Writing in 1995, retail shop designer Jeff Grant noted that neutral colors were best when painting walls in a retail space. Today, his company Trio Display regularly uses ultra-bright colors on the walls of their retail shop clients. Your color scheme is so important, Grant says now, that he recommends working with a professional color consultant if your product depends on color for its appeal. If a professional color consultant is outside your budget range, though, there are some basic principles and ideas you can use in deciding how to paint your retail shop.
Choose Colors That Suit Your Product
As in every other marketing decision that you make, choose colors that will enhance your brand and its appeal among your ideal customers. If your store sells children's toys and clothing, for instance, choose a palette of bright primary colors against white walls. Energetic colors like orange and yellow work well as accent colors in a store that sells sporting goods and fitness equipment, while a health food store might choose natural colors like wheat with accents in earthy browns and sage green.
Paint the Ceiling Black
Most people would never imagine painting the ceilings in their homes black, but it can work very well in a high, cavernous retail spaces. Painting the ceiling black brings it closer to the floor, and makes the space more intimate. To heighten the effect, bring the lights in lower by hanging spots or light frames a foot or two below the ceiling. As a bonus, the black offers great contrast for other fixtures or signs that hang below the ceiling, increasing their impact.
Use Color to Define Vertical Space
Color is a good way to define boundaries between displays and selling areas. In a retail store, your walls provide lots of vertical selling space, and using just one color for all of your wall shelving and display units can run everything together into one big mash-up. Instead, use color to break up the space and make each area feel like a unified whole.
Use texture and dimension as well as color to break walls into selling areas. Mount a slat wall painted bright orange against a sage green wall to attract attention to special items. Hang painted wallboard panels in a series of colors along one neutral colored wall, varying the heights and staggering the distance between them. Use the panels as backdrops for shelving units or hang display items on them to capture attention and interest.
Temper the Intensity
While bright colors attract attention and stop shoppers in their tracks, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Use high contrast and bright colors sparingly to avoid making your space look cluttered and confusing. Go ahead and paint a bright fuchsia stripe the length of one wall, and add fuchsia accents here and there throughout your store, but avoid overwhelming the space by punching the eye with the bright color at every step. Try using a single bright accent wall on which to display specialty items, but keep the remaining walls neutral, or paint floor fixtures in candy colors while keeping the walls a single dark or neutral color like chocolate brown.
- "The Budget Guide to Retail Store Planning and Design"; Jeff Grant; 1995
- TrioDisplay.com; The Retailer's Guide to Color in Design
Deb Powers is an avid urban gardener who works with a community collective to promote sustainable urban agriculture and build partnerships between local business owners and community organizations. Powers serves as a social media and marketing consultant for local non-profits and businesses, and is collaborating with a coffee roaster to publish a cookbook highlighting coffee as a culinary ingredient.