Expect custom store interiors projects to continue to unfold from two retailing giants: J.C. Penney and McDonald's.

J.C. Penney's new CEO Ron Johnson, fresh from leading-edge Apple retail stores, has decided to re-emphasize the retail interior experience, with remodeling scheduled for more than 1,100 Penney's stores.

Penney's plans to remake its stores into a collection of specialty shops, each store containing up to 100 boutiques, with the center of the store made into a welcoming Main Street "town square."  The entire store will be "merchandised in a series of 80 to 100 brand shops, rather than the confusing and seemingly endless racks common in department stores today," Penney's said in the announcement last week. That could mean a changing role for slat wall.

McDonald's. abut half way through a multi-billion dollar restaurant interior and exterior makeover, has already seen the financial benefits of upgrading its franchisees' restaurants. McDonald's splits the cost, averaging $500,000 per location, for a complete exterior and interior makeover. The interior design is  to make McDonald's look more like a Starbucks - with an emphasis on wood grain looks and even real wood paneling.

Analysts give the remade commercial interiors at McDonald's restaurants at least some of the credit for an 11 percent rise in fourth quarter earnings announced last week. This year McDonald's will remodel 2,400 more restaurants and open another 1,300, spending $2.9 billion on construction and remodeling. In the U.S., about one-third its 14,098 locations have had their interiors remodeled. Restaurants replace steel chairs with wood chairs, and fiberglass tables with laminated wood panel topped tables. The goal is to make the restaurants more inviting for longer stays and give them a greener feel.

Wendy's also joins the remodeling spree, testing four new restaurant prototypes that, like McDonald's, are intended to be more inviting and keep diners indoors longer. Wendy's will remodel 50 restaurants this year.

In 2010 Wendy's opened its first LEED certified restaurant in Bridgeton, MO. Interior elements were sourced locally as much as possible. And Wendy's already features moveable ash wood chairs in its restaurants. The new design features movable upholstered furniture, booths with wood trim surround, and more wood paneling.

In these three cases, the work will  be plentiful and steady for several years.

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