Showroom Designer vs. Independent Designer

Feb 15, 2011

When furnishing a home, there are a plethora of options that you can find at retailers and even more that exist offered “to the trade” (this means not offered to non-designers). While you can do it yourself, turn to a showroom designer or rely on an independent designer for help, I will explain the pros and cons of each so you can decide what is right for you.

Hire a independent professional designer. Be sure to look for certifications to ensure you are getting a professional designer.

The pros:

  • help from someone with years of training, experience, and education in design
  • some one who knows the best contacts and contractors
  • some one who has insider tips and industry tricks
  • some one who has day in and day out experience solving problems and come up with creative solutions to get your end results faster and with less cost and frustration
  • design unique to you
  • limitless options for design and guidance through those choices
  • knowledge of space planning
  • breadth of knowledge in multiple lines
  • no affiliation with specific product lines and therefore not biased
  • furnishings made to fit your space
  • “to the trade” lines which are only offered to designers so your neighbor won’t have the same things in their home
  • help with making all the detailed finish selections when building or remodeling (kitchen, baths, even the whole house)
  • access to quality crafts people for custom furnishings
  • get products at or below retail with design help.

The cons:

  • if a designer charges hourly plus product mark-up it can cost nominally more than high end retail (but often saves you in time and mistakes)
  • you can’t sit on custom designed furniture, so you have to rely on your designer understanding your needs and likes

Retail Designer. Designers found at retail shops.

The pros:

  • you get some help from people who work with their product day in and day out
  • expertise in a few product lines
  • you can see, sit on and touch a model of what you will buy

The cons:

  • these designers only make money if they sell you their product not what is necessarily best for you

Go it alone. Head out to retailers in your area and make your selection based on what you see in the store.

The pros:

  • you get things that are mass produced so you could wind up with furnishings your friends and neighbors have
  • you see, sit and touch exactly what you are going to order
  • economies of scale – retailers reduce their prices because they produce in mass and therefore the cost to you is usually low

The down sides:

  • your neighbors can get the exact same item at any time
  • limited by fabric selections offered
  • a lack of training in movement/flow of a well designed room, and the principles of scale and proportion of furnishings in a room