Category Archives: Marketing for Interior Design

Insider Insights from EuroCucina
Posted by:Denise Butchko,


As anyone who does it knows, connecting with industry colleagues at trade shows is one of the most fun “necessary” activities that your job requires. You get to hang out and “geek out” over what you love about what you do.

So in the spirit of a good “design geek out”, I asked three colleagues to answer the same questions about their experiences in Milan at EuroCucina.  I share mine at the end to wrap it up.

I’ve also asked for several perspectives because this show has over 400,000 attendees and 14 buildings, so no single human can cover all that ground effectively.

Here are the questions and answers they shared, along with related images and videos (yes, videos!):

Open storage
Open storage seen at EuroCucina

First up is Gary LeBlanc, Major Kitchen Accounts, Richelieu Hardware.


“The open storage really struck me. I was surprised by how much of it they were showing.”

And they showed it in open systems with aluminum frames and glass doors. In fact, there was so much of it that I figured it’s a sure bet to show up in the US” shares LeBlanc.

“But I got a different read when talking to the actual cabinet dealers. They shared that even though companies were featuring it at the show, it wouldn’t necessarily make it to the street (or average kitchen)”.  

Which sums up part of what this show is about – featuring leading edge and highly creative products to get a huge amount of feedback on the idea. That will help determine whether or not they bring it to market. And if they do, what version of it will actually reach consumers.  So it’s much like couture fashion. Show it to get attention and set trends, but filter and edit for mainstream markets.


“It’s not so much just a specific product, but a trend I’m seeing in the acceptance level of man made products. Historically, cabinet and kitchen people work with wood. Melamine has been somewhat of an unaccepted option. But as the these products have evolved to TSS (Thermostructed Surfaces), which are different than traditional melamine, there’s a wider acceptance and appeal. Because of that, I’ll focus more on the appeal of this product and drive people to purchase it” shares LeBlanc.


textured melamine
Textured and flat surfaces combined in cabinetry

And I can attest to Gary’s perspective on this. I just attended a KBDN (Kitchen Bath Design News) seminar in Detroit and the trendsetting kitchen designer presenting included in his information that designers should consider man made products in lieu of wood as a great design option. Melamine is coming out of the closet (I know, it’s TSS).


Textured melamine trending at Salone de Mobile Milano 2018

TSS is different from melamine in that it’s registered and embossed on the surface. Where there’s an appearance of a wood grain, there’s also a groove to match it. So it has a texture to it when you touch it and light reflects from it based upon the grooves.


“We saw an amazing cooktop by Franke. It had a scanner that determines what an ingredient is and what to cook with that ingredient. It also shows how to cut the item properly for the recipe and has a video of a chef cooking the recipe. And to top that off, there’s a hotspot to charge your phone and two cool spots for your beverages. Amazing. Now I don’t know that this product will make it to the market, but the tech is totally leading edge” shares LeBlanc.

On a more practical note, LeBlanc shares that “the LED strips that function as grow lights are incredible. You can grow oregano in your kitchen year round with these lights and they’re not big and hot like traditional grow lights are.”




Open shelving seen at EuroCucina
Brown and light brown shelving seen at EuroCucina 2018

That there’s a change in color palettes. Brown is the new white.


Next up on the “design geek out” train is Scott Dresner, President, Dresner Design, Chicago Illinois.


“The cabinet company I represent, Stosa, showed a much higher-end line with cooler products than ever before. They are so inventive creating solutions for needs in the market. They also developed a line for 20-somethings to compete with IKEA, which is fantastic” says Dresner.

He also mentioned motorized storage for dead corners, which he thinks is very ingenious.


“Smoked glass with metal frames for structures” is what Dresner indicates is the top thing he saw and this seems to be a popular consensus.


Black smoked glass combined with natural wood cabinetry is at the top of Dresner’s list for incorporating into his current business.


“Great new lighting inside cabinets where you don’t see light bulbs. LED, LED, LED! And finally, the insides of drawers and cabinets are lit very well. Also, motorized doors.


“That real trends are happening in Europe and what we are doing here in the US is so far behind” says Dresner.


And here’s the perspective from Australian designer Sally Hart, Clever Closet Company:


“My favorite thing is some cabinetry I saw in the Fendi space. It had texture and different embossed shapes in a deep grey shade that I loved” says Hart.

Molten finish from Fendi



“It’s hard to pinpoint any one thing. I’m a designer. My inspiration sort of melds as I take things in and then refer back to photos as projects arise” shares Hart.


Hart indicated that the coolest thing she saw is the same as what LeBlanc saw. Here’s a link to a video:



“That design is interpreted in so many different forms that the trends are irrelevant because the designers select and use of current materials is always fluid. Seeing the variation between designers is interesting.


Black and Gold Roberto Cavalli Salone de Mobile Milano 2018

The biggest trend I see is black and gold (which, if you’re connected to me on social, you know I’ve go on about). I’m sure some shades and versions of gold will grow on me and I’m sure clients will ask for it. And while I love black in a wardrobe (clothing), I’ve always found it harsh in decor.

Mix and Match Doors and Drawers Salone de Mobile Milano 2018
Mix and Match Doors and Drawers Salone de Mobile Milano 2018


The mix and match trend. It really gives bandwidth to creativity, allowing me to vary and mix simple to complex designs. And it’s what I’ll incorporate into my business because it just opens up so many new doors (punny, right?)





I’m the user of tech, certainly not the creator and reluctantly the implementer. I love what I’m seeing with lighting because it adds both beauty and function, the two most important elements of any design.

And as I continue to get the opportunity to reflect on this experience, I could sappily (and happily) say it changed my life. Because it did, and that’s a pretty tall order for an industry trade show.

It also provided direction for strategy and implementation. And that’s probably what I’d most tell other industry professionals. Get out of your shop, get away from your computer and take in what’s happening on a global level in your industry. I guarantee it will allow you to work better.

I am where design is.
I am where design is.
Venice by private water taxi
Venice by private water taxi
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Design Chicago
Posted by:Denise Butchko,

Social Media Marketing Required.


That’s the “state of design” message that dominated this 2-day design lovers event at the Merchandise Mart, even though there was plenty of design education, discussion, sharing and designer cocktails (Hibiscus and English Tea infused vodka) all around.

Amongst the designer teams from Italy to the English color experts were the NYC digital marketing professionals. And all were accompanied by video cameras and Facebook live streaming, topped off by Instagram posts and Tweets galore.

I noticed that every session related to marketing not only filled all the available seats, but had standing room only attendees filling out the rest of the showroom space.

It seems that mainstream understanding and integration have finally reached critical mass.

Bottom line is that you won’t be effective using old world marketing techniques even if old world antiques are still the passions of your client base.

Effective social media marketing is the linchpin to staying relevant and growing and branding your business.

So here’s a fun stat for you – 93% of people over the age of 35 are on Facebook.

Process that for a moment.

Then look me in the eye and tell me you see no business value in Facebook and that your audience isn’t there.

If, however, you already get that and you’re using (or have tried using) social media to market your business and ended up in the land of confusion and ineffectiveness, the following insights should clarify a few things.

Boiled down, there are really three ways to to categorize your approach to marketing.

Director of Digital for Sandow Publications,  Pam McNally, breaks it out this way:

1)Digital Marketing Companies

A “comprehensive” marketing company that supposedly can do it all. Make sure you test their social media management skills and ask for references regarding social media.


2)Content Marketing Companies

These companies put blogging at the core of their strategy. Content is king and social media are platforms for distribution. Test their social media management skills and ask for references specific to social expertise.

I would add that email marketing is part of that core blogging concept. Don’t just settle for “curated content” and automated posting. Choosing that method for execution is not going to yield you any success.


3)Social Media Marketing

This is probably what you’re looking for if your only focus is managing and distributing the content creation that you’ve already mastered.

I know very few companies in the design/build niche’ that have the art and science of generating great content mastered.

Truth is that things are way too sophisticated now to just put out “crap content”. You have to create and share things that you, yourself, would find clickable. If you’d scroll right over it in your feeds, other people are likely to do the same thing.

So this all begs the question – do you take this on internally or do you outsource?

In either case, you should know your goals and which metrics are relevant and appropriate for you to measure.

If you’re outsourcing, I would want to know what experience the agency has in your industry. Do they speak your language and understand your processes. Also, how often will they update you with information and progress and will one of their employees be doing the work or do they outsource the tasks.

So it seems “Design Chicago”, or design anywhere, goes beyond measurements and material specifications. What’s integral to selling your design work is marketing it.

And marketing it effectively involves social media.

And to end the day on a high note, one of the rock stars of the design industry, Julia Buckingham (Bucking I+D), launched her book “Modernique”. Of course I had to get my own signed copy. And my own “selfie” with her. Not just because I admire the holy heavens out of the design work she does, but because hey, it’s good marketing.

Toasting “Modernique” with author and designer Julia Buckingham


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Color affects almost everything in my life.

My mood.

My choices.

Even my thoughts.

I’m not about “the little black dress” or the “crisp white blouse”. In fact, in my closet, neither of those items exist.

There are colors that I gravitate towards (in fact, people close to me could rattle off the top 3 without giving it a second thought). But that doesn’t mean that I only find those palettes appealing.

I love seeing what’s coming in color trends and how I can incorporate some of them into my life – and into my closet.

Here’s what I see trending as I wander through the city nearest to my heart – Chicago!


Metallics are still charging ahead.

They’ve gone from “trendy” options to foundational options, which, quite frankly, I love. And I have loved for decades. My wardrobe neutrals are brushed silver/grey tones and softened copper tones. Way jazzier and expressive than black.

Edgier Hues

The power of pink goes beyond “Pink” the entertainer, but performs in the same powerful way that Pink does when she’s on stage.

And the color is moving towards being accepted as “gender neutral”. That means that my godchild (Hey Cody!) can feel confident wearing the very on trend shirt I gave him that is totally pink. Now if I could just get him to shave the beard and mustache…

Pink Has a Sister – Mauve

Banish the image in your head of the 80’s Mauve Mother-of-the-Bride dress. Because while mauve feels like “an old” color, it’s also new. You can clearly see both in this photo of a Marshall Field’s (I know, it’s Macy’s. I don’t care) floor that has mauve stone installed during the 80’s and how it meshes with the latest clothing display featuring Mauve.

And we can update the mauve not only by pairing it with brass or rose gold, but add some texture for a reptilian win on a gorgeous handbag.

Blue is Still Big

Yes, blue is still everywhere. And I’m ok with that. It’s showing brighter and more geometric.

In its softer shades, it pairs wonderfully with brass (I know, brass!). Brass started to first reveal itself in 2013 at KBIS. Now it’s major mainstream.


Ed Sheeran references aside (I’m obsessed with “Castle On The Hill”) technology has allowed sheer clothing to make amazing strides.

We’re seeing all kinds of looks that have intricate detail or strategically placed cut-outs that create looks we’ve not been able to wear before.

So, do you see anything you like?

Any favorite that you just feel compelled to bring into your closet?

I hope so, because fashion can be so much fun.

Yet I don’t want you just stuffing your closets full of clothing. Well designed closet space changes lives.

Interested in my best design tips for designing great closet spaces? Check them out here –

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1 minute of Video = 1.8 Million Words
Posted by:Denise Butchko,

So it really does seem like a picture paints even more than a thousand words.

And that stat, which comes from Forrester Research, gives me pause. It would take me much longer to write that much content than it takes me to create it with video.

That’s a lot of words. And regardless of how prolific you are with the pen, most of it won’t get read.

People are “watching” things these days. Looking at lots of pictures. Swiping their devices for something that will catch their attention.

And their attention spans are short, so you better be both good and fast and getting that attention and then getting them (eventually) in to action.

So how do you do that? How do you catch their attention?

Video is a wonderfully effective tool for achieving that goal.

In fact, according to ComScore, a company that measures online video marketing and use, says that people are exposed to an average of 32 videos a month.

And video does not have to be big production. It can be. But there are also tools like Animoto that can help you use pictures and words to create a video.


You can also use a screen recording tool like Screenflow or Go To Meeting and create videos right from your desktop.

Then there’s your phone. A tool you almost always have with you. Take some quick footage of your projects in a more casual, storytelling way and share on your social platforms.

And if you would like to learn more specifics and how to’s, you can access the video with this link:


video marketing

Importance of video in marketing

It’s a FREE ON DEMAND session that is packed with great tips and info to help you understand more about how and why to use video as a tool for marketing your business.

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Ashton Kutcher just gave his “home” in Iowa (where his parents live and where he was raised) a makeover using the “Houzz” app. In his words he used Houzz to “build something new”. And he did it all under the guise of a Mother’s Day gift.

And there’s brilliance to this beyond making your mom really, really happy with such an awesome gift.

It’s the rather pure, authentic marketing. Kutcher (who executive produces the segments and is a Houzz investor) tells the story of expanding the Iowa homestead while weaving in Houzz marketing messages almost as brilliantly as the team responsible for The Ellen DeGeneres show.

I’m telling you – you need to pay attention to this approach to reaching your customers. It’s how you’ll spend the majority of your marketing budget within five years.

And if you’re not following what I’m saying right now, then you need to watch TV (or any other platform through which you view “video”) through some new filters. And those filters are the way that products and services are woven into the content of the program you’re viewing. It’s better than the final episodes of Mad Men.

So as you read this, I’m hoping you’re not only familiar with Houzz, but active on the platform as a business development tool.

Many professionals in the design/build industries are. It’s one of the strongest, tech based platforms available to these industries.

And while your profile lives on the Houzz platform and most of your activity and any advertising also take place there, Houzz is active and creating content on other platforms. Namely, and most importantly, You Tube.

Why should you care about that? Because of the potential for a project you’re involved in to be featured on this platform. According to an award winning kitchen designer I’m connected to, the team at Houzz has had several conversations with her about filming an artsy project she completed for use with the Houzz platforms.

So keep an eye on Houzz. And keep an eye on Kutcher. Maybe you’ll get “punked” the next time you’ve completed a brilliant remodel (Google “punked” if you don’t get that).

Check out the Houzz and Kutcher collaboration

Check out the Houzz and Kutcher collaboration

The makeover is divided into four video segments and it’s fun to watch.
And if you would like to ask a marketing question, head on over to and ask away. We may just feature your question on a broadcast. You can also download a free “cheat sheet” with correct image sizes for your social media posts.

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