with what you’ve got.

Often when I begin a domestic renovation design job, I find myself looking through Houzz or Pinterest mood boards that my client has made. It’s a great way for me to learn about their ideas for what they want and their tastes. I can usually start to pick patterns in what they have saved.

It is quite easy to admire a particular style and want to copy it, but the style you love may not translate to type of house that you have. Behind most successful and emotive interiors photos are unique characteristics of that property that have been enhanced. It is possible that the story you are reading about in a home magazine started out with a brief in a different direction but was carefully steered and moulded to make the best of what they had to work with.

At the early stages of a job it’s important to be realistic and assess whether it’s possible to achieve the desired outcome based on the existing house that you are starting with. For example I can’t turn a Queenslander cottage into a New York loft. Nor can I achieve the same window effects in a house with 2.4m ceilings and plaster board walls if the example image is a vintage French chateau with 4m ceilings and full height billowing curtains. Sometimes acknowledging those limitations can be a disappointing realisation for clients. That said, it is possible to pull off amazing transformations with good interior design. There are many industry tricks that can conceal offending features.

Seeing something you love is the easy part but being able to recognize what elements have made that initial image successful can be more difficult. This is where an experienced designer can help. They can offer the client guidance and options which put a positive spin on what they can achieve with what they’ve got and where possible rework some of the original elements to suit the space.

Approach your renovation with an open mind and know the importance of flexibility during the concept stage. Designers love excited and inspired clients and your finished look may become another person’s inspiration.

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Meters Matter


What makes a successful strip shopping precinct? This question came up recently during discussions I was having with my local retailers association. Strip shops are those on a street, as opposed to being in a big shopping centre. The British refer to it as High Street.

There are many factors that make strip shop precincts successful such as good anchor tenants, interesting mix of retailers, demographics. Transition also plays a major role and meters matter in the world of retail. If you think of a strip precinct like a body, the strongest populated street is the spine, the attached streets would be the ribs. However if there are gaps from the spine the body loses its strength. Successfully transitioning customers means that the flow must be imperceptible. 

I’ve seen this formula in action in my own suburb. I live in an older suburb. Times have changed and competition increased. In my childhood you could get everything you wanted without leaving the suburb. The shops all opened for late night trading on a Thursday and Saturday mornings were super busy. Today, some retailers are stalwarts from my childhood, others new kids on the block with very innovative ideas. There’s also the usual turn-over and empty tenancies which are mirrored in all suburban areas like this.

Map of my local area showing wide spread of shops.

One of the negative issues impacting my local shopping precinct is the spread over multiple streets. Transition can be difficult to successfully achieve within retail. It's difficult even within a store, especially if it's a multi level store. A few years ago Woolworths supermarket built a brand new building in my local area and relocated the library to above Woolworths. This previously empty non-destination zone created a whole new traffic flow within the area, which affected other traders.

Byron Bay is similar to my local area, in that it's also spread out and has good and bad pockets as a result. However it has large tourist influxes which boost the numbers.  

Map shows single street transition.

A suburb near to me shows the difference that strip shop layout makes if the majority of stores are on the one street. This street (shown above) has a movie cinema as it’s long term anchor tenant. There is also a popular pub that would be considered an anchor as well as some very reputable one off retailers. Here people can browse at the shops when they go to the movies. They have multiple choices for food all along the one street. Half way along the street a large park with sporting fields and a playground breaks the flow. This is where the transition starts. Across the road from the park is the local supermarket, which always does well, but is a destination in itself and doesn’t attract the same kind of foot traffic. After the park the customer flow changes. The end retailers are visited by car and don’t have the same exposure as near the cinema. This is why “meters matter” in retail.

Another strong retail strip street is Hastings St in Noosa. It’s a very easy street to walk a lap around the shops.

Map of Hastings St, Noosa.

There’s no sure answer to creating a successful precinct, however as a potential retailer, looking at the layout of the area can help with a more informed decision for future growth.