May 8, 2023
This article was originally published on May 8, 2023; it was updated June 6, 2023.
To best appreciate the new Honeycomb Home Design showroom, owner Ariana Lovato, AKBD, considers her previous location. “We worked out of a 300-square-foot, 60-year-old office space in a central California coastal community called Shell Beach. It had one five-foot display of base cabinets we could use as a sales tool.”
Things have changed – considerably – for the firm. Earlier this year, they moved ten miles south to the larger town of Arroyo Grande into a space that’s more than six times the size of the old location. A former yoga studio, its blank-slate, open design appealed to Lovato, who recognized the potential for converting its 1,892 square feet into distinct working areas for her expanding team.
However, the feature that really clinched the deal for the designer was the expansive skylight and clerestory windows. “The daylight in this space is just amazing,” said Lovato. “People often comment on it as they walk into the showroom. The natural lighting helps so much when selecting finishes because we can really see the true colors of the materials.”
Planning the Honeycomb Home Design Showroom
Once committed to the new location, Lovato began the design process. “Initially, I wanted a ‘lobby’ space so clients could come in, have a glass of wine and chill before going into the conference room, but in reality, we’re always ready for them and we end up bringing them beverages or snacks as we make our presentations. We ended up making that lobby into a small retail space and also situated our office manager’s desk there, so she can greet clients as they enter the showroom.”
Creating the kitchen vignettes was naturally a core concern for the Honeycomb team. While the designer had hoped to put a working kitchen into the showroom, running gas and water lines into the space wasn’t feasible. The display appliances may be non-functional, but they contribute significantly to helping clients visualize their own kitchen.
“We really strategized on styles and sizes of cabinets to show,” said Lovato. “We opted for a transitional kitchen and a modern kitchen to appeal to our clients’ design preferences.” She topped them off with two counter materials – marble and quartz – that let the designers demonstrate the cosmetic and performance differences to the clients.
The final floor plan included a work area for the design team, a conference room, two bathrooms, a break room and Lovato’s office. The conference room is demarcated with a glass panel instead of a solid wall to capitalize on the daylight.
Client Experience and Conveying Brand Identity
It’s important that the design of any showroom be conducive to a positive client experience. Lovato does not underestimate the impact that has on potential customers, particularly in a time when virtual sales environments are widespread. “I think that having an actual, brick-and-mortar showroom for people to walk through is super-important in today’s online world,” she said.
At the street-level showroom, guests enter through the lobby, are greeted and offered refreshments, and then walk through the cabinetry displays before reaching the conference room. This route immerses them in the Honeycomb aesthetic: lots of black, modern lines, mixed metals and materials.
Two cabinet lines are represented on the floor, a higher-end one and a middle-of-the-road collection. Visitors to the showroom first tour the latter line and then are escorted through the custom line. Honeycomb team members are able to explain – and physically point out – the differences between the semi-custom and custom cabinets.
The islands are placed 42 inches and 48 inches away from the perimeter to illustrate the different egress options that the designers prefer. The installations also enable a comparative demonstration of accessibility between drawers and door-fronted cabinets. The cabinet interiors are fitted with the most popular insert options, including spice racks, blind-corner storage units, pantry and utensil pullouts, docking drawer and other accessories. The cabinets are fully staged with plates, glassware and kitchen equipment to further enhance the realistic depiction provided by the displays, and encourage customers’ empathy with the aspirational settings.
While Lovato was surprised that designing her showroom was much more challenging than designing a client’s kitchen, the end result has benefited both the Honeycomb staff and its clientele by presenting complicated design concepts in a welcoming fashion.
—By Leslie Clagett, KBB Managing Editor
Designer: Ariana Lovato, Honeycomb Home Design
Photography: Lisa Maksoudian Photography
Cabinets: Dura Supreme, Nickels Cabinetry
Cabinet Hardware: Top Knobs
Countertops: Caesarstone, Pacific Shore Stones
Lighting: Visual Comfort
Tile: Zia Tile