“Where did you get that?”
This is a question we hear all the time — and I bet we’re not the only designers who do. From social media comments to DMs, our followers (who clearly have great taste) are quick to ask us where we found that stunning end table or how they can get the same fabric we used for a Roman shade. But here’s the thing…
In many cases, our furnishings come from exclusive, to-the-trade vendors that aren’t readily available to be purchased by the public (that’s one of the benefits of working with a designer.) In other cases, the furnishings in our projects have no source at all — we custom designed them!
Today we’ll cover why our clients love custom furnishings, how we customize them, and the investment and timeline to a completed custom piece.
What are “Custom” Furnishings?
When it comes to furnishings, there are two levels of customization: “specifying” and designing from scratch.
With specifying, we can make adjustments to a vendor’s piece, such as the dimensions (height, width, length), the color, the finish, the fabric, and more. Instead of being limited to a defined catalog of options, there are hundreds of permutations available.
Designing from scratch, however, is different. In this case, we aren’t working with an existing piece and customizing it. Instead, we’re creating the schematic drawings ourselves, selecting the materials, and specifying every detail from start to finish. Then, we’ll hand the design over to a specialized craftsman to create a one-of-a-kind piece for your home and lifestyle.
So, why do our clients love custom furnishings?
- They can be designed to reflect your personality and create a perfectly cohesive design.
- Functionally, we can achieve more, customizing pieces to the way you use your home.
- These pieces can not be replicated or ordered by anyone else.
- As a one-of-a-kind piece, they often have greater value and longevity.
- They take your home’s design to the next level.
Which Furnishings Can Be Customized & How?
Sofas, sectionals, and chairs are our favorite pieces to customize, mainly because they are often the largest items in the room and the pieces are most likely to be used daily. Perfectly coordinated colors produce head-turning results, while size and depth customization create ideal comfort. Here’s all that we can customize:
- Sofa and sectional length
- Seat depth
- Back height
- Arm style & height
- Feet style and finish
- Fabric and welting (also called “piping”)
- …or we start from scratch!
Left: These stunning armchairs have two custom fabrics, sleek modern legs, a deep seat, and ties together the blue-and-green palette in the room. Right: For these swivel chairs, we specified a soft blush color for the main fabric, then punched it up with royal blue welting.
2. Case Goods
Case goods refer to your consoles, credenzas, dressers, sideboards, etc. Customizing these pieces may feel less intuitive than upholstery, but it can be done to incredible effect. The result is a uniquely personal element in a space, one designed for beauty, functionality, and destined to become an heirloom for future generations to enjoy. Customizations can include:
- Shape and structure of the piece
- Wood species or stain used
- Paint colors applied
- Hardware type and finish
“Case” in point, this beautiful entry table was designed from scratch for our Ocean Meadow Project. After struggling to find a perfectly curved piece for their round entryway, we decided to design it ourselves. We sketched it on paper, specified a maple inlay for a stunning teak and holly look, and handed it over to our craftsman for completion. Once ready, the table followed the exact curve of the wall.
You may be surprised to learn that rugs are customizable. As an item that takes up a lot of visual space, having the option to create the perfect rug works wonders when tying a room together. We can customize a rug’s…
- Dimensions, especially specialty shapes
- Thread colors
- Border details, such as adding a leather border on runners
4. Window Treatments
Window treatments offer up a world of customization options, so much so that we already dedicated this entire post to the ways we can dress your windows with custom options. Look there, or enjoy this quick, summarized version of what we can customize:
- The type of window treatment (Roman shade, drapery, etc.)
- Fabric type, pattern, and color
- Design details (trim, bands, tassels, etc.)
- Length, width, and the “stack back” fullness
- Cornices and valances
- Slide type (hidden or exposed rings, motorized, etc.)
Are Custom Furnishings a Bigger Investment?
When most people hear custom, they automatically think expensive. When we talk about “from scratch” pieces, this can be true, and it shows in the quality and level of detail. (That’s also why they become heirlooms.) But in many other cases, custom furnishings are actually not a larger investment than other products of comparable quality.
When we work with our vendors to specify customization options for you, we almost always start with a base model or frame that is standard for their line, and then customize from there. Not only does this help us keep the investment lower than a from-scratch piece, but it offers that bespoke look that makes a BIG impact in your home…so don’t be afraid to go custom!
Do Custom Furnishings Take Longer to Procure?
This one is usually a yes. Simple customizations, such as fabric or contrast welting, usually don’t take longer or add to the lead time, but it can vary. More extensive customizations, like changing seat depth, back height, etc., does typically take longer than regular orders.
As of early 2022, custom pieces are adding an additional 4-6 weeks of lead time (this used to be 2-4 weeks pre-Covid). We’ll be conscious of this from the start, communicating these differences to you when presenting your design concept, so you can make the right choice for you. (Our opinion? The wait is always worth the reward!)
Custom furnishings MAKE the design, and you’re not likely to find them anywhere else! I’m willing to bet you’ll see our portfolio with a different eye now, turning “Where did you get that?” into “That piece was probably custom designed.”
If you’re planning to build, renovate or refresh your home, we would love to be involved from the very beginning, helping you make each and every corner customized to you. Reach out to us here, and let’s get to know each other.