Luxury at Every Price Point

Photo looks through the kitchen and dining areas of  a home. Floor is a dark wood. Color scheme is neutral (grays, white, silver, glass). Large window on the left allows light to flood the room. In the center of he photo is a small sitting area with 2 chairs facing a wall mounted television. The designers created an exciting design using finishes within the buyer’s budget.

The Nationals 2018 Best Interior Merchandising Gold Award winners have sales prices from the upper 200,000’s to over 1.5 million dollars. Despite the difference in price, they have several things in common.

Today's shopper has come to expect sophisticated design everywhere they shop for home furnishings, from Target to by-appointment-only specialty stores. The award-winning merchandisers rose to the challenge of creating a luxury feel for shoppers on a budget, and for the higher-end buyer, creating a home that blurs the line between indoor and outdoor living, making every day feel like a holiday.

Here are the winners, with some of the judges' comments.

Best Interior Merchandising of a Model Priced Under $300,000

Avion at Denver Connection, Horizon Collection, 22A1
Builder: William Lyon Homes
Interiors: Possibilities for Design

This model home has a clear target market: a confident, single woman who is design-driven and needs affordability. With just three areas to furnish (two bedrooms and a combined kitchen/dining/great room space), the merchandisers had to quickly capture the heart of this buyer. The challenge was to create exciting design with finish packages that were within the buyer’s budget.

The home's tailored, neutral design uses soft gray, crisp white, and glass accents to ground the great room while keeping dining area open and bright. The art work maximizes length of room by leveraging raspberry contrast to draw the eye and capture full length of space. An oversized dining-table accessory draws attention away from the absence of a light fixture. The trim detail on the TV wall can be easily replicated by the buyer. It evokes a classic style without complication, adding texture and depth to entire space.

The master bedroom must immediately connect to this buyer and create a "must-have" emotion. A very modern execution of white-on-white combines a design-centric chandelier and sophisticated art to turn a small room into a glamorous retreat. This buyer may need a roommate, so the second bedroom’s design captures incorporates an upbeat, orange accent and bold artwork to signify personality.

All paint was part of the builder’s offering: No custom colors were used. All finishes were packages provided by builder. This makes the high design achievable by the buyer at this price point.

"Wow! This project is great on a budget," the judges said. "Merchandising to include the roommate, and all the cute details created something beautiful and attainable. The buyer will like it, and she can have it."

Best Interior Merchandising of a Model Priced $300,000 To $500,000

Waters Edge Waterford
Vineyard, Utah
Builder: Woodside Homes
Interiors: Kimberly Timmons Interiors (KTI)

This model home was designed with a large family in mind. To appeal to the cultural preferences of Utah buyers, the merchandising included a music room. Rustic simplicity in the furnishings, combined with soothing, airy color choices provide a refined elegance and uncluttered backdrop for artwork and accessories. This peaceful union brings a sense of tranquility.

The spacious kitchen opens into the main living space, making the whole room live large. Varying shades of charcoal, stone and smoky hues appear throughout the home. Natural linens, in combination with heavily textured fabrics and rugs, add warmth and comfort which make the great room feel cozy, even with its two-story ceilings.

Subtly themed kid's rooms create memory points without detracting from the overall fresh feel of the home. A custom-designed, built-in bunk bed showcases ample space for a large family while adding an exclusive feature.

"The design of the home is very sophisticated," the judges said. "The addition of the custom bunk is just awesome."

Best Interior Merchandising of a Model Priced $500,000 to $700,000

Flatiron Meadows - The Ralston
Builder: Toll Brothers
Interiors: Possibilities for Design

Located within an hour of ski resorts, this model targets luxurious living for an active, sophisticated family. Mountain modern design combines high-country details, contemporary edges and a dash of fun.

Luxurious details include a herringbone entry floor, dark-stained floating staircase and metal-anchored cable railings. A stacked-stone wall detail with stained wood surround compliments high-volume entry drama and is duplicated in the family room, creating a full-wall artistic element.

The merchandisers paired comfortable sofas with leather and iron "statement" chairs, adding masculine detailing to an otherwise soft gathering space. Design elements, including gray-washed, slab front cabinets, concrete-inspired backsplash, wood ceiling beams and an organic kitchen table, capture mountain design.

The dining room is important to the target market for this home, so the merchandisers called attention to it by including ceiling detail, exposed-bulb lighting, a mirrored wine rack and a tile wall.

"Everything in the merchandising works for this house," the judges said.

Best Interior Merchandising of a Model Priced $700,000 to $850,000

Granite Heights - The Quartz
Las Vegas
Builder: Toll Brothers
Interiors: HRI Design

This home’s target market is an affluent, move-up family with an affinity for clean lines, lavish indoor and outdoor entertaining, and discriminating taste.

The open and generous floorplan includes custom features in every space. The color palette of rich indigos, sapphires, linens and crisp diamond whites is complimented by collectible gray-washed furnishings.

The great room includes a full-height marble fireplace and custom-stained beam ceiling detail, emphasizing the voluminous 14-foot ceilings. Contrasting warm-wood cabinetry, an entertainer-sized marble slab waterfall island and chrome accents further speak to this family’s penchant for luxury.

To emphasize the indoor/outdoor experience, multi-side corner pocket doors open the entire back end of the home to a beautiful covered loggia which can be used year-round. The feature is coupled with wood-like tile flooring and continued stained beam ceiling detail to seamlessly marry the interior to the outside living space.

On entering the expansive master retreat, the buyer is greeted with hand-painted wallpaper, custom floating nightstands and cove lighting in the coffer for dramatic affect. The ultimate statement master bathroom showcases floating vanities and suspended mirrors layered upon a dramatic, agate-inspired, one-of-a-kind art paneling treatment.

"The blue swirl wall works in this tastefully dramatic home," the judges said. "It’s Vegas without being gaudy."

Best Interior Merchandising of a Model Priced $850,000 to $1 Million

Baldwin, Md.
Builder: Toll Brothers
Marketing Director: Allison Nugent
Interiors: HRI Design

This transitional estate combines modern sophistication with classic design.

The merchandiser’s objective was to design a home for a larger family relocating to a sought-after neighborhood with excellent schools and recreation. To compliment the brand of the luxury home builder, the merchandiser chose a color scheme of silver sage, linen and taupe, with notes of charcoal and crisp whites.

The kitchen showcases soft dove cabinetry, a stained-beam ceiling, stainless-steel appliances, and a marble waterfall island complete with vegetable sink and ample prep zone for entertaining. Hand-scraped hardwood flooring throughout the main level unites the open concept kitchen, great room, living room and dining spaces.

The grand entrance showcases full-height white paneling emphasizing the voluminous ceiling, and is juxtaposed with a high-contrast rich wood staircase, and accented by an opulent beaded chandelier for dramatic affect. The crisp, white shiplap creates layers of textural interest in the master bedroom. The furniture in the home was selected to appeal to this home buyer’s discriminating taste.

Buyers responded to the on-trend design and sophisticated details and breathtaking beauty, leading to strong sales. The judges complimented the merchandiser’s ability to create a cozy space. "Despite the home’s large size, the home doesn’t feel massive," they said.

Best Interior Merchandising of a Model Priced $1 million to $1.5 Million

Arlington at Parkside – Monterrey
Lake Forest, Calif.
Builder: Toll Brothers
Marketing Director: Dottie Sweeney
Interiors: Design Line Interiors

This coastal-inspired design brings the beach inland to help the buyers envision a resort escape in their own home. The expansive entry introduces the contemporary yet timeless style that continues through the home with geometric paneling and a capiz shell chandelier.

Palm-leaf ceiling fans, marine-inspired blue tones, and sandy taupe porcelain plank flooring create the feeling of a tropical retreat. Weather-worn wood and metal finishes are seen in the dining room furniture, coastal white extended cabinetry and glass pendants define the kitchen space. The continuation of the faux wood porcelain to the exterior expands the perceived interior square footage, while accentuating ambiguity between interiors and the outdoors.

The master bedroom features antique mirror insets at the headboard wall, reflecting the natural beauty of the teal beaded chandelier. The master bathroom incorporates floor-to-ceiling natural shell mosaic, limestone countertops, and silver-leaf vanity mirrors.

The merchandising team created a "tech loft" secondary space to appeal to the target market. The loft includes a built-in genius bar and three-dimensional metallic wall panels. The mermaid-themed bedroom inspires imagination with its custom painted art and built-in loft bed complete with rope railings and a "bubble ladder." Carefully selected materials and custom elements combine throughout, enticing buyers with an exceptionally designed home.

The judging panel commended the merchandising team on a "memorable home with cute touches."

Best Interior Merchandising of a Model Priced Over $1.5 Million

Skye Palm Springs - Plan 2
Palm Springs, Calif.
Builder: Woodbridge Pacific Group
Marketing Director: Karen Spargo
Interiors: Chameleon Design

This bold departure from other model interiors pays homage to Desert Modernism, postwar Palm Springs’ rich midcentury modern architecture. The design evokes the bygone elegance of the Rat Pack and other Hollywood icons who favored this desert oasis as their swinging playground.

A vintage avocado-and-aqua palette is enriched with velvet throws and faux fur while gold and brass accents add glamour. Artful interplay between the indoor and outdoor space is evident in the lounge, which draws attention to the lavish pool court, where a signature sculpture and suspended seating basket compliment versatile furniture. Unadorned sliders also permit seamless transition to outdoor leisure.

The nostalgic design feels fresh, designed to appeal to sophisticated, male baby boomers in an area where 45% of the permanent population self-identifies as LGBTQ and views their homes as entertainment centers.

This home has many features that make this home ideal for entertaining. The judges noted that this was the first home they saw with a dedicated bar area. In addition, "The memorable, locally produced art really appeals to the target market," they said.


Anne Ladewig