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.



Still Counting: Inspired Interiors Marks a Movement at SOFA CHICAGO

I am endlessly inspired by the power and passion of women working together. It’s why, as an entrepreneur and a mother of three, I founded Inspired Interiors as a place where work-life balance takes precedence and women feel supported to succeed. 

Over my career, I have helped coordinate and have contributed my work to several exhibitions focused on women’s empowerment, an endeavor I find most rewarding in my work. This week, I will have the incredible opportunity to showcase an assemblage of works by 21 influential female artists, all representing indelible moments in the fight for women’s equality, at SOFA CHICAGO, the premier gallery-presented art fair dedicated to three-dimensional art and design. The exhibition has an opening-night preview on Thursday, Oct. 31 and runs through Sunday, Nov. 3 at Navy Pier.

Honoring the 100-year anniversary of women’s right to vote, “Still Counting” brings together personal, powerful works provoked by the number of years it has taken to receive equal rights in a list of categories essential to living in true gender equity (think everything from Supreme Court appointments and Presidential nominations to the right to economic identity). Each art piece is showcased in a vignette designed by Inspired Interiors and is paired with a bold red number representing the length of the fight. 

As part of the exhibition, I have gathered a group of thought leaders to participate in a compelling panel discussion from noon-1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 3. I am honored to join these esteemed professionals to deliberate on our personal experiences and goals for our industries in this era of unprecedented change. The conversation will be moderated by Sally Lou Loveman, former audience producer for The Oprah Winfrey Show, and will feature Audarshia Townsend, a food and culture writer, editor and on-air personality; Shaylyn Cullen, founder and president of Cullen Construction Management; Anuja Gupta, a physician and real estate developer; and Michelle Rivas, a Latina healthcare writer and adjunct professor at DePaul University’s College of Communication.

Each of the thought-provoking pieces from the “Still Counting” exhibition will be auctioned off via an online art auction site, open through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 3, with 50 percent of proceeds benefiting a women’s rights organization. A live onsite painting during the event will blur the lines between artist and attendee, with silhouettes of guests continuously layered over another, illustrating how we’re all connected in this ongoing quest for equality. 

Dare to Live: Unique Interior Design Touches

Your home speaks volumes about you — it should be a true reflection of your life lived, presenting pieces that highlight your personal history and your passions. Are you a music lover, art aficionado or wine connoisseur? Showcase your collections with a scene-stealing display worthy of your treasures. Do you have a family heirloom that holds a special place in your heart? Make it a centerpiece for your surroundings, as well, so that you can appreciate it every day. By infusing your abode with items that are distinctly, 100 percent you, you’ll feel more at home than ever.

Think outside the box with spaces that may go underused in your home; they can become the ideal backdrop for flaunting unique touches. This front living room gets a new lease on life with an homage to the homeowners’ love of reading (note the intriguing sculpture made of manuscripts), plus the pièce de résistance: a log-burning fireplace that blazes brightly every day of the cold season. This sitting room now knows a greater purpose as the perfect place to curl up with a good book.

Vintage Pierre Cardin dining chairs reupholstered in plush peacock teal velvet? Check. Roomy heirloom dining table designed for collecting a crowd? Check. Whimsical bicycle sculpture that sparks conversation? Bien sûr! Make every meal more memorable and every occasion even more special by creating a purposeful dining room you and your family with want to return to time and time again.

A hand-sewn kimono hanging in a breakfast room? Why not, we say! Celebrate your heritage by purposely placing heartfelt objects throughout your home. By displaying this exceptional item as a cherished piece of art in a conspicuous place, this family gets a beautiful reminder of who they are every day they gather for their morning meal.

Imagine walking past a formal dining room table and your eye catches an intriguing vignette. A sculptural worship piece, flickering candles and a bright fresh floral impart an intentional design that enchants everyone who enters your home, even in a space you don’t utilize every day.

The Inspired Interiors team revels in helping you discover and display pieces throughout your home that will bring you joy throughout the years. Get in touch to learn how we can help transform your surroundings into a space that truly tells the tale of you.