Take It For a Spin

Men laying new hardwood flooring

Photo courtesy of Insperience Studio

If you have ever wished that you could test-drive a house before buying, your wish has just about been granted. Although homes themselves are not open to auditions, the multitude of showrooms in and around Atlanta can make the home building and remodeling experience one filled with testing, sampling and imagining.

New educational showrooms are popping up everywhere, and the more helpful dont just hold the products, but include live vignettes in which visitors can roll up their sleeves and bake cookies, wash laundry and saut?? shrimp. Showrooms come in all sizesfrom 3,000 square feet to 40,000 square feetand provide a place for homeowners to see the working products, from appliances to cabinets to flooring, to help them more easily make decisions about what will best suit their needs at home.


Photo courtesy of HADCO

Within the walls of Insperience Studio in Buckhead, homeowners are encouraged to try out the kitchen and laundry-room appliances from Whirlpool and KitchenAid. The 12,000-square-foot facility features refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens, ranges, laundry products and countertop appliances within seven kitchen vignettes and the Family Studio. Guests can make a meal or do some laundry on site to test the appliances. The experience begins with a consultation with a selection consultant who helps assess the familys lifestyle and culinary needs. Next, guests are taken through a guided tour of the appliances and permitted to try them. While Insperience does not sell appliances directly, countertop appliances and home-related products are available at Insperience Studio Store, along with a bridal registry.

In addition to the cooking that takes place during the tours, Insperience also hosts events like cooking classes and demonstrations such as pasta-rolling so guests can get an idea of how to make the most of their new equipment. Insperience recently appointed Executive Chef Joel Saxon, formerly of Cherokee Town and Country Club, who will be leading a collection of hands-on classes.

Opened in the summer of 2003, the Sub-Zero/Wolf Showroom and Culinary Center in Duluth includes a live demonstration kitchen, wine-storage gallery, laundry room, billiard room and outdoor barbeque area. In addition, eight kitchen stations, fully functional and decorated in a variety of styles from traditional to contemporary feature Sub-Zero refrigeration and wine storage, Wolf cooking appliances, Asko dishwashers and laundry appliances and Independent and Best range hoods. More recently, Sub-Zero/Wolf Showroom has added KWC water appliances, bath and shower systems, which are high-end products manufactured in Switzerland. The addition of the new line has sparked the addition of a new roomone dedicated to KWC.

Photo courtesy of G&L Marble

The 14,000-square-foot showroom also has an executive chef on staff and holds a variety of cooking classes. During tours, the chef teaches guests how to make just about anything, including how to melt chocolate.

Culinary enthusiasts will feel right at home in a HADCO showroom. The Suwanee location has been open eight years, and a showroom in Roswell opened in April 2004. HADCO began in 1952, as an appliance service provider; those roots are still present in the events that take place at the showroom, particularly in the care and use classes, which instruct appliance owners on how to care for appliances: techniques for cleaning stainless steel and grills and the best cookware for appliances. HADCO showrooms are dedicated to kitchens and have an entire wall of ovens with more than 150 appliances on display in each location.

Cabinets and countertops
Cabinetcraft, a local manufacturer that handles everything from design to installation, retains showrooms in Duluth and Smyrna where visitors can wander through vignettes, open and close doors and drawers, compare countertop colors and tour the manufacturing operation. Vignettes also feature a range of design styles and features, such as the Vintage Maple display with a warm ginger stain on maple with accent glazing, a granite island with a stainless steel under-mount sink and a Moen faucet with decorative corbel accents. Seeing the cabinets along with the other features of the room brings ideas to life, even for the imaginatively challenged.

Photo courtesy of Cabinetcraft

People love to browse magazines to get ideas, says Suzann Thompson, sales and marketing manager for Cabinetcraft. Our vignettes and the hands-on experience of visiting our showroom give [visitors] the optimal visual experience of seeing the finished product.

In addition to seeing cabinets, homeowners can test a variety of countertop options at G&L Marble on Armour Drive. Relocated from their well-known Miami Circle showroom, which they outgrewthe new showroom boasts 40,000 square feetG&L Marble includes vignettes like a kitchen area for countertop viewing; a waterfall with onyx, lights and slate that can substitute for a fireplace; arched doorway openings and a conference room with a blue sodalite table. For peace of mind during browsing, G&L Marble also has a childrens play area (not made with marble!).

Renovation and remodeling
Renovation and remodeling specialists have jumped on the showroom bandwagon, finding that a showroom is a superb way to highlight their talents and abilities. Cornerstone Design is a kitchen and bath design firm with a 3,000-square-foot showroom that has contemporary, transitional and French country areas, which makes the atmosphere one of a home more than a showroom.

Photo courtesy of Southern Styles Remodeling Inc.

We did all the design work in the showroom, says Anne Keene of Cornerstone. This is a good representation of what we can do. The showroom even includes a Whirlpool tub with working plumbing. However, no one has yet volunteered to take a dip.

In addition to translating design, showrooms can be especially helpful for anyone who has a hard time imagining space. At Southern Styles showroom, its easy to decide whether to choose between a standard 42-inch walkway, or a more narrow one. The primary function of the showroom is to aid clients in making decisions about everything from tiles and carpet to countertops and paint. Usually, a homeowner would have to visit many different stores, but the showroom provides a one-stop shop.

It seems the days of simple paint wheels and squares of carpet might be coming to an end. With the variety of showrooms open in Atlanta, homeowners today can make educated choices about what will work best for them and their homes.


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