Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tips for a Narrow Booth - Break Up the Long Walls

When you have a long, narrow booth, the booth can feel like a bowling alley.  Bowling alley booths still get customers in, but they may breeze through pretty quickly or they may just glance from the aisle, believing they can see everything without entering the booth.  There are things you can do to make the booth feel wider, break up the long walls, and create more interest.  You can get customers in your booth and keep them there longer by using a few tricks.

This post came about when Megan asked for suggestions for the bookshelves in her booth.  You can read the post with tips for her bookshelves HERE.  You can read the post where I talked about what to do on her short, back wall HERE.  This is the 3rd and last post in this series. It focuses on the long walls and wraps up with a few ideas specifically for Megan.   A photo of Megan's booth is at the bottom of this post.

To widen a narrow booth and take the emphasis off the length, create several display groupings (vignettes) on the long wall.   Try not to create one long display on either of the long walls - that adds to the bowling alley feel.

Long pieces of furniture, such as a sofa or long table, are better on the short wall, if they will fit.  Placing long furniture on the long wall will make the booth seem longer, which means, hello, bowling alley.

If possible, try putting some of your furniture slightly away from the wall on an angle, rather than aligning it all with the wall.  Instead of a long straight walkway, the path will zig-zag a bit, urging customers to slow down and look this way and that.

The photo below shows a long walkway with furniture in groupings n a diagonal.  If all the pieces were arranged side by side in two long parallel rows, the result wouldn't be near as interesting. The groupings placed diagonally truly invites one to stop at each display and browse.  I'd LOVE to browse in this store!


This example doesn't angle all that much, but with the different furniture depths, it still creates a slight zigzag path which reduces the bowling alley effect.  If a booth or walkway through a booth is very narrow, sometimes you just can't angle so much.

This is a nice angled grouping.  It would nice as one of the vignettes on a long wall.  An arrangement like this would be pretty and welcoming towards the front of a booth.

On the short wall, the emphasis was on creating displays with horizontal lines.  For the long walls, you want just the opposite - lots of vertical lines.  If groupings and items on the long walls emphasize vertical lines and height, the booth will feel wider.  Not everything needs to be vertical - we don't want a line of tall soldiers side by side.  But each grouping needs to have some tall elements or height.

Look for items that are tall and skinny or that are displayed vertically.  This grouping feels very vertical!
Link points to blog no longer in service.

Ladders are a bit versatile.  You can emphasize the horizontal (if the rungs are prominent) or the vertical when the rungs are put to use like in the example below.
Dress forms are also quite versatile.  The one below reads tall and thin and would be great on a long wall. If you put a wide tiered petticoat or tutu on her, she would have enough horizontal lines to work nicely on the short wall.
Don't have anything tall?  Create your own tall display by stacking!  This would be a wonderful display to put towards to front of a narrow booth - over to the side, angled just a bit to welcome customers.  This isn't a booth photo, but I get my inspiration from all over!

A mantel has a very strong horizontal line at the top, but with a bit of work, it can be arranged in a vignette to read as vertical. The one in the photo below uses a door to help with that.  Also, a mantel is not very deep, so it will help keep the booth open. 

Mirrors on a long wall can give the illusion the booth is wider than it is.  A large mirror or a grouping of smaller mirrors can add a big impact. Be careful about what the mirror will be reflecting.  It's best to reflect something very pretty.  If a mirror reflects a cluttery (or less attractive) part of your booth, then rethink the location.  

There are several options for floor treatments that are helpful in a long narrow booth.   A rug with horizontal stripes or a horizontal weave would be nice.  A round rug would also work nicely.  The  round shape would help make the room less rectangular and break up the abundance of straight lines.

One or two area rugs placed on a diagonal would be great.  If you only have one area rug, using it near the center of the booth will bring the focus into the center of the booth and de-emphasize the length.

This rug in the photo below is at an angle.  A rug at an angle is more interesting and inviting than the typical parallel to the walls placement.  The angled door in the corner and the round table are also nice in this booth.


Here's a look at Megan's booth -

I have a few suggestions for Megan using mostly what she has.

Megan's 3 bookcases are functional but used all in a row on the long wall emphasizes the length of the booth.  She needs those bookshelves, but maybe she could just use two of  them on left and create a welcoming vignette at a slight angle in the front.  Doing that will help the booth feel more open.

One possible opening vignette (to go where the first bookcase is now) could involve her typewriter.  It could be set on top of something - a chair, a small desk or table, crates...   A piece of paper could be rolled thru with enough sticking out to have a message.  The message does NOT need to be created using the typewriter.  I recommend printing out something from a computer in nice big letters.

The third bookcase could be moved to the right side and worked in as it's own vignette.

At least one of the bookcases could have one shelf removed, around eye level) to create a taller display area.  This idea was described in the first post.

Megan's bookshelves are already backed with a neutral paper or fabric.  She could keep that backing or reback them for a bit more zing - whatever Megan feels will capture the style she wants for her booth.  This was also described in the first post

Megan has mirror on back wall.  It's not so big that it's crucial, but generally speaking, mirrors will be better on the long walls.

The map might make a nice focal point on the short wall - hung as high as possible.  It's bright and cheery and wide. It would beckon customers into the booth.  The globes should be in the back as well.  Hopefully soon, Megan will bring in a kitchen table or to sell.  That would look good under the map and the globes could sit on top. The suitcases could be worked into the vignette, which, by the way, now has a TRAVEL THEME.  One suitcase could be open on top and something travel-ish could be displayed inside.

 A trunk or coffee table would work under the map as well.  

Until Megan comes across a table or trunk, she might be able to use a folding table or wood over two small sawhorses.  If the temporary table doesn't look so nice, it could be covered with burlap or a short tablecloth or draped with maps.  A temporary table does not have to look tacky!

As Megan gets more furniture for her booth, a few angled vignettes on the long wall where the map is would get customers to zig zag a bit through the booth and they would browse a bit more.  Since the booth is very narrow, Megan can't angle too much.  The walkway needs to feel open and comfortable.  A confining or cluttered walkway feels uncomfortable and sometimes hazardous and that will keep many customers out of a booth.

Whew!  That's all the tips I can think of for now.

By the way, even though I had many tips for Megan, I do not want to give the impression that I think her booth is wrong.  The look of a booth is in a constant state of change.  Vendors don't always have time to create the perfect look.  I know very well that sometimes vendors are doing good just to drop something off and work it in.  Also, when a vendor is first getting started in a booth (or has just sold a bunch of inventory) creating a good look can be tricky.  Added to that, sometimes what seems great during the planning stage, turns out less than great in reality.   I threw out LOTS of tips.  Megan can browse through them and try out any that seem right for her.  She may not want to move those bookcases.  That's fine - really!  Maybe she'll remove a shelf from them here and there for a few interesting vignettes.  I hope some of my ideas will work her her - and for anyone else who  has a narrow booth!

If you have more suggestions for Megan (or anyone with a long narrow booth), feel free to leave a comment!  If you have photos of a narrow booth that has been done well (or your narrow booth that you transformed using any of my tips) - feel free to post them over on the Vintage Show Off Facebook page!