Did you know that the free interior design services at furniture stores are not actually free? You end up paying for the service when you buy the furniture. They build that fee into the price of the furniture and sometimes you pay more than you might have without the service. The same is true for “free shipping” online. The cost is built-in to the price of whatever it is that you order.

Something that I’ve seen more and more in furniture stores is the promise of free interior design services. This is where you go in and they have a “designer” to help you choose furniture. I have that in quotes because sometimes they do have actual interior designers working for them and you get lucky, but most often they’re sales people who have not been trained in the art of interior design.


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Stores offer what they call a “curated base of furniture pieces”. What that means is that they picked out a living room set (or other room) of furniture and they have it ready to go for a low price per room. Sometimes you can mix and match sometimes you can’t.

I’ve been to a few stores that offer this out of curiosity and I’ve asked, “If I want this sofa, but don’t want these chairs can we change them?” The sales person usually looks at me like a deer caught in headlights and says, “Oh! I don’t know. I have ask”. It’s a package deal and everything’s from the same store. So your house ends up looking like a furniture showroom, or even worse it looks like the catalog.


Free Interior Design is Impersonal


The stores also say that free interior design is a personalized service. That means they have a sales person following you around and either making suggestions or waiting for you to decide what you want. If you want quick and easy and you don’t want to think about it, they’ve got it done for you.

But think about this… interior designers do the same thing but it’s truly personalized to you. I don’t design the same room twice for different clients. Buying package deals means your neighbors can get the exact same thing that you have. If you’re going to get everything from one store you get their look. They decided what that look is and it’s a generic one that appeals to a wide assortment of customers.

Here’s the difference when you hire an interior designer or decorator to help you furnish your home. You actually do get personalized service. We come to your house. We sit down with you. We spend time with you and get to know you. We ask you a lot of questions. My questionnaire for my service is nine pages long. And the reason for that is so that I can get an overview of what you like, and what you don’t like before I come to your house so that we’re not spending the whole time talking about that. I already have an idea.


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Me shopping for a client!


At the store they’re waiting for somebody to walk in off the street and they don’t know you. They don’t know anything about you. They don’t know what your house looks like or what your style is. They want to sell furniture. I sell furniture too, but that’s not my main focus. My focus is… you. I start with what your house looks like, what the architectural style of your house is. Then I consider your personal style and how we can fit those two together so that it looks good and fits your personality and how you want to live in your house.

Once we establish that, then we can decide what you need in the room. I measure the whole room, the windows, doors, everything. Down to the last detail because that way I can figure out without moving things around what will fit in your space. I take in all the aspects of your home. Who lives in the house, whether you have pets, kids, or you live alone.


Free Interior Design Can Cost More


So why is the package deal furniture so inexpensive? I have seen prices of $1999 for an entire living room. You get your sofa, end tables, lamps, a coffee table and two chairs. And you’re done! But that furniture was made in China. In China they are all about quick and cheap. They ship it over and a lot of it is damaged when it gets here. So you have to order it two and three times to get a piece that has not been broken during shipping. It’s one of the reasons I don’t offer very much furniture that’s made in China.

The pieces that I choose… I want them to last. Today’s $2000 room is tomorrow’s $200 garage sale find. If you’re going to invest in furniture, take that $2000 and get a sofa. That’s the main piece for your living room. Invest in that sofa because that $2000 set may last only two or three years. And then you’re going to go out and spend another $2000 to replace it because it all fell apart. So in three or four years you’ve spent $4000 instead of two. More if you buy on credit.


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I love this vignette from Currey & Company!


In the near future, I am adding a new service to my website. I myself will be selling “curated rooms”. Mine will be different in that the pieces don’t all come from the same manufacturer or store. They will be separate pieces that you can order individually, or as an entire room.

Why is this different from the furniture store? It’s similar to affiliate sales like you see on many blogs. That’s where you click on something they have promoted and it takes you to another site to purchase and the blogger gets a small percent of that purchase. I will have more information about it once I have everything set up. I mean, if the stores can do it with the cheap stuff, why shouldn’t I offer better quality American made furniture?  If you would like to work with me to curate a personalized look for your home, click on the link to learn more or book a Design Work Session.

Get a head start on decorating for Fall. If you would like help coming up with a theme or want someone to do it for you, my Holiday Decorating Service is perfect for you! Click on the link to book an appointment now. If your home needs a Fall Refresh before company starts arriving for the holidays, book a Design Work Session today. The cut off for ordering furniture that will arrive before Christmas is October 13th! It’s the same every year and after that date you won’t see your new things until after December.

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