The Home Front: Virtual home design showroom tours are the new norm

[Vancouver Sun – March 28, 2020]

If you’re stuck at home for any length of time, everything within your four walls starts to receive a lot of attention; from those you live with, to that dust you’ve never noticed before, to the sofa you’ve grown tired of.

Strolling around home design showrooms is suddenly off the table for many, or has certainly become a lot more restricted, with many retailers closing their doors to the public, amidst the coronavirus situation, with some entertaining clients by appointment only and some not at all.

In response, home furnishing retailers are offering virtual showroom experiences, such as virtual tours and apps that allow people to play around with furniture design and placement from the comfort (forced as it may by) of their couch.

Ross Bonetti, of luxury Vancouver home furnishings retailer Livingspace, is one such retailer, offering virtual show room tours and FaceTime consultations with clients, as well as by appointment visits.

“People can contact us to tour the showroom, and we use FaceTime, and do a lot of digital drawings. We can send complete packages of people’s room settings to them, kitchens etc,” he says.

At Livingspace they’re fortunate that their brands are well known worldwide, says Bonetti, such as closet systems specialists Molteni&C and Porro, and Italian kitchens by Arclinea and Dada.

“People know them and don’t have to necessarily come in and sit on a Minotti sofa to purchase one,” he says.

Livingspace’s sister company Livingspace Homes offers “comprehensive, turnkey residential development and renovation services,” says Bonetti.

German home furnishings brand KARE design, which has over a hundred stores in 50 countries around the world and are a recognized brand in Europe and South America, set up in shop in Vancouver last year, sharing a space with Inspiration Furniture.

Known for their bright bold colours, and fun take on decor and furnishings, the brand has embraced digital interior design tools, producing their KARE room planner app; available on the App Store and Google Play.

“In real time, through your phone’s camera, you’re trying out pieces before you buy them. You can essentially make a dining set and see how it’ll look in your space before you buy,” he says.

The room planner app can be used in two different ways, says Sean Elpa, brand ambassador for KARE Design Vancouver, the first allowing people to do a  3D render of their space and furnish it with their collection, and the second using AR (augmented reality).

All KARE furniture is designed and made in house, says Elpa, and is known for its bold esthetic. This is reflected in their furniture that has proven most popular so far with their Vancouver customers, says Elpa.

“We’ve got a few swivel armchairs that are really popular, they’re tufted and velvet and come in two colours: turquoise and beige. The one we keep selling out of is a corduroy material, and velvet as well. Along with a high back arm chair with a very mid-century look,” he says.

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