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Rather than walk across hard flooring, sit in uncomfortable straight-back chairs under dim, harsh, lighting and stare at bland, utilitarian walls typically found in many convention center meeting rooms, visitors to the 50+ Housing Council and Multifamily headquarters at the NAHB International Builders’ Show in Orlando last month gathered in comfortable and welcoming lounge areas that invited conversation and networking .
But the pleasant surroundings weren’t the only benefit of the headquarters’ transformations. The decor of each headquarters also served as a visual aid that demonstrated how public areas and sales offices can be decorated to appeal to their respective demographic group.
The makeovers were created by the design team of Kay Green, Ashley Jennings, Jerry Collin and Jennifer Bressin of the Orlando-based interior design firm Kay Green Design.
The two headquarters incorporated common elements to serve the networking needs of the respective council’s members. Each featured four or five discrete seating areas, four 5-foot dining tables with chairs, a bar and, for seminars, an audio-visual area with a big screen and seating for about 30. That, though, was where the similarities ended.
The 50+ Lifestyle Central lounge, for example, reflected what the designers called a “transitional” approach. To incorporate style elements that appeal to 50+ buyers they used warmer colors in the red, brown and gold ranges to create a more comfortable feeling.
For the Apartment and Condo Central lounge, the designers incorporated style elements — clean lines, contemporary furniture, sharp accessories and cool grays, blues, creams and silver colors — that appeal to a younger demographic.
The designers installed trusses to hold additional lighting — red in the 50+ lounge — and curtain panels to soften the concrete walls.
To create a more vibrant and lively atmosphere in the apartment and condo lounge, the designers had the lights continually changing colors.
And, to create a more inviting, home-like ambiance, both lounges featured supplemental table lamps — and vases filled with fresh flowers.
Council members and visitors relaxing in the lounges indicated that they were delighted with the makeovers. Some were seen stopping in their tracks and staring for a few moments at the entrance before finally scouting out a comfortable chair.
The goal of the design exercise was to produce a “model home effect,” according to Bressin.
In addition to the lounge transformations, Kay Green Design conducted two seminars in the lounges that explained the process of merchandising a model, using the rooms as full-scale visual aids.
Company staff members also held four educational seminars at the Builders’ Show on kitchen and bath design; designing for Generations X and Y; color trends; and marketing and sales ideas. Slide presentations from the seminars can be viewed at www.kaygreendesign.com/presentations.html.