The curation of spaces through interior design can instantly influence when it comes to choosing the right dress. We ask Jemma Palmer of Halo & Wren to share her top tips for inspiring interiors.
As a boutique owner, I get a huge amount of enjoyment designing the interior of the store! Understanding the effect of interiors on your brides is so incredibly important and will be crucial to the rest of the bridal buying experience. That first 30 seconds is essential for the success of the gowns in store and disappointing décor can lead to brides wanting to leave immediately. Interiors that are designed to be welcoming and not just aesthetically pleasing will be inspirational and will ensure the bride buying journey begins with you.
The way you design your store interiors represents you, your team, your business, and the buying experience. But most importantly, you WILL attract the right bride if the interior is designed with her in mind.
My own store and everything about Halo & Wren were created from my own journey as a bride. Unfortunately, this was not in an inspiring experience the way you might hope for, instead I left stores feeling the opposite and noting how ‘I wouldn’t’ have used that interior feature or décor’. I am an avid reader of interior design blogs, magazines, and social media accounts and in my home life a keen renovator. I enjoy fashion and being able to express myself through design in clothes or interiors, so I have thoroughly enjoyed styling Halo & Wren. It is important to be able to spot new trends and being able to play around with styling and design has enabled me to envision the ‘look’ of the store. Understanding that interiors will evolve over time, as a business does, is key and your boutique will need to reflect the gowns and designers you stock.
Pinterest, Houzz and Instagram are my ‘go to’s’ for interior inspiration. However, initially when I styled Halo & Wren, I was very much inspired by the space itself and the surrounding area. Halo & Wren is situated on a historic old High Street which dates to the 15th Century and has elements full of charm, but it is not ‘perfect’. Acknowledging that the street is real mixture of different architecture and design from centuries of influence adds to the charm of the boutique. This inspired me to use unusual materials like copper for the clothing rails which has been is a great way to add texture and gives the store a more rustic feel.
Understanding key features of your property will help to design the interior, at Halo & Wren the windows are big and beautiful and let in so much light. I have used this to my advantage and kept the décor minimal, fresh, and laid back and combined this with comfortable touches like the velvet sofa and the plush carpeted changing room. Having high ceilings has also allowed me to add the Edison style statement light fitting which could have been overwhelming if it were not for the physical space of the building.
At one stage the store was used as a jewellers’, so there were display cabinets built into recesses with lots of glass and mirrors. For the first two years, I used these to my advantage and as retail spaces for accessories. Eventually I was able to knock these out to allow for a more diverse use of the space and as I mentioned before it is important that the space evolves as the brand evolves.
When we initially renovated the space, we had a small budget of £2000 to turn around a rundown florist into the beautiful space we envisioned. Since then we have, painted, freshened up and updated the sofa, but we have been careful to recycle, reuse and reduce consumption. We kept the original sofa for home so it could have a 2nd life and in the basement of the property I found some old wooden crates that were initially used as shelving and repurposed them softening the look with floral displays around the mirrors.
Keeping the boutique looking stylish whilst considering the impact of the store on the environment is so important to me when it comes to choosing interiors. Making sure that although we stay on trend or ahead of trend that our choices are long term and not wasteful.
I wanted to keep the aesthetic of the interior clean and simple so that the gowns do the talking. The gowns should be the centre of attention and when you have so many different fabrics, textures, and colours the last thing you want is for them to clash with a busy interior. The colour and style choices I have made have been informed by how well I know my brides. I understand how they will be styling their homes and what fashions they buy into by pinning the same pins as them on Pinterest. I know what they want to see, and I love hearing brides say ‘I want lights like this’, ‘where are these from?’, ‘these dried flowers are exactly what I want for my bouquet’. So not only are they inspired but they feel at home in Halo & Wren.
Looking at fashion and at what is being worn and how Millennials are styling it right now has been so helpful for planning interiors that capture their attention. The millennial bride and the future generations are going to be much more conscious of sustainability, aware of how their choices affect the environment, and they will be choosing brands that have a strong branding story and that speak to them on a more personal level. The millennial bride will be flooded with an overwhelming choice of bridal stores as every week a new one seems to open so they will spend more time researching which store represents them. It will be essential to stand out to your bride and that includes considering your interior design and aesthetic concept. Modern brides will be looking for a relaxed, non-traditional feel, and we have already seen how the ‘selfie’ culture has influenced with Instagram worthy backdrops and walls as trending features in stores.
Statement sofas are good place to start and can be a great design touch without having to change too much in store. Branding and subtle use of your brand throughout the store will help achieve a cohesive brand message. For Halo & Wren brides, they prefer a ‘less is more’ look but with a fun element and I manage to achieve this with cool design features like glass dooms filled with colourful dried flowers. I know this sounds obvious but do not underestimate the power of mirrors! Tiny, pretty, baroque mirrors that look lovely are not enough anymore and the modern bride wants to see themselves. Bigger and better mirrors will not only allow the bride to see themselves but make your store bigger, brighter and lighter.
When I first opened Halo & Wren I spent hours if not full days on the windows displays and would change them almost every two weeks. Now, I am so busy that I no longer have that time and what I do now is more planning. The windows are changed monthly, sometimes every two months and I keep them seasonal. I get help from Clares Little Flower Stall, where Clare and her daughter Sam and I brainstorm, use Pinterest, look at current trends, until we come up with an idea that is suitable. Its important that its within budget, on brand and fun for the windows.
Currently as I write this the Halloween windows have been dressed and we have gone with white pumpkins which have been painted in a gold drip and piled up at different levels over the windows to create a pumpkin trail. They look so chic yet fun and we have already been tagged several times by residents, passers-by, and businesses on Instagram so it’s a great way to get your store noticed. The mannequins have been finished off with a seasonal dried flower bouquet which adds drama and a beautiful, statement dried flower crown, which we will consider giving away in a competition when we change the windows for Christmas mid-November. Dried or faux florals feature heavily at H&W as they are sustainable and reusable. I first had a dried display made in 2017, when I first opened, by Sorcha Herbert flowers which I still use and I have recycled another dried fern display by cutting it up and using it with the disco balls, which is currently above my main mirror.
I don’t believe a window is essential as fortunately Halo & Wren has such a following now that we barely rely on walk-ins and I have many friends with stores who don’t have windows. I am convinced a bride comes in with blinkers on, as they are simply so excited to get in store. However, if you have got windows make sure you don’t let them make a negative impression to passers-by and ensure it’s a marketing opportunity not missed. If you have the option of decorating a window it has endless opportunities for conversation. For me, the windows are an opportunity to have some fun and by changing the display it sends a message that you change your gowns.
1. Make it simple but make it significant.
2. Create a space that is ‘you’ but expect it will evolve.
3. Enjoy styling, fashion and be inspired by what’s around you not what someone else is doing.