With Ginger, Impressing Children Could Be a Snap

Children’s rooms with themes such as Gilligan’s Island can help sell kids — and their parents.

By Rebecca Souffrant, Associate Editor | June 30, 2001


Children’s rooms with themes such as Gilligan’s Island can help sell kids — and their parents.

Just sit right back, and you’ll read a tale — not of a fateful trip, but of how Gilligan’s Island could help you sell a home.

First, some background (it took the seven stranded castaways 14 years to get off that island, so maybe you can wait just a few paragraphs): An increasingly popular trend in model homes is designing children’s rooms with themes that builders hope will influence kids and, by extension, their parents.

“When people are shopping for a new home, it can be traumatic for kids,” says Georganne Derick, president of Merchandising East, a Laurel, Md., company that furnishes model homes for builders. “When the kids get excited about a room, it gets them involved in the move and thinking, ‘Yes, I want to do this.’”

That can be the difference between your model and another builder’s. “Kids are the tiebreakers in a parent’s decision to buy,” says Mary Dewalt, director of marketing for Dewalt Design Group, an Austin, Texas, firm that designs models’ interiors. “A kids’ room,” she adds, “is one place in a house where there are no holds barred.”

Margi Clute, vice president of sales and marketing for builder Engle Homes Colorado, says a wild and crazy theme that would be unthinkable for other rooms could be just what a kids’ room needs to sway prospects. “The more memorable the kids’ rooms are, the more it helps consumers make a decision,” she says. “After looking at eight or 10 models in a day, a more memorable room may help that particular housing community stick in a buyer’s mind.”

So how do you make kids’ rooms memorable? Forget the traditional cowboy or ballerina look, experts say. That’s old hat. Think techno, with computers and televisions and music videos.

“If a builder has money to spend on technology, he will,” Derick says. “Hip-hop music and extreme sports are very popular in the kids’ market right now, and to have that playing in the kids’ rooms is very appealing to the kid.”

Above all, experts say, be imaginative. “Kids’ rooms are where we can put a smile on people’s faces,” Derick says. “They need to be memorable and zany.”

Which brings us back to the Skipper, his little buddy and the rest. Derick recently outfitted a kids’ room in a Gilligan’s Island theme “because it attracts baby boomers who watched it, it attracts kids who watch Nick at Nite, and the house was near the water.”

And no, that water wasn’t a lagoon adjoining an uncharted desert isle.


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