Today, I’m taking you behind the scenes and into one of my best resources and trade secrets: designer showrooms! This is not something I’ve talked about much, but I was recently inspired by one of my favorite new suppliers, Ferguson, who was responsible for donating everything for my Kaleidoscope Project’s bathroom…
Why do I love them so much?
In addition to their stunning products (obviii), when we approached them about working with us on the Kaleidoscope Project, they did not hesitate to participate for even a second! They immediately aligned themselves with the project’s mission of inclusion and diversity and willingly offered to work with an up-and-coming designer like myself.
They also donated everything I needed for my bathroom at 100%, which was incredibly generous. I honestly can’t say enough good things about their company, products, and fabulous team!
With Ferguson as our inspiration, let’s dive deeper into one of the best secret weapons in my toolkit: designer showrooms. What is a designer showroom exactly? What’s in there and who has access? What are the benefits?
Come peek behind these gorgeous scenes…
What is a Designer Showroom?
First things first! A designer showroom is a location where high-end products are exclusively available. Unlike typical retailers (Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn), where products can be purchased by anyone in-person or online, designer showrooms do not carry retail inventory.
There are 2 types of designer showrooms:
- A showroom hosted by a supplier (like Ferguson) that carries several high-end brands in one place. These types of showrooms could range from offering kitchen and bathroom products, to customizable furniture and furnishings, to all of the above.
- A showroom hosted by a specific high-end vendor, which carries all of the different product lines for that one brand.
Who Has Access to Designer Showrooms?
Another question I hear often and one with two answers:
- Some designer showrooms, like Ferguson, allow public access but are only available for visitation and product purchasing by appointment.
- Some designer showrooms are trade-only, meaning you need to be in the design industry (interior designers like yours truly, architects, manufacturers) to be able to make an appointment or place orders.
What are the Benefits of a Designer Showroom? Let me count the ways…
1. Luxury 1-on-1 Service for Complete Design Confidence
As you now know, some showrooms allow public access by appointment, while others require a designer’s presence just to step foot in the door. Why? Because of the level of products and service available.
When I take clients to 1-on-1 appointments in showrooms, it is an experience that combines luxury with education with swoon-worthy eye candy. We have a representative walking around with us, giving us access to his or her full, undivided attention and wealth of knowledge. I especially love that this luxury experience is not about making a sale. (No one wants to be sold to!) It’s about getting educated on the possibilities and making the smartest choices for your home and lifestyle.
When do I take clients into designer showrooms? Usually early on in a design build project. This helps me get an understanding of what they are dreaming of when they are thinking of their new home.
Credit: Lauren Pressey
Fun Fact: Whenever I discover a new designer showroom, I get to play “the client!” For example, my first experience with Ferguson was amazing. I got to ask all my burning questions about their products, and they took the time to walk me through all the specifications, advantages and disadvantages, and more. They even introduced me to some new brands, such as James Martin, whose vanity I ended up choosing for the bathroom in the Empress’s Quarters! Everyone there is extremely knowledgeable and always willing to help via email and in person.
Vanity donated by Ferguson. Credit: Scott Morris
2. Curated Selections for Focused Browsing
Another reason (in my opinion) that designer showrooms aren’t available to the masses is that their sheer size and scope are highly overwhelming for most people. If you have ever walked into a large retail furniture store, I bet you have had the same experience. It’s very difficult to create a cohesive, beautiful design when you’re at the crossroads of Option Overload and Decision Paralysis.
Making this trip with a designer is already helpful, but if the situation is right, I’ll take it a step further by calling ahead to the showroom. Keeping our initial design, palette or concepts in mind, I’ll ask them to set aside my curated selections for our arrival!
When we arrive, I get to walk you through my reasoning for recommending those products, and you can see their quality and material/color options. You can touch them to see how they feel. And best of all, you can visualize how they will fit into your home and lifestyle.
Once you’re warmed up, and if you’re interested in seeing more, we then have the freedom to walk around and look at more options, as well.
What is unique about this time we spend together is that I get a really good sense of your dynamic, a true window into what you like and don’t like, what price points you are comfortable with, and what elements are most important to you. (I.e. price, aesthetics, features and functionalities, etc.)
This is how we get to know each other and how I am able to design your home to tell your story — the one you have now and the one you want to tell in the future.
3. Showrooms Offer Unparalleled Quality… & It’s Noticeable
One of the biggest benefits of designer showrooms is that they carry products in the highest quality available, quality that is far superior to what you can find in retail. Another reason that I like to take clients in to see the products for themselves is that you begin to understand what “high-quality” looks like and why certain items might cost what they do.
You’ll also get to ask questions about the products’ craftsmanship, their materials, their longevity, and the possibilities for customization. You’ll get to see and hear everything at once, and feel in control of (not overwhelmed by) the decision-making.
Grab bar donated by Ferguson.
All of these aspects of the experience combine to inspire confidence in your choices for your home, in the overall design, and in how your home will look and function for you for many years to come.
P.S. After I worked with Ferguson on the Kaleidoscope Project, I immediately scheduled an appointment and brought a client there, so she could have the same experience I had! They did not disappoint.
4. Designer Showrooms Let You Customize Products to Fit Your Home & Lifestyle
In my opinion, one of the best benefits of a designer showroom is the level of customization they offer. Want a product in a different material? They can do it. Want to customize the length of your sofa or pendants or vanity? Done. Want to custom-design a piece directly from the manufacturer for a one-of-a-kind (maybe even heirloom) piece that no one else has? We can make it happen.
I often think about it like this…
When you’re shopping for clothing, have you ever tried to fit yourself into a pair of jeans that simply weren’t right for you? Size didn’t matter, because the cut was all wrong for your body shape, it didn’t look flattering, and it certainly wasn’t comfortable. (We’ve all been there!)
Now, imagine getting a pair of jeans that are custom-made just for you. They fit like a glove and feel so deliciously good they make you wonder why you didn’t do this years ago!. Best of all? They are so high-quality that they will literally last YEARS!! (P.S. I recently discovered Lasso in L.A. that offers this service!)
Dressing your home and designing your lifestyle are the same. Sometimes, the options that already exist will fit. Sometimes, you need a custom solution to reach that Goldilocks sweet spot of “just right” for you. That’s what a designer showroom lets you do. Magic, right?!
Credit: Scott Morris
5. Designer Showrooms Handle Everything from Order to Installation
Last but not least, designer showrooms never leave you hanging. You will not find yourself hunched over a piece of furniture with a screwdriver in your hand, aching fingers, and swear words gathering on the tip of your tongue. (If you’ve ever assembled IKEA furniture, you know what I’m talking about!)
Designer showrooms offer a quality of service that is bar none. They handle all orders, answer questions, offer alternatives (in case something is backordered), and oversee delivery. In the event that installation is required, they will make it happen and clean up the mess of cardboard and packing materials after.
They also have amazing follow-up, are available if you have any questions about your product after, and in some cases, are your go-to resource for warranties or immediately resolving any rare repairs down the road… though in my experience, the quality is so high, you won’t need repairs for many years, if ever. (Yes, Ferguson ticks all of these boxes, and they have come through for me and my clients in more ways than one!)
In other words, once you’re a client of theirs, they take care of you at every step of the process and long into the future. Count me in.
Vanity donated by Ferguson. Credit: Scott Morris
I bet you’re itching to get your feet inside the doors of a designer showroom now! All of the above is what I have experienced myself, first hand, and it truly is as phenomenal as it sounds. A lack of public access keeps these showrooms from being crowded, keeps the level of service high, and ensures that you are getting the one-on-one attention and spectacular results you need.
Ready to start designing a custom home? Renovating? Furnishing? I would love to help! Reach out to me here and let’s create some livable magic together…