Off-the-Shelf or Off-the-Design Board? Making the Right Interior Choices
Rules of thumb for when to go with stock items, custom designs – or a happy marriage of both.
Never before have there been so many opportunities to meet a client's interior design needs. With the globalization of manufacturing, a bevy of inventory can be available at our fingertips. As clients have become more immediate gratification-oriented, especially with so many online opportunities, how do we help them make the right choices as they seek our services in feathering their nests? When is it appropriate to go custom versus off-the-shelf, or is there a happy marriage of both?
For this interior designer, my answer will always be in deference to quality; however, there are a few more deciding factors, as well.
As a case in point...I've shared a photograph of a master bedroom I created for some special clients. As you can see, the room is not "typical" in terms of scale or architecture. The only wall, on which the king-sized bed could be placed, also had two flanking windows and a pair of bed chests needed to be placed on each side for lighting. The windows were also rather high off the floor. A pair of arched top doors led to a balcony and they needed to be covered for light control and privacy. While I was able to address the windows near the bed with shades instead of panels, I needed to create fullness and height around the bed to provide balance for the doors' treatment. A custom corona with panels and a valance did the trick. None of this would have been available, in the particular materials or dimensions required, as off-the-shelf items. Had I made that attempt, it would have diminished the exceptional results we were focused on achieving.
Part of this same master bedroom does contain product that I was able to immediately secure. The rug was sourced at a High Point Market showroom. They had the perfect size and color in stock so I had it shipped to my clients' home. The lamps were available at a local lamp gallery so they were a cash-and-carry item. While we loved the lamps' bases, we decided the shades needed to be tweaked so the edges were specially trimmed for a more elegant look. That’s one of my favorite design tricks: take a quality, ready-made item and add a few custom touches to make it special. Many of my clients seem to love the idea of having something a bit different from everyone else. It’s usually the reason they hire me as they expect a unique touch.
Certain types of rooms can dictate pulling back on custom work. For example, lesser- used secondary bedrooms might be just fine with a creative layering of readymade products. Because these rooms don't get as much use, there may not be the same concern about extra wear and tear and they will stay fresher, longer. Kids rooms are also an area where the desire to do custom might be relaxed. They seem to change more frequently, because of age-related preferences. Catalog companies often offer some kid-friendly, functional solutions, which if duplicated in custom design, would be a bit more costly.
In making final selections between custom and off-the-shelf design, it's all about good design. The important elements for me are: quality, compatibility of scale and function, creative application, and the impact on the overall design. If any of the elements are out of balance, there goes the room!
What are your thoughts? How do you determine what you specify?
Top photo: Pottery Barn Linen Board.
Wanda S. Horton is a residential interior designer based in the Charlotte, NC metro area and brings a distinct perspective on all things regarding design. She shares her design musings with consumers and interior designers, alike, via her blog, Interior Concepts by Wanda. She also writes monthly posts for Hooker Furniture's, "Experience Your Home". She's an active participant during the nationally acclaimed High Point Furniture Market, including articles in the Designer Lookbook ,and was in the first group of Style Spotters focusing on market trends. She has been included as a guest panelist during several industry social media events. HGTV honored Wanda as one of Five Designers to Follow on Twitter. Her focus on multigenerational interior design has evolved from addressing the various ranges of her clients' lifestyles needs. Wanda has been recently volunteering her time and services in the transformation of her local community shelter, in order to create bright, new beginnings.