When clients express a desire for a one-of-a-kind design, how do you accommodate them? One of our favorite ways to personalize interior design is through custom furnishings. There’s nothing more unique than having a piece made especially for your clients! There are many benefits to custom pieces from an interior design business owner’s perspective as well. Custom pieces can help you increase your profit margin, offer exclusivity for your clients, and establish a signature style for your business. However, ordering custom furnishings can be quite complex. With nearly unlimited possibilities for custom pieces, it requires strong knowledge of different product specifications, as well as an understanding of materials and fabrication.
Items like drapery, area rugs, and headboards are a great place to start if you are just jumping into the world of custom furnishings. Below, we have rounded up some of the most important things to consider for these items, as well as general things to know about the custom design process. Use it as a point of reference to get started with custom orders, and don’t forget to save this post for future projects, too!
General Things to Know
Let’s start with the general things you need to know when you are ordering custom furnishings. Most importantly, it is your responsibility to make sure you do everything you can to help your client envision what the final result will look like. Doing so will protect your business and your clients from disappointing experiences that do not meet their expectations. Be sure to share samples and shop drawings with your clients for all custom pieces, and don’t place any orders until you have received their written approval for them. You should also consider getting a cut for approval (CFA) if you are creating a custom piece that involves fabric. A CFA is helpful to make sure that the dye lot of the material you are purchasing matches the sample you provided for your clients.
It is also a good idea to establish a dedicated network of tradespeople who can help you complete custom orders efficiently. As you begin building your network, make sure that it includes a:
- Wallpaper installer
- Custom drapery workroom
- Custom upholstery workroom
Custom pieces often involve collaboration between two or more of these tradespeople. For example, a custom sofa might involve your millworker for the frame and your custom upholstery workroom. It is your responsibility to act as the mediator and communicate information to all parties involved, so that everyone is on the same page throughout the production process.
While your network should include knowledgeable professionals, we do not recommend leaning on your manufacturing connections for details that require extreme accuracy and immediate attention. Most of these tradespeople spend their workday in the field, so lines of communication are not always timely. It is best to learn the necessary calculations for different products yourself. For instance, fabric for cushions is specified by the square inch, but fabric for drapes is specified by width. You can create an Excel spreadsheet that is coded for these variations, so that you or one of your team members can easily calculate the quantity needed for any given custom piece. This is just one example of many special considerations that you may come across when ordering custom furnishings. You can learn more about other special considerations for custom furnishings on our blog.
Drapery has special considerations that can make a custom order seem like a daunting task at first, but it is actually one of the easiest items to customize. Sizing errors can be fixed quickly because rods are adjustable and most fabrics can be hemmed. Ask your workroom for the hem allowance to determine how much leeway you will have when it comes to adjusting the length of a fabric.
Even though errors can be corrected for drapery, it is still necessary to take measurements. We recommend measuring the ceiling height in at least 3 different locations where the drapery will be installed. In many buildings, especially in cities, ceiling heights can vary greatly. Taking more than one measurement will help you ensure accuracy for the final product.
Drapery is measured by fabric width. You will need to calculate yardage and fullness based on the measurements you have taken. You will also need to consider pleat style, type of tape, hardware, and several other factors in your specifications. Check out our blog to learn more about how to calculate and specify drapery.
Like drapery, you can also customize an area rug with ease. It has fewer specifications than a detailed piece of custom furniture or millwork, and it’s often possible to correct errors with a quick fix. The most important considerations for this piece are pile height and binding type. If the rug will be placed in front of a door, you should check that the pile height accommodates the door swing. Your design is not practical if your clients can’t open the door without bunching up the rug. However, if you do forget to check pile height on a rare occasion, there is a simple solution to remedy the situation: you may be able to trim the pile to fit underneath the door swing.
Stanton Carpet is our go-to vendor for custom area rugs of any size or style. They offer thousands of options for high-quality rugs, along with samples for each. Their custom rug visualizer makes it easy to design a rug online and communicate the end result to your clients in minutes. There are plenty of choices for finishes, too, with a visual guide that clearly illustrates each type. Unlike some vendors, Stanton ships to residential addresses. This is especially convenient when you want to send samples to your clients for approval. If you would like to see samples of a particular style, our team can help you order them through the 4Dbiz portal. Members who have signed up for our Member Benefits directory have access to free samples and a discount of 50% on Stanton orders! Schedule a demo call with us to learn more.
Last but not least, let’s talk about headboards. They are a great product to customize because they ship easily in one piece, and there are a variety of options to accommodate any price point. For example, if your client is looking for an inexpensive option, you can add a French Cleat to the wall instead of creating a headboard that goes all the way to the floor. Your client will be happy that you were able to meet their budgetary needs, while also achieving a thoughtful, high-end aesthetic.
To begin customizing a headboard, follow these steps:
- Define the size
- Pick your shape
- Choose your mounting style (French Cleat with/without legs)
- If the product has legs, determine the mattress height
- Select your fabric
- Accessorize (if desired); accessories may include welts, shirring, quilting, decorative tapes and cords, tufts, nailheads, and more.
We recommend partnering with a workroom that is located in your area or close to the project site. Shipping can be expensive, and this will help you cut down on related costs for your client. It will also help to reduce the risk of potential damage to the product while in transit.
Keep in mind that you will need to know the yardage requirements for standard bed sizes when creating a custom headboard. You can use this chart as a reference:
Through the 4Dbiz Virtual Workroom, you can create custom window treatments, quilting by the yard, custom bedding, table linens, pillows, cushions, bolsters, and more. Place a custom order request through the 4Dbiz portal, and our team will guide you through the process to make sure that it runs smoothly from start to finish. We can help with reviewing specifications, ordering samples, producing shop drawings, creating sign-off sheets, and placing final orders. Our competitive pricing will also help you maximize your profit margin. You can see our full price list here.
Ready to begin ordering custom furnishings for your designs? Book a demo call with our team to learn more about how we can collaborate on the custom pieces of your clients’ dreams!