Mixing Retail and Custom Furnishings – The Highs and Lows of Interior Design

Custom, full-sized bunk beds with tailor made, linen privacy shades, accented by Serena and Lily felted wool bean bag chair.

Custom full size bunk beds and tailor-made linen privacy shades, accented by Serena and Lily felted wool bean bag chair.

Stretch Your Interior Design Budget by Mixing Custom & Retail Furnishings

Interior design services are admittedly a luxury service, but when you’re ready to create a home that truly represents your individuality and conveys your personality, is money well spent. That being said, if you choose to work with an interior designer, it’s important to have the resources – time and money – to invest in your home’s transformation.

Interior design is manageable on almost any budget, but you can really stretch your investment by utilizing a mixture of custom and retail furnishings. You don’t hire an interior designer to simply pick out retail furnishings – almost anyone can do that. What a skilled designer brings to the equation is a breadth of knowledge – we know what’s available at almost every price point – and the ability to best curate your home environment for a cohesive and tasteful result.

We all want our homes to provide an authentic environment that represents who we are, or who we are becoming. Today’s retail giants have done a great job at simplifying home décor – with very generic results. Too often a home ends up looking like a page out of a catalog, very impersonal, and most of the time, not a true representation of its inhabitants. Where’s your true personality? Are you satisfied looking like a page out of the catalog? And lastly, are you tuning in to your inner guidance?

Sometimes you need an expert to do the translation. We’re exposed to countless resources every day and have a broad understanding of what’s available, and how to best to reflect your vision. A strategic mix of high-end custom furnishings and lower price-point retail items is the optimal way to maximize your budget for a beautiful end result.

This artful blend of high and low furnishings allows you to make a personal statement with classic, well-made items that wear well over time. Whenever possible we source local, custom and sustainably manufactured items from the best regional artisans, artists and craftspeople to further lessen our impact on the environment.

Once the high-end and custom pieces are sourced, we begin the curation process. This is where an interior designer will prove their worth. Building upon the design concept, we “layer” in our retail accents and furnishings to complement the custom pieces and complete the overall vision.

For example, for a recent project in a California ranch-style home, we used a retail-sourced natural jute area rug and lower-priced wool carpet, but specified a custom sofa and pillows, and a pair of side chairs manufactured by master furniture makers in Los Angeles.

To further stretch the budget, we used a well-made, high quality retail-sourced side table that worked well in the room, adding a classic and vintage look. Additionally, local artist Katherine Jacobus was commissioned to create custom artwork for the entryway – a beautiful triptych conveying the home’s past as a pear orchard. Other artwork was sourced from retail outlets – again stretching the budget while remaining true to our clients’ desire to create a beautiful, tasteful, and inspired interior.

Beautifully crafted, a retail sideboard in the entryway sits beneath commissioned artwork by Katherine Jacobus.

Beautifully crafted, a retail sideboard in the entryway sits beneath commissioned artwork by Katherine Jacobus.

If you desire a custom home, but don’t have the big budget to accommodate your vision, an interior designer can help customize your retail furnishings through fabric and color selections, or a little thinking outside the box. For another project, we designed a custom table from repurposed timbers harvested from a defunct winery and stayed within budget by using retail-sourced legs.

The skill of mixing high and low is a matter of practice, an understanding of space, and the ability to sense and feel. What works well together, what items complete or complement a room – and most importantly, what represents you in your home. Our goal is to create a harmonious relationship between dweller and dwelling using a creative blend of both.

(A version of this article was originally published in the Piedmont Post.)

2 Comments

  1. […] mind that as your designer educates you on the options available, your desires may change. Often, a well-planned mix of “high-low,” meaning combining retail and custom furnishings, fixtures, materials, and finishes, can keep a […]

  2. […] mind that as your designer educates you on the options available, your desires may change. Often, a well-planned mix of “high-low,” meaning combining retail and custom furnishings, fixtures, materials, and finishes, can keep a […]

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