Staging a model home is a great way to give prospective buyers an idea of what a furnished unit can look like, but this becomes a tad more difficult when you’re building your properties to-order.
“Looking at a twelve-foot-by-twelve-foot room on a plan, someone says, ‘What could I fit in this space?’” says Toll Brothers Division Vice President James Fitzpatrick. The solution, he says, was simply to show them.
“Simple” might be a bit of an understatement. We got to try out the solution that Toll Brothers implemented for its new Edge-on-Hudson luxury development in Sleepy Hollow, and it would not be hyperbolic to say the experience was surreal, immersive, and not just a little bit trippy — and none of those are words we ever thought we’d apply to a new home walk-through.
You quickly adapt to wearing the headset, but furnishings and lighting are rendered so accurately that you may have trouble not reaching out as you interact with them.
Powered by an HTC Vive Virtual Reality Headset and running SteamVR, the team has developed fully rendered environments for two of the company’s four brownstone models — the Carroll and the Park — inside and out, complete with scenic Hudson views. Working in collaboration with the same architects and interior designers who design the actual homes, the VR team created walkable virtual demo models that are real-world accurate down to the appliances, light fixtures, paint colors, art, and even the coat hooks.
“If we have a client who says, ‘I really like that bathroom,’ we can tell them right down to the tile what’s in it,” Fitzpatrick says. “Customers love it.”
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The result is utterly surreal. Wearing a VR headset, guests can get a 360º view of every room, stairwell, terrace, and powder room in the virtual models. Each is immaculately appointed, and while the sky is as pixelated and unmoving as you’d imagine, the interiors look real. More than once we clicked to zoom into a living room and nearly fell over when we arrived practically on top of a (gorgeous, plush) easy chair or ottoman. At one point, we leaned over the edge of a fourth floor terrace (utterly beautiful and sporting a massive stainless steal grill) and actually experienced a slight sense of vertigo as we looked over the edge.
The two virtual demos offer a glimpse at the various configurations the brownstones can include, from larger bedroom suites on the third floor, to alternate kitchen locations on the second and arrangements of the partially-covered outdoor space on the fourth floor. Check out some of the options:
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“You really get a sense for what Toll Brothers does and how Toll is different from other building companies,” says Marketing Account Director Andrea Meck. She casually adds that they’ve already signed agreements with three buyers and, yes, all three took the virtual tour first. Those interested can check out galleries and a clickable walk-though online, but there’s obviously no substitute for a fully immersive experience.