26 Tips For Effective Commercial Interior Design

26 Tips For Effective Commercial Interior Design

What makes people stay when it comes to in-store browsing? Commercial interior design can make or break the number of sales you make, which is why it is important to get it right. 

In this guide, we will be taking you through everything you need to keep in mind when it comes to best practices in the world of commercial interior design. The in-store experience is like no other. The ability to try things on, test things in person, touch and taste a product cannot be replicated from your phone or laptop, which is why we’ve gathered these tips to help you get your interior design in order.

1.  Make a good impression in the “decompression space”

The decompression space, also known as the decompression zone is an area roughly around three to fifteen feet that your customers will first step into when they come inside. Whether that’s a waiting area in a restaurant or a promotional display in a shop, make sure the first thing they see is pleasant and discourages them to leave.

Here are three ways you can achieve this:

Decompression space done in two ways:

  • Store entrances - depending on your merchandising priorities, you may want to showcase newly arrived products or push a promotion. Whatever you choose, ensure your displays are organised and tidy so it doesn’t put the customer off from browsing

  • Restaurant waiting areas - ensure there are seats when customers come inside to give them a sense of comfort and hospitality right away, especially there is a chance they may have to wait a while

2. Organise “right”

Research has found that the majority of people turn right when they enter a building. In retail settings, you can use this to strategically place signage to guide your customers to the right and take them to displays and point of sale counters. The logic behind this makes sense, considering roughly 90% of the world is right handed, and will be more likely to reach things with their hands.

3. Figure out your mood lighting

Strike a balance between keeping your customers in the dark with poorly-lit interiors and dizzy bright lights. Whilst luxury stores and some restaurants may have darker lighting to create ambience, a DIY store may be more brightly lit so people can read product labels or assembly directions clearly.

Take your branding and ideal customer persona in mind and cater to them accordingly.

4. Update your lighting

No matter what hue or intensity your lights are, ensure that you are using up to date technology. LED lights can allow you to save on electricity, whilst looking considerably less unsightly than the old school fluorescent tube variety.

5. Try way-finding signs

IKEA is among the many stores that have taken a way-finding approach to the in-store customer experience. This could be as simple as painting arrows on the floor, or, if you are planning on changing your store layout multiple times, using a projector from the ceiling to point way-finding arrows onto the ground as IKEA have done.

The advantages of taking a way-finding approach is that it almost compels customers to follow your chosen route. IKEA have done this in a way that people take a trip around the entire store before reaching the checkout. This can help you to maximise sales, as a customer could walk past a product that they were not previously considering.

6. Make it accessible

Take into consideration the fact that people may have different accessibility needs. Installing ramps for wheelchair users and handlebars in changing rooms are simple ways that you can create an in-store experience suitable for everyone.

7. Biophilia pays off

Biophilia is more than just a trend. The science behind it also backs up how it can help you boost in-store sales. Biophilia is a principle that suggests humans have an innate connection to nature. In commercial interior design, biophilic design has been used in offices to improve well being and productivity. 

As well as improving air quality and reducing stress, in retail, biophilic design has been found to increase sales. This study found that biophilic design elements such as plants made customers spend 25% more in-store.


8. Don’t forget a temperature check

Anything relating to the senses is also likely to have an impact on how customers perceive your brand - it’s not all about design! Ensure that the temperature inside is set to a comfortable level and adjust this according to the weather. Too stuffy or cold of an interior are both likely to put people off staying inside your shop or restaurant for long.

9. Slow down

Ideally you don’t want your customers to be in a rush when they visit. Think about your store layout which can help to slow people down and give them a chance to take in all of your products.

Some store layout ideas you could consider experimenting with include:

  • Free flow

  • Herringbone

  • Grid

  • Loop

10. Beware of clutter

Clutter from a psychological point of view can lead to a sensory overload and can even be off-putting to a consumer. Think about the way some stores can look in the middle of a large promotional event or sale - upon seeing organised shelves and racks, customers may not want to bother going through the effort of getting through the mess.

The opposite of this can be also said for empty shelves, so make sure your stock is regularly replenished, and that you have enough storage space on the shop floor to have an adequate amount out.

11. Make space

With the current COVID-19 pandemic calling for social distancing, this has never been more important when it comes to commercial interior design.

In a retail setting this could mean splitting some of your merchandise in-store and some of it online, so that your floor space isn’t crowded and can allow people to browse whilst respecting social distancing practices. Consider having shelves and displays that aren’t too close to each other so customers can get past each other safely.

Ensure your workers have ample desk space to avoid clutter and the feeling of being caged in. With Covid-19 in mind, should the lack of office space be an issue, you could consider staggering shift times and asking some workers to work from home, and alternating who comes in throughout the week.

12. Use your senses

As previously mentioned, senses are just as pivotal to commercial interiors as design elements are. Gentle background music can add ambience, demonstrations in store can give customers a hands-on experience, strategically using lighting can help you to highlight certain products, and if your brand has the appropriate products, even taste samples can add something memorable to their experience.

13. Use light, texture and pattern wisely

Head over to our guide on The Psychology of Interior Design to see how different kinds of light, texture and pattern can affect how your brand is perceived.

14. Display your merchandise strategically

Whether you are trying to promote a new product or pushing old stock out, be sure to differentiate products that you want customers to notice. That could mean putting last minute buys near point of sale areas, or clearly signmarking where your new arrivals are. 

Bottom line? Don’t keep your customers guessing and make it obvious that you want to push a particular product by displaying them accordingly.

15. Design with purpose

When it comes to commercial interior design, no two places are the same. Branding varies from company to company, and your interior design should reflect that.

Is your restaurant a place that wants to facilitate conversation? You could consider centring your interior design around big tables for groups and have the bar on one side.

Want to instill some peace and quiet in your book store? Design quiet reading pods for your customers to sit in so they can browse and immerse themselves in a great read.

Your interior design is likely to be influenced by your brand’s identity and goals, so don’t forget to design with purpose.

16. Don’t hide anything

Arrange your displays so product lines aren’t hiding behind one and other. Keep everything within the sight line of your customers.

17. Get tech savvy

We’re in an internet age, so getting to grips with technology is the standard for many stores to keep ahead of the curve. Customers want experiences, and we live in a world where 73% of consumers in the UK and America have said that they are more likely to purchase from a brand after participating in a brand experience.

Why not consider having QR codes on your products so customers can scan them on their phones and read reviews of them? You could even add them to your menus so customers can look up nutritional information.

Fashion retail has also seen the use of virtual and augmented reality technology. For example, GAP launched an app that allows you to point your phone at a product and see a model wearing the item, and also has a fitting room feature so you can virtually try clothes on without visiting a store. 

These technology initiatives in particular will be useful to integrate in commercial interior design alongside managing COVID-19, as it reduces the chances of people spreading the virus whilst trying on clothes.

18. Get your acoustics right

Another aspect of senses you shouldn’t overlook when it comes to commercial interiors is how sound travels within the premises. Avoid blaring loud music or having appliances that emit a lot of noise as this can be distracting to your customers. In an office it is also likely that sub-optimal acoustics could get in the way of productivity, so keep this in mind.

You might want to consider sound-absorbing panels if noise pollution is getting in the way of your interior design goals - our acoustic solutions can blend in with your aesthetic without ruining your decor.

19. Don’t forget the outdoors

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but visitors will absolutely make their first impressions at what they see on the outside before they come inside. Are your window displays up to date and organised? Are there any barriers to the entrance? The fruits of your labour when it comes to interior design could be cancelled out if the outside of your office, store or restaurant isn’t appealing.

20. Keep displays up to date

This goes without saying, but taking down date specific promotional material could be easily overlooked.

21. Consider your budget

Both interior designers and brands work with budget constraints in mind. How can you deliver a  project without breaking the bank?

More often than not, natural materials such as wood can be difficult to maintain. In high traffic areas you probably won’t want to spend time and money on constantly replacing wooden panels and shelves. 

Luckily, budget-friendly alternatives such as laminate sheets and melamine boards exist, and come in a variety of natural finishes, from wood to marble and even metal.

Read our guide on what makes laminate sheets so great

Browse our melamine boards and laminate sheets now - free samples available!


22. Be consistent with your brand identity

Your interior design should reflect your brand. Does your brand embody minimalism, or does it go all out with its colour scheme? What is the culture of your office? Is it young and vibrant, or sophisticated and polished? Your customers shouldn’t feel a disconnect between your brand and your interiors, so opt for a minimalist palette if that’s what you’re all about!

23. Grab attention with a feature wall

Another way to slow your customers down and get them to notice a product is by setting up a feature wall. This is typically one wall that, for example, has a contrasting texture or colour scheme compared to the rest of the interior. If you are looking at highlighting a particular promotion, why not experiment with a pop of colour on a feature wall to make it stand out?

A feature wall could also work well in office interior design - you could use the space as a bulletin board, display awards or even illustrate a timeline of your company’s history.

24. Use mirrors and glass displays to create illusion of space

Not everyone has the luxury of space, but don’t let that stop you in your interior design journey. Strategically place mirrors to add depth. A glass display cabinet can create the illusion of space, whilst being incredibly versatile in providing both a luxury and minimalist finish to your interior.

25. Choose the right layout for your needs

Earlier we spoke briefly about how important it is to slow your customers down to ensure that they can take in products and displays without rushing. Let's take a look at the main store layouts in more detail.

  • Free flow - This approach has no fixed layout and allows customers to wander around. It is ideal for smaller spaces.

  • Herringbone - Have a space that is long and narrow? The herringbone design is a great alternative that also suits smaller settings, too. Herringbone layouts can be found in warehouses and DIY stores.

  • Grid - If you have more room to work with and want to display as many products as possible, then the grid is a great option. You can find this at supermarkets where it’s less about creative displays and more about how much you can display.

  • Loop - Infamously considered as the IKEA approach, this approach is ideal for maximum product exposure, as it takes customers through every section.

26. Get creative with displays

From floating shelves, to bookshelf style shelf cabinets, carousels, drawers and even suspending wares from the ceiling, think outside of the box and experiment with different arrangements.

Looking for cost-effective and stylish surface solutions for your space? Bring your commercial interior design to life with Geaves and get in touch today on 01245 329922.