Updated: Sep 18, 2019
There are fantastic retail furniture stores that offer free interior design services. You may shop Ethan Allen, Pottery Barn, Ballard Designs and Restoration Hardware to name a few. Maybe you’ve found yourself falling in love with a room in one of their catalogs or their online site and they are having a great sale. But, you’ve also considered hiring a full-service interior designer.
How do you decide whether to go with one of the retail store designers or hire an independent interior designer?
The four home furnishing retailers I mentioned above all have design studio spaces in their stores, and more importantly, they employ talented and trained design professionals. These retailers are designing beautiful spaces that their customers love, but you’re wondering if they are right for you.
Retail store design services may include paint consultation and custom upholstery selections.
One consideration is who the designer works for. The retail designer works directly for the specific retailer and has been hired to use that retailer’s products solely in their designs. A full-service interior designer works directly for you. They have access to an unlimited number of sources to offer you in a variety of styles and price points.
Another consideration is the look and feel you desire for your space. Most of the retail stores have a specific aesthetic that marks their furnishings and will be reflected in your home.
Would you consider it a compliment or a disappointment if a friend said, “Wow! Your home looks like it came from a page of the XYZ catalog.”?
Are you seeking a designer who is the right fit for your personality and can assist you over a period of years as your family changes and your lifestyle evolves? More likely than not, the full-service interior designer will still be in their same location while the retail designer may have moved on to another job.
There is a time and a place for everything. When my husband and I were first married, we purchased the majority of our home furnishings at one store. It was convenient and budget-friendly, and we still have several of those pieces in our home. Now that I am an independent interior designer who admires pieces from all the retailers listed above, as well as many interior design trade-only sources, it would be difficult to choose just one source from which to select furnishings for a client’s full-service interior design project.
Full-service interior design may not be right for every project and you may find yourself mainly needing advice.
There is a happy medium option which many interior designers like myself offer. If you love the furnishings from a specific retailer and you are interested in mixing in your own furnishings, art and accessories within the interior design, there is a service called Interior Design Consultation which allows you to work with both a retail interior designer and have an independent interior designer pull all the pieces together to make the space distinctly yours.
Pottery Barn office furniture paired with Dash and Albert leopard rug, new accessories and custom Chinoiserie drapery
The Interior Design Consultation option gives you the best of both worlds.