In July of 2013, an electrical fire ravaged Splash, the premier bath design center and flagship showroom for Kohler and Kallista, on Newton’s Needham Street. No one was hurt, thankfully, but the devastation fast-tracked a renovation and broadened its scope considerably. “We had planned to make our showroom a working showroom,” explains Director of Retail Operations Donna Zinckmoore, one that would allow customers to try the water products, run the faucets and baths, flush the toilets and test the showers. Suddenly, the time had come.
In a way, the fire was a cleansing of sorts that allowed Zinckmoore and the team at Splash to build anew, reimagine the space, install the working features they wanted, and double—or even triple—their inventory. As the first kitchen and bath showroom in New England, Splash’s renovation was “30 years in coming,” says Zinckmoore, and long overdue.
The store remained open throughout the rebuilding process, with tradespeople working sections at a time. The team met roadblocks at every turn. They opened the floor to find an oil tank that needed removal and niche piping from the building’s past life as a skating rink that required the team to rethink the area designated for water features. “It was a lot of work and a long process,” she says. Yet the setbacks have only served to make the transcendent new space that much more dazzling.
This wasn’t an expansion; Zinckmoore had the same 10,000-square-foot space of the showroom available to her for the remodel, and she worked magic. Ideal Tile of Newton, a neighbor in the open-air shopping plaza, supported Splash on its journey, forging a mutually rewarding partnership and displaying their wares alongside the resplendent kitchen and bath lines that were being installed every day.
The store now opens up to a common area with a Starbucks, allowing customers to browse coffee in-hand. A fireplace terrace with an outdoor kitchen for functions is also in the works.
Zinckmoore knew immediately that she’d correct the flow and visibility of the previous showroom in the redesign (“It was maze-like and easy to get lost,” she says.), allowing patrons a full view of the galleries, front to back. She also foretold the neutral interior trend (happily, she’d add), choosing a largely taupe color palette for the overarching aesthetic that would cast the spotlight on the fixtures themselves.
Intimate design vignettes were added to help customers envision the looks within their own homes, and Zinckmoore wanted a wide range of styles represented from the start. Just inside the entrance, customers are greeted by traditional, transitional and contemporary design setups of sinks, freestanding tubs and glittering vanities. Unlike the designers that frequent Splash, “homeowners don’t always know what style they like,” she says. “They might come in thinking they like a contemporary style, and find that they’re wowed by something else.”
There are spaces like the Gessi room, named for the boutique Italian brand; the Kohler and Kallista sections, with matte soaking tubs, gleaming pedestal sinks, mirrors and more; a dedicated kitchen area with working faucets in every style and finish; and rows and walls of sinks, fixtures and hardware.
A spa room where clients can experience digital showering, chromotherapy lighting and heated flooring—or, “the works!”—is at the heart of the showroom, allowing customers to test the system by appointment before making their purchase.
While spectacular, Splash is approachable, starring friendly customer service and a showroom with something for all. “We don’t want people to think that just because it looks beautiful, they can’t afford it,” emphasizes Zinckmoore. “I have things on the floor for everybody.” So far, the response to Splash’s expanded offerings and new showroom has been overwhelmingly positive, which, says, Zinckmoore, “makes all of the effort worthwhile.”
Photography by Michael Crane Photography