Why Designers Love to Shop Locally!

Why Interior Designers Love Shopping Locally

You may know that one of the benefits of using an interior designer for your home projects is that they have access to so many more vendors and products than what’s available to you at retailers.

But you may not realize that we actually also love shopping locally for your projects, particularly when the best option is to have an item specially made for your home.

Whether it’s a custom bench cushion for a banquette, a powder room vanity in a non-standard size, or even stair railings that repeat a motif from the front door’s design, there are so many benefits of using local fabricators to craft certain items for my clients. 

Custom Staircase by local craftsmen.

Unlimited Options 

Although I maintain buying relationships with a variety of product manufacturers so I won’t be stuck with limited choices for my clients’ projects, there are still times when nothing available will work. In those cases, our best option is to create something completely custom.

By turning to a local fabricator, I can work closely with them to create something that’s 100% what the client and their space’s design are calling for. Not only can we specify measurements, materials, and finishes to precisely suit the space; we can even include details like a velvet-lined drawer in a bedside table for stashing jewelry overnight or sconces with three lights instead of two to better light up a powder room with a dark wallcovering. 

By going custom, I have limitless options on how to personalize the item’s look and functionality for the client.

Custom Ottoman Tray by local craftsmen

Quality Control

Using a local fabricator over a larger manufacturer who’s not in my area gives me more control over the project in every way. 

The fabricator’s proximity to me and their smaller business size allow for more communication between us. We can work closely together to plan the piece and I can stop by at any time during the process to check on its progress.

There’s also a sense of connection that isn’t always there with larger companies. Because my vendors and fabricators know me, they take special care on my projects; and because they know I care about them and their businesses, they don’t hesitate to go the extra mile for me. My clients, in turn, reap the rewards of those relationships in the outstanding quality of their items.

Better Value

Whenever an item is custom, it’s probably going to cost more than buying something ready made. But having a piece made for them offers my clients a better value because they’re getting exactly what they want and need. By doing it with a local smaller business, the cost will be far less expensive than working with a larger fabrication company outside of our area as we save on shipping costs, as well as more expensive per item manufacturing.

Top Priority

When your designer works with a local fabricator, you get the benefit of your project not being just another order.

At the end of the day, shopping locally means we’re opting to work with other human beings. Simply knowing my name (and often my face, as I try to visit my fabricators’ studios and workshops in person at least once) instead of just seeing an order number makes a huge difference in the level of service I’m given. 

That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for buying many furnishings and other items from larger manufacturers (and again, I always carefully vet and maintain the closest possible relationships with all of my vendors).  But for certain items, it just makes the most sense to be able to more closely manage the quality and attention to detail by having a smaller local operation craft them instead.

Faster Turnaround 

One of the least obvious benefits of working with a local company is also one of my favorites – the turnaround time for having items made is going to be a fraction of what it would be otherwise.

Between the fact that there are fewer customer orders ahead of yours in the production queue, and because we’re virtually eliminating shipping times, your items will arrive far more quickly than if we were working with a remote manufacturer. And as with every aspect of your design project, time is money (I talked all about that in this post) – especially when the forward progress of your project depends upon items coming in on time. 

My Current Local Shopping Experience

As we speak, I’m having a kitchen range hood and a bar shelving unit being custom made for a couple of clients by my favorite steel fabricator right here in Milwaukee, NextGen Metalworks. 

James has been in business for over 2 years and specializes in fabricating industrial furniture and artwork. He incorporates both reclaimed metal and wood in most of his designs to beautiful effect. I find that James and I work really well together because he takes the time to walk me through how he plans to make my custom piece before starting. He helps me understand any possible limitations with the material, design, and/or dimensions we might run into. That way, we’re able to truly collaborate and work together to create an amazing piece for my client, leaving all of us happy with the process and the results. 

NextGen Metalworks Shop

I know that if James says something won’t work, it won’t work; but I also know he’ll always have an even better way to accomplish what we’re trying to achieve for the design and the client. The perfect example is our custom range hood. James had to come up with a way to install this hood over my client’s existing ventilation insert.  Our dimensions were already tight and we wanted to avoid this hood being too bulky. To that end, James is fabricating the hood in such way that it will slide right over the insert. And even better is that if it ever needs to be removed to access the ventilation unit, the client will be able do so without ruining the integrity of the design. It’s often these kinds of tiny tweaks and features make the end product much better than if we had purchased a ready-made item or for that matter if James and I hadn’t communicated together about what was really needed.  

Because I’m always looking for opportunities to make my clients’ projects run more smoothly and to achieve the best possible results for them, I don’t hesitate to take advantage of the wonderful vendors and fabricators in my area. Having items custom made by them is a creative way to solve design problems for my clients while also giving them something truly special. Doing so locally offers fringe benefits for everyone involved!

Is there something in your home we can help you solve with a local vendor or fabricator’s work? Reach out to us today and let’s talk about it!

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Showing 8 comments
  • Darla Powell

    So true! I love shopping and buying locally for my clients. Great post 🙂

    • Lisa Mohindroo

      Thanks so much, Darla for reading! I’m a fan of your blog. I love your post “5 tips for choosing a wood-look tile.” There is so much that goes into selecting one material but all of those tips are so true.

  • Julie

    I like shopping vintage and unique pieces locally too. I spent some time going around to some of the local import and vintage stores and getting to know their general inventory type. There’s a guy that does a lot of Balinese and Indian imports and another that does mid-century originals.

    As far as local fabricators, I’ve had cabinet makers that had quick turn-around, but I’ve also had some local furniture makers with lead times of 12-14 weeks! I’m dealing with the 12-14 weeks guys right now! You’re lucky you have access to some quick turn around.

    • Lisa Mohindroo

      Yes, I do have some local furniture makers that take a little bit longer. But, before I make anything custom I’ll have a long discussion with my client chatting about the lead time. It’s, unfortunately, the nature of our business! But, most of the time the long lead times by local vendors are a lot less than working with a company outside of my neighborhood. Those companies lead time are easily 20-24 weeks. Which it takes even longer because communication between companies tends to be slower than my local vendors.

      Your local shopping for vintage and unique pieces sound amazing!! Love find unique things locally.

  • Richelle

    I love this article! Shopping local is such an important thing for all trades! Relationship building and face to face interaction!

    • Lisa Mohindroo

      So true Richelle…I love working with all of my vendors and they make the project fun!

  • Janet Lorusso

    I love that hood you are having made! Great post on the value of local resources!

    • Lisa Mohindroo

      Thanks, Janet! It’s still not 100% done but I’ll be doing a post on the finished product. Some delays for this project are happening but, I’m hoping by the end of the month I’ll have some finished photos.

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