What makes you think “Wow, this feels nice,” when you walk into a room? Maybe it’s a table and chairs where you imagine your family enjoying meals. Or it’s an antique rocker with a handmade afghan that says curl up here and read a book.
It’s that comfortable feeling that says, “I can see myself living here.” “And by the way, do you remember the cute doggie bed in the corner?” That’s a memory point.
Interior designers are trained to create spaces that bring those feelings and memories into their clients’ homes. They have been doing the same for developers’ model homes for decades. In high-density, mixed-use projects, interior designers often have an on-site presence, so home buyers can easily consult and buy furnishings that will make their space a home.
What is the first step in this process? As with any product, it all starts with a marketing strategy that defines potential home buyers using detailed psychological profiles. Who is most likely to buy this home?
A local example of how this works can be seen in the turn-around at Greenbridge Condominiums at 601 West Rosemary Street near the border of Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Almost two years ago, the new Greenbridge investors, SMA Greenbridge Owner LLC, hired Atlanta-based The Marketing Directors LLC to sell condos in the seven- and 10-story mixed-use towers whose only retail business on the ground floor was Light Art + Design — which Cindy Spuria opened in December 2010 with Sarah Elbetri with the goal of bringing art and design together (www.lightartdesign.com).
In late spring 2012, The Marketing Directors asked Spuria’s design firm, Sitzer Spuria Studios, (www.sitzerspuriastudios.com) to stage the Greenbridge condos using four psychological profiles The Marketing Directors had created.
Spuria had been involved with the look of Greenbridge Condominiums’ interiors since 2005 when her firm consulted on the project with sustainable design leader William McDonough and Josh Gurlitz of GGA Architects, the firm that saw Greenbridge through to completion.
Spuria and her team — Beverly Dawson, Taylor Ghost and Cassy Lindahl — were hired to design interior layouts, including kitchens and baths, and select all finishes for Greenbridge using local providers and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building standards.
The LEED standard defines local as less than 500 miles away, Spuria said. Her team found green products within that 500-mile radius, many of them from the Carolinas. Greenbridge is the first development in North Carolina to receive a LEED standard gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, which sets a national standard for energy-efficient, environmentally conscious architecture, Spuria said.
From 2005-2010, the Sitzer Spuria team created neutral palettes in most of the condos, unless the units were pre-sold and the owners wanted something unique, Spuria said. The 15 affordable condos sold immediately, Spuria recalled. That left 80 units of which about 20 pre-sold.
Coming back in 2012 to stage four condos to help sell the remaining 60 was a “great opportunity to bring the spaces to life with color, furnishings and art,” Spuria said. They used a custom design perspective and carried their original sustainable philosophies into staging and furnishing the four units: the empty nester; the parents of college co-eds; the young, single researcher; the professional couple.
The profiles were much more nuanced and complete than the two- or three-word short-hand descriptions imply. For example, the empty nester is fleshed out as a couple who is downsizing; whose kids are gone; who want to be free of the clutter years of family life can bring; but these empty nesters have a pet; love cooking; are social and want space to gather with friends in their home and easy access to larger spaces for bigger gatherings, think Greenbridge’s “Sky Lounge” which can be reserved for family reunions, company parties, or bang-out birthday bashes.“We were given budgets for doing the four units and a very short timeframe,” Spuria explained. “We had five weeks total, designing, selection, ordering and the finish painting.”
For the past six years, Sitzer-Spuria Studios had been closing shop the last week of June and heading to North Carolina’s Sunset Beach for an annual Design Retreat. The group spent their 2012 retreat working on the four Greenbridge profiles. They added neutral palette colors to most of the furnishings, except the condo staged to attract parents of college students, which is very bright.
“We wanted to bring a custom interior design feel into the staging,” Spuria said, “because that is who we are and what we do. We wanted the bedrooms to feel luscious — almost like hotel rooms. We wanted the condos to have an over-all modern feel, but to bring used or antique objects into each room because that is very normal for people to have something recycled or antique – lamps, a favorite chair recovered. We also stuck to the rules: keep things simple and on budget. We used the same manufacturers for upholstered pieces and beds, which also helped us keep time deadlines.”
The Sitzer Spuria design team always created a memory point for each condo — sometimes for each room. A memory point is something to remember — a hat on a coat rack, a dog bed, an accent paint color tied to an accessory, a work of art – something potential homebuyers can remember that ties them back to what they saw at Greenbridge.
“Because buyers may see 10 places or more in one day, you need them to remember your place when they have time to think over the day or the weekend of what they saw and what they want to give a second look,” Spuria said.
To that memory point end, the Sitzer Spuria design team showcased some locally created tables, rugs, paintings, pottery and hand-turned wooden items from the Light Art + Design gallery.“It gives depth to Greenbridge that these accessories were by local craftspeople or artists that have ties to North Carolina in some way,” Spuria said.
Local artists include: Hillsborough-based artist Ippy Patterson’s line drawings and botanicals; Chapel Hill artist Katherine Armacost’s oil paintings; and Chapel Hill photographers John Rosenthal and Soleil Konkel.
The work of western North Carolina artist and furniture maker John Webb, known as “Iron John,” can be seen in the dining table in the Empty Nester’s condo. The Sitzer-Spuria design team’s staged units sold quickly after the August 2012 grand re-opening of Greenbridge by The Marketing Directors LLC.
“They started selling like hotcakes,” Spuria said. “As soon as one sold, we would move those furnishings into another condo. Our moving team and junior designer Taylor Ghost have been kept really busy the past two years.”
With only 18 homes remaining, Greenbridge Condominiums offers one-, two-, and three-bedroom floor plans from 1,238 to 3,110 square feet ranging in price from $319,900 to $949,900. There is a host of amenities and several floor plan options: two one-bedroom condos; 14 two-bedroom condos; and two three-bedroom condos.
Visit greenbridgecondos.com for more information (three-bedroom floor plans are not shown on the website). The sales center is open daily: Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Send email to email@example.com or call the sales staff at 919-904-7422.