There’s no denying that physical showhomes are one of a housebuilder’s most important marketing tools; people will always want to touch, feel and experience a home. But when markets are challenging, and competition high, how do you keep a showhome current to maximise its value? Our director, Steve Hird argues it’s all in the detail…
“First and foremost, a showhome is there to add value and help house hunters become more invested in a potential move. Ultimately a customer is buying a blank canvas, so a well-designed showhome should make the buying journey more exciting, inspiring potential purchasers to think creatively. Not forgetting of course, they can also be exceptionally useful tools for plots that are compromised or to showcase a new house type that people ‘don’t get’ on plan.
“So where to start?
“Before issuing a brief to your interiors team, think about longevity, location and layout. How long do you expect to be selling from this showhome? The average lifespan is between two and three years, so its design needs to be as forward thinking as possible. Furniture and fabrics typically follow fashion, so you can look to this industry for examples of trends that will be upcoming.
“Location is just as critical. If a showhome isn’t specifically designed for a location or house type, it can end up with furniture that doesn’t enhance the space(s), or a design that simply doesn’t match the neighbourhood. It needs to have relevance so draw inspiration from local landmarks, sports teams, heritage, or the environment.
“Of course, presentation and styling are essential. If there’s features of the layout you want highlighted, discuss these with your design team from the outset, don’t make them an afterthought. Pick out details that video or photograph well, this is essential not just for your own social media content but to encourage visitors to post and share their discoveries too.
“Once a showhome has launched, remember not to neglect it. This includes basic housekeeping like replacing room diffusers and hand soaps, washing or steaming bed linen and towels to avoid sun damage, but can also incorporate more significant upgrades. Showhome refreshes are popular right now, from big budget overhauls to more thoughtful alterations, and can be implemented for various reasons.
“Some of these are simply age-related, they just need a revamp to modernise colours, materials or lighting. Some are trend-led, so a children’s playroom might now be better suited as a home office. Some are about illustrating how a family can grow with a home, for example, we’ve just updated a nursery to remove the cot and replace with a child’s bed. Then of course there’s customer feedback. We want to remove any negative obstacles. If a room layout is proving awkward or if visitors are struggling to visualise space, then redo it. For example, we’ve replaced bunk beds with twin beds to better showcase the size of a room.
“It’s important that refreshes are undertaken for a purpose though, not just the sake of change. A successful showhome design should maintain a healthy footfall, adding value to the house buying process and translating into a strong sales rate.”