In a couple of blogs I read, there's been some talk about design, layout and display. Hue talked about how appealing Anthropologie is in their displays. They do clever things like putting the glass door knobs on a bed of beans so the glass wouldn't chip. (image by Hue)
When we opened the furniture warehouse at Second Chance, the two guys who ran that warehouse had everything jumbled up with no rhyme or reason. One day I went in and started organizing things. I made vignettes with dining room tables and chairs, china and glassware, silver and napkins. I took antique beds and made them up with old quilts and blankets, added dressers and lamps. I worked so people could imagine the items in a home-like setting. It worked very well and sales went up.
Looking at catalogues is a great way to educate yourself with an eye toward layout and display. See how things are arranged in a room. The bed may be on the diagonal or in the center of the room, or the sofa may be facing away from the main entrance to a room.
Think about the stores you like. Consider a generic Hallmark store, with rows of cards and gifts stacked on shelves, with an overlay of corporate mandated layouts. Then think of a little boutique with fun cards on spinning racks, gifts arrayed in thoughtful ways, personally selected items, all displayed with thought and intent by the store owner.
Where would you rather shop?