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The furnishing world is one wild place. If you have ever worked with an interior designer or purchased furniture for yourself, you’ve likely landed in a comfort zone. Hopefully, it is a comfort zone you are thrilled with, but if you are yearning for some fresh finds, this post is for you.
Interior designers’ go-to retailers are vetted to the Nth degree. We have rapid-fire furniture needs, often for multiple projects at once. This means we have more opportunities than the typical homeowner to determine what furnishing vendors are worth working with consistently.
Interior designers’ go-to vendors aren’t always retailers who are open to the public. Closed-trade vendors are incredible for a multitude of reasons, but that’s a topic for another day. Right now, I am focused on how to get your eyes on some fresh finds that will be well worth stretching outside of your comfort zone for.
It has taken me years to fully grasp the ins and outs of the home furnishing scene and I’m positive that I still have a lot more to learn. I’ve luckily had some incredible vendors take the time to guide me through everything they know and love about the biz. So, here we go…
There are go-to retailers that every design enthusiast will check out when on the hunt (West Elm, Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, Serena & Lily, etc.). We know them well, and they usually have great solutions for your furnishing needs. If you know what you love and the fit is right for a piece or two, go with the retail mainstays.
While it’s okay to stick to the everyday go-to’s for a few pieces you really love, the goal is to spread your wings and let your design eye live a little! The key to spreading your wings and creating a collected aesthetic and established home is to switch up your sources… and your hunt.
There is not a designer in the world who is sourcing an entire room from one retailer or manufacturer. Expanding your hunt will organically give you a collected, established, personality-filled aesthetic in your home.
Making any home feel complete takes money. It’s no secret that layers of furnishings add cost to your budget, and it’s the layers that bring any thoughtfully designed space together. Seeking out new vendors (some that may actually be intimidating to you) does not necessarily mean you will spend more money than you would have in one place. You just have to be strategic as you start the process, and dive right into sources that may stretch outside of your comfort zone. Get to know great vendors. Let them help you find your home’s story.
You know a retailer is a good fit when you step inside their storefront and feel welcomed immediately. You know you are coming back when you feel right at home as you walk in the door. There are plenty of vendors that I have purchased furnishings from in the past and know I will be back. There are also plenty of retailers that I know to avoid.
When you’re ramping up your surroundings, you have so much to think about. The last thing you need is to feel intimidated by a retailer! I know the vibe of the “over-seller” or the “not enough time in a day” retailer. Check those merchants off your list and continue on your hunt for the right fit. There are so many incredible vendors that are passionate about helping you find the perfect fit. Use them! Build relationships with them. Trust their expertise when you know the vibe is right.
My Favorites In The Biz
If you are still here for the real goods, I’m thrilled to share my absolute favorites in the retail biz. They are examples of what to look for in a great furnishing source. I’ll start by saying these sources happen to have locations in Chicagoland [local to me]. If they don’t have a location near you, they can source to you nationally [some globally!] OR represent a similar brick-and-mortar shop near you.
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INTERIOR DESIGNER, EDUCATOR, MOM OF 2, CURATOR, HOMEBODY, ANTHEM LOVER, OPEN-MINDED LEARNER, AND RESOURCE FOR YOU...
I love the hunt for diamonds in the rough, the art of styling unexpected combinations that speak to you, and the process of helping you curate a home that basically gives you a massive hug as you walk in the door.