DESIGNING A SPACE

tURNING NOTHING INTO SOMETHING REALLY SPECIAL

We had the absolute best time partnering up with GCE Architecture to design Massachusetts' newest Habitat for Humanity ReStore. If you've never been to a ReStore, it's a great place to get lightly used furniture, cabinets, appliances, and basically anything you could possibly need for your home for a really reasonable price. Better yet, the proceeds from ReStores then go to fund new housing projects for Habitat for Humanity! Win-win! But this new location in Ashland was going to be something special, something unique. In partnership with the Worcester ReStore, Ashland was set to be selling the best of the best. They even had a partnership with Wayfair.com which meand that this store would be something really spectacular. But how do you transform a totally empty, whitewashed warehouse into the next big thing in homegoods and fine furnishings...? Well, that's where we stepped in!

starting with 
sketches

So where do we start? With excitement-(and pinterest)-fueled brainstorming sessions and sketches of course! As a team, we all gathered at the ReStore location, which at that point was literally just white walls and limitless potential, and started the conversation. We knew one of our best resources was going to be ready access to ReColor paint (all donated, all beautiful colors, literally the best paint we've ever used) and that the goal was to guide people from the front door to the cash register, picking up bits and pieces to purchase along the way. Think of the IKEA affect: when was the last time you left an IKEA without buying something...? Yeah, us too. 

To give us and idea of what we were getting ourselves into, we took panorama pictures of the space and sketched over them. Play with the photo sliders to see for yourself!

and now to the juicy, clever details

We'd be willing to bet that when you walk into a store, you don't spend a whole lot of time thinking about psychology and the inner workings of the human mind... But that's the beauty of a well designed retail space, the design does the thinking for you. Making the bathrooms as easy to find as possible, guiding the flow of traffic through the store to avoid bottlenecks, bringing it all together so the space feels full and welcoming, in stead of cavernous and cold. Believe it or not, the quality of design and level of thoughtfulness that goes into a project like this actually means that, as a retailer, ReStore Ashland can actually charge more for each piece they sell, meaning more money to fund much needed new homes. So much went into this project that we could honestly talk about it for days and just be scratching the surface, but here are some of our favorite bits:

the meaning of green:

In the Ashland ReStore, green is all about wayfinding. We picked out all of the most important places a customer would need to find (namely the donation drop-off area, rent-able conference room for classes, and cash register) and painted them green. Even better, for the bathrooms and the donation drop-off area, both places where employees and volunteers would regularly have to point customers, we put great big green arrows over them. Now, when someone asks for the bathroom, the easy answer is "go toward the green arrow on the left". What could be easier! Wayfinding is all about making a space and an experience as easy to navigate as possible, for customers and employees alike. 

messages in blue:

Much like our wayfinding green, in the Ashland ReStore, blue is all about finding your way around the store. Silhouette images of tools, timber, and light fixtures on the far back wall tell someone who's just walked in the door looking for a lamp exactly where to go. Moreover, all around the store we used that consistent blue line not only to keep customers moving and visually bring down the otherwise cavernous ceiling, but we dotted powerful, brand-cenric phrases to bring every shopping experience back to the ReStore/Habitat mission.

mission projection:

We literally mean mission and we literally mean projection. The most important element of this whole design was the ReStore "mission wall". We designed something totally unique with projection signage so that as the store evolves, so can their messaging. And why stop there? We also popped a projection sign on that back conference room so they can put up something totally unique for every class, every meeting, and every event. (they've even hosted a baby shower!)

pretty in paint:

We absolutely LOVED designing with ReColor paint. The colors were all absolutely gorgeous and gave us a really great canvas for creativity. In the picture on the left, we actually used a great big wall to show off all of the colors so customers could actually know what the paint colors looked like before deciding which colors to take home!

and the rest... :

Now, with all that said, we'll just point out two more clever details. First off, take a look at the pictures on the left and see what you notice first. We're betting it wasn't the columns. By painting them black, we camouflaged the columns so in stead of dividing up the space, they simply disappear. Second, the doors... We LOVE our cash register wall of doors. The idea came to us for two reasons, both super practucal. 1. It hides the office door and 2. because when we were going through the planning process the Ashland ReStore actually got a donation of over 400 doors!! So we chose to make the most of the resources we had  readily available and show off a bit of the merchandise. We painted them all with ReColor paint and added in a bit or ReColor Chalkboard paint for convenience. And voila! A feature wall worthy of HGTV!

a happy ending and a new beginning!

Now that you know all about the time and attention and all the thought and care that went into designing the new Ashland ReStore, know that we put this whole thing together in just 2 months!! And that's not just the design, we all rolled up our sleeves and got involved with heavy lifting and LOADS of painting. With teams of volunteers and so much motivated enthusiasm, the Ashland ReStore officially opened and became an instant part of the Ashland community. And check it out!! We were imortalized on their mission wall!! We were so honored and we all had SO much fun!!! If you're ever in town, go check it out! You never know what you might find!

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