Why Big Box Retailers Might Not Be the Right Fit for Your Home Design

We’ve all been browsing in a big box furniture retailer — think Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, West Elm, Walter E. Smithe and the like — and noticed that they offer in-store “design services.” While those offerings can serve certain limited purposes, they’ve also created some confusion around what exactly the title “designer” means. 


Here, we’d like to explore these misconceptions and explain why working with a trained and licensed interior designer builds a long-lasting relationship that goes well beyond the big box. 


Misconception #1: The title “designer” means the same thing across the board.


For the most part, the design services offered at chain stores are provided by salespeople without official interior design. This approach may suffice if you’re looking for accessories or small items to furnish isolated areas. However, if your plans include developing a theme for your entire home, multiple considerations come into play simultaneously, including planning out color schemes, thoughtfully mapping out functions of spaces, selecting interior architectural finishes, blending in texture and much more. This type of cohesion can only come from working with a qualified interior designer who has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and is professionally trained in these complex architectural assembly techniques.


Inspired Interiors Founder and Designer Emily Mackie likens utilizing a store designer with going to a Minute Clinic, while collaborating with a trained interior designer is similar to the doctor-patient relationship, which takes a person’s entire life and history into account when making decisions. 


Misconception #2: You can create an authentic, unique interior design from shopping at a big box retailer. 


Big box retail reps and licensed interior designers all shop at the same international trade shows. The major difference? The chain stores buy limited items in mass quantities, while interior designers have access to the full range of countless manufacturers and can shop from the entire spectrum when designing your home. This results in a home design that is highly curated and completely authentic to you and your lifestyle. People will ask “where did you get that” instead of “oh, I have that from Restoration Hardware, too.”


When you shop at a big box retailer, you only see what their buyers have selected for the store floor and their catalogue. Your options are narrowed, and your chances of having your home look like a replica are greatly increased.   


Misconception #3: You’ll get the same level of customer service from a store designer. 


When you order from a big box store, the customer-designer relationship usually ends as soon as the transaction is complete. It’s up to you to manage your order from home, from shipping times/days and delivery to your residence, to any imperfections, wrong sizes, missing parts and anything else that could go wrong. And, if for any reason you’re unhappy with your selections, you’ve wasted all of that blood, sweat and tears (and time!) of working with the retailer in the first place.


An interior designer takes care of all of that for you — from placing and overseeing orders to arranging the items properly throughout your space. A great way to avoid buyer’s remorse and get exactly what you envisioned for the project.


A Powerful Partnership


The Inspired Interiors team is passionate about partnering with select homeowners who desire a home design that captures life’s moments and reflects their one-of-a-kind uniqueness. We take pride in ensuring full-service and end-to-end services to bring our collaborative vision to life.