You know when you just want some crisp, hot French fries and a cold, creamy chocolate shake? Where do you go? I'm guessing you're not going to hunt down a personal chef to fix it for you. On the other hand, when you want a special meal cooked for just for you and made exactly the way you like it (and maaaaaybe even good for you), you’re probably not going to head out to a fast food joint. The same idea applies when it comes to decorating your home.
Just about every furniture store these days offers free design services. And, if you’ve liked enough design magazines and home improvement stores on Facebook, you’ve probably seen ads for e-design sites like Havenly and Laurel & Wolf advertising super low rates for room designs. (E-design isn’t right for everyone. If you’re not sure what it is, check out this post about it.) There’s nothing wrong with having inexpensive design services and some of their designers are amazing. However…there are a few things to keep in mind.
The designers often don’t have much experience and don’t know about the more intricate aspects of design. Some don’t have any experience at all. There’s always a chance you’ll get lucky and stumble on to someone who really knows her stuff, but know that the odds aren’t exactly in your favor. It depends on the company and how much the owners/managers care about being known for really good design. Yeah, some fast food burgers are pretty good, but most are just so-so.
The designers don’t have time to really get to know you (or for you to get to know them) and if your personalities or styles clash, you don’t have many options. At those prices, the designers need to do as many designs as possible as quickly as possible. Got to get those burgers and fries out to all of those hungry customers as fast as possible and there’s no time to make each one completely unique.
Furniture store designers are paid by the store. That means her options are limited by what the store offers. And if the store doesn’t have exactly the right color fabric or right size sofa, you probably won’t be happy with the end result. Plus, she can’t help you with wood floors, carpet, tile, bathroom design, etc. unless those things are offered by the store. (Fast food restaurants can’t help you figure out how to have a well-balanced meal when you’re allergic to practically everything. Personal chefs usually can.)
It also often means that the designer is on commission. The more you buy, the bigger her paycheck. Does this mean that’s all every store designer thinks about? No, of course not. But it is something to be aware of.
Independent designers like me? Think of us as the personal chefs of the design world, cooking up a one-of-a-kind home that looks both great and functions the way YOU need it to.
Now, I’m going to take a break and go talk to a certain girl with red braids about some fries and a milkshake. Because every once in a while a little fast food is perfect!