Showing Home Entertainment Options

by WOHe

In the sales profession, the challenge of tapping alternative
markets is never ending. Such is the dilemma for kitchen and bath
professionals: How to branch into areas of the home outside the
kitchen and bath, and how to display such possibilities in the
showroom. With American families investing more time and money in
their homes, family gathering spaces hold a wealth of

So what exactly is a “family gathering space?” Maybe it’s a
great room, encompassing the dining area and kitchen as well as the
informal family gathering area. Perhaps it’s the comfortable nook
tucked out of view in the back part of the home. It could even be
the “bonus” room over the garage, or a finished basement
“recreation room.” No matter where it is, the family gathering
space is a place for sharing time with loved ones, doing things we
enjoy: watching a movie, surfing the Internet, playing video games
or losing ourselves in that great American pastime television.

Display Guidelines
For this reason, the
built-in home entertainment center is a great addition to a
showroom display area.

Perhaps you’ve shied away from addressing this market because
audio and video technology keep changing. While this is true, it’s
still possible to take advantage of the possibilities within the
home entertainment market. To best suit your customers’ needs, stay
informed about the latest technology and consumer trends, and
design your displays to fit your local market.

To get the maximum impact from your home entertainment
investment, keep a few rules in mind when planning your

  • Know your market. As always, this rule is of utmost importance
    when considering changes/additions to your showroom’s product and
    service offerings. Do you have the customers who will be willing to
    spend the money a home entertainment package requires? Do you have
    the talent and/or product offerings in-house, or can you partner
    with a home entertainment design specialist to deliver what your
    customers want?
  • Wherever possible, incorporate home entertainment options into
    your showroom. Ideally, at least one or two displays should be
    dedicated solely to home entertainment. But, knowing how precious
    space usually is, modifying existing displays or reception areas to
    include functional home entertainment options might be more
    realistic. Consider installing a plasma screen TV (perhaps on loan
    from your home theater partner, see below) in a multi-use area so
    that it can be used for video conferencing, staff training or
    consumer product education. A similar effect on a smaller (and more
    budget-friendly) scale can be accomplished with a 32-inch TV housed
    within a wall storage configuration or an even smaller TV within a
    kitchen display.
  • At the very least, display the basics. To effectively display
    basic home entertainment for the entry-level price point, consider
    a stand-alone configuration that includes a tall cabinet to house a
    tube television, stackable components and CD/DVD media storage. It
    could include additional cabinets that flank the main unit, but not
    necessarily. While the TV should be concealed behind solid pocket
    doors, components should be covered by glass to facilitate remote
    control function. Other options to consider are a cabinet-mounted
    TV swivel and speaker-cloth door inserts.

The most important thing to remember is that customers at this
price point will shop around in an “apples to apples” comparison at
kitchen and bath showrooms as well as office supply stores and
stereo or appliance outlets. Therefore, home entertainment units
must be priced right to capture this market.

n Set your business apart by offering options in product and
design. Because customers at the mid-range price point work closely
with the designer to create their own space, competition from
office or appliance stores is not as common. However, it is
worthwhile to display and offer options that allow flexibility and
functionality. An example might be a trim kit that can be used to
accommodate larger tube television units, should the customer
choose to upgrade within a few years. Little “extras” such as this
give customers peace of mind and increased value for their

At the mid-range price point, remodeling or new construction
consumers are probably seeking a slightly more upscale, stylish
configuration that fits their busy lifestyle. This unit likely will
house not only the TV and stereo, but also a computer/desk area or
possibly a video game center. One good configuration spans an
entire wall of the family space. Its dominant presence within the
room allows the unit to become an attractive focal point or an
architectural anchor. Aside from the functional necessities of an
efficient entertainment center, remember to include fashionable
molding treatments and other adornments for that built-in furniture

  • Partner with a home entertainment specialist. Especially at the
    higher-end price point, forging partnerships with such
    professionals is a good way to build your clientele. If possible,
    arranging “satellite showrooms” through a mutual display trade and
    referral agreement increases both partners’ potential for reaching
    additional customers. In addition, displaying your partner’s
    upscale home theater equipment in your showroom allows you the
    opportunity to work with costly items, such as plasma televisions,
    which you might not choose to purchase for your own displays.

The sky is the limit at the upper end of the pricing spectrum.
Along with plasma televisions, built-in surround sound systems and
hidden home theater components comes the possibility for outfitting
non-traditional spaces, such as the master bedroom, with
extravagant entertainment systems. While these highly specialized
spaces are almost always planned for new construction, at this
price point it is also possible to include them as part of a
remodeling project. Such projects provide unique opportunities for
kitchen and bath designers to work with their home theater partners
to create one-of-a-kind solutions.

Out of Sight

According to Matt Ratzlaff, designer and salesperson for Fresno
Land Inc., a custom home design and construction firm in Fresno,
CA, an emerging consumer trend for upscale home entertainment is
keeping it out of sight. Ratzlaff says clients who want their home
entertainment equipment hidden from view can disguise even a 40- to
60-inch wide plasma screen TV. Because the flat-screen units are
only a few inches deep, they can be inset into the wall within an
art niche over the fireplace and hidden behind a curtain or

Camouflaging the television redirects the focus within a room
toward another visual centerpiece, Ratzlaff adds.

Another advantage to the plasma TV is that it requires only
electricity and a video feed to operate, so audio/video components
need not be adjacent to it. Homeowners can house components within
a unit that does not look like an entertainment center, such as a
buffet or linen cabinet. The same goes for normally bulky speakers
now six-speaker surround systems are built flush to blend with the

Originally very costly, the price of plasma TV units has already
decreased as much as 80 percent since their introduction. Now about
$3,000, the cost of plasma televisions is expected to continue to
decrease in the coming years, increasing their popularity. But
until then, traditional home entertainment configurations for tube
television sets remain in demand. These include stand-alone units
as well as wall-to-wall built-in configurations that serve as an
architectural anchor within the room.

The home entertainment unit is just one part of the family
gathering space. With consumers seeking more time with family in
family gathering spaces, the possibilities for displaying home
entertainment options is limited only by your imagination and, of
course, your budget.

If you find your business lacking in any of the areas previously
mentioned, don’t despair. It’s not too late to take advantage of
the opportunities afforded by this emerging trend. Creative
thinking and effective networking can alleviate some of the space
limitations and budget difficulties you may encounter. Start your
research today and formulate your own strategic plan for capturing
your share of design projects for family gathering spaces.

Sarah Reep, CKD, ASID, CMG, is the director of design for
Middlefield, OH-based KraftMaid Cabinetry. An award-winning
designer and nationally recognized leader in the kitchen and bath
industry, Reep is a renowned speaker and educator.

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