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    Most in-store designers will have an understanding of color theory, design styles, arranging furniture, accessorizing a room, and possibly even window treatments.

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Most in-store designers will have an understanding of color theory, design styles, arranging furniture, accessorizing a room, and possibly even window treatments.


The “Accessory House Call”

An innovative service offered by selected design-oriented furniture retailers is the “accessory house call,” in which a designer does an in-home consultation then returns with a truckload of accessories from the store. Once at your home, the designer accessorizes your room(s), then allows you to “shop” from your own home and decide which pieces to keep and which to send back. Some stores will even allow you to keep pieces overnight to consider. The cost associated with this type of service varies by retailer and ranges from just the cost of the furnishings to individual hourly consulting and delivery fees.

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  • In-store Design Services

    Don’t miss the chance to get professional design advice during your next furniture shopping trip.

    by Trisha Kemerly

    Interior design isn’t something that comes naturally to many of us. Maybe you’re one of those people who knows what you like when you see it, but how to get there is still sort of a mystery.

    There’s no shame in asking for help. In fact, many of today’s home furnishings stores offer design assistance to their customers, often free of charge. Services range from salespeople trained in basic design techniques to licensed interior designers who work full-time for the store.

    It’s definitely a service worth checking out, especially since getting a little help from someone “in the know” will give you confidence in your purchases and help you create a home that you are really proud to show off.


    What can store design services do for me?

     “Working with a designer can be a great help, whether you’re trying to coordinate new furniture with your existing pieces or starting from scratch,” explains Dave Masin, vice president of Masins Interiors, a high-end furniture store in Seattle, Wash. “Having a designer’s assistance not only can help you choose the right piece of furniture for your space, but he or she can help you with space planning, traffic flow, color schemes, and coordinating fabrics.”

    Designers can help you find unique solutions to any unusual room layouts or space challenges you may be facing. They also have access to hundreds of catalogs of furnishings that are not on the showroom floor, giving you options that you may not know exist.

    In other words, designers can help you take your room (and your home) from looking like a mish-mash of items to having a cohesive look that is uniquely yours.


    Are all in-store design programs the same?

    Interior design services are as unique as the stores that offer them. Many stores have salespeople with some basic design training, and offer you these services at no charge. They will typically have an understanding of color theory, design styles, arranging furniture, accessorizing a room, and possibly even window treatments.

    Other stores, such as Masins or Ethan Allen, have professional licensed interior designers who are proficient in all areas, including whole-house design. After a private consultation, an interior designer may prepare a series of design boards based on your individual taste and requirements. These visually illustrate materials such as paint colors, fabrics, wallpapers, furnishings, pillows, rugs, carpets, lighting and accessories—and are part of a completely customized service.

    “Our entire sales staff are accredited designers, and total room design is a high priority with us,” says Masin. “They will go to customers’ homes to take measurements and get a true feel for the space before suggesting solutions; and we work with other businesses to put together a complete package. It helps our customers feel like they won’t make a mistake when they buy their furniture or anything else.”

    American Furniture Warehouse, a furniture chain with several stores throughout Colorado, asks for room measurements and will complete a floor plan for customers on their first visit. For larger projects with multiple rooms, the design consultant may schedule a visit to the home to measure and evaluate the client’s color scheme and the character of the home to create a custom design plan.


    How much does it cost?

    Most in-store design services (including Masins) are complementary, which can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars when you consider the cost of hiring your own interior designer. For advice on other materials in the room, such as the selection of coordinating carpet, tile, paint, and so on--you can expect to pay an hourly rate for consultation (typically around $100).

    Some stores have a complementary design consultation, then offer more involved design services with a “suggested minimum purchase” amount. While this doesn’t mean the store will force you to buy something from them, it does reasonably follow that if you are using the store designers’ services, time, and expertise, you will return the courtesy by making your purchases from them.