We recently had the pleasure of catching up with LaDiff president and co-owner Andy Thornton about the first of several major changes coming this year to LaDiff: the renovation and build-out of the Outdoor Furniture Gallery.
Q: During the Made In RVA Handcrafted Furniture Show this past month, we noticed that there were some major changes going on at the LaDiff outdoor space. Can you tell us a bit about what’s going on with this construction?
Andy: Absolutely. At the Made in RVA show, you caught a glimpse of some of the work that’s been going on, but this Spring, we‘re doing a full renovation to 5000 ft of our indoor garage. We’ve always been in the outdoor business but it’s been in the garage, literally. There were elements of the garage and warehouse that were bleeding into the store space. Due to the visual noise, customers were unsure if this area was for clearance, warehouse space, parking, etc. We’ve been meaning to do these renovations for quite a while and we’ve finally pulled the trigger on it. We’ve been at this for two months now.
We’ve enlisted the help from some of the best fabrication groups in Richmond, most notably Ashland Berry Farms. This nursery & landscape business brought their water feature expertise to LaDiff. They hauled in around 25 tons of rock from Pennsylvania for construction purposes. With their help, we have installed three pretty darn significant water features and fountains. Forklifts, machinery…quite an extensive process! These features really ground the whole project.
To cut down on the visual noise, we’ve fenced in this 5000ft area, installed decks, and even a small beach! Right now we’re working with Keith-Fabry Reproduction & Supply who will be creating high-resolution graphics to provide an ambiance in the space. Our outdoor display will become much more disciplined than it has ever been as far as understanding the product and differentiating between manufacturers. It’s going to feel like a cohesive part of the LaDiff experience.
Our building was constructed at the turn of the 20th century and it’s absolutely phenomenal. Vaulted ceilings, beams, we’re incredibly lucky to have this space and now we’re putting it to good use. We’ve also installed a gateway from the warehouse space into our new outdoor space with the help of local fabricators Hunter Webb & Surface Architectural Supply. I know that even when we say we’re finished, there are some details that will be ongoing but we expect for the bulk of the project to be completed in the first weeks of April.
Q: How do you see these changes affecting the LaDiff customer?
Andy: We’ve been in the outdoor furniture business for quite a while, but I’m hoping that this will put us on the map as the premier dealer for mid to high-end contemporary outdoor furniture. Over the past few years, a lot of people would walk out to this space and say, “Oh, I didn’t know you offered outdoor furniture.” I think this is going to be just as important as our upholstery or bedroom markets as well. Within the furniture industry, “outdoors” has become the new frontier. 10 years ago the outdoor market had a very short season and was generally defined by a dining set or a few outdoor chairs. Nowadays, it’s become an 8-9 month business and the technology has progressed to such a level that you can literally make fully weatherproofed outdoor furniture that is identical to indoor furniture in design and comfort. Our display will be quite unique in the industry and folks can come see why outdoor spaces are becoming the new living room.
To see LaDiff’s outdoor renovation in action, check out our video during the process and an image gallery below.
Next renovations planned: LaDiff Kid will ‘grow up’ to become LaDEAL$ (where you can find LaDiff’s ooh la la, for ooh la less), and a dedicated gallery to motion furniture. Stay tuned!