Saturday, September 19, 2009

Antique Designers Won't Sell

By Cynthia Crossley

In a recent survey, the American Society of Interior Designers reported that 65 percent of its members said they were taking smaller projects, compared with 50 percent in 2008. Designers who were once "high-end," only catering to wealthy clientele, continue to move downscale and use more ways to promote themselves, including Twitter, blogs, and Facebook.

During a recession, when luxury items and services are quickly scratched from family budgets, designers must reinvent themselves to remain successful. An example is offering flat-fee “products” like the predesigned room-in-a-box, which includes a scaled plan of the room, wall colors, color palette, fabric samples, furniture placement, and selection. Instead of revolving around a designer's decorative whims and busy calendar, this option helps cost-conscious clients choose finished rooms that reflect their tastes, schedules, and moderate lifestyles.

Other specialized services that have arisen in the last few years include room-staging for listed houses and makeovers: rearranging rooms, adding fresh fabrics, layering, replacing old pillows, and reupholstering worn-out chairs and sofas. It’s amazing what a grouping of new pillows and some fresh paint can do. These innovative approaches are appealing to those who feel good about saving our environment by reusing instead of thrashing.

Finally, designers have changed where they source. In addition to visiting trade-based, high-end design centers, they also scour the Web, consignment furniture shops, flea markets, estate sales, and auctions — places a trained eye can find the most incredible treasures. I have found beautiful pieces for my clients that were in disrepair, needing only a good sanding, fresh stain, and undated fabrics.

Recession or no recession, the design world has changed permanently. Ironically, designers who don’t modernize themselves will become less-valuable relics of the past — unlike the irreplaceable antiques they sell to their clients.

About the Author

Cynthia Crossley, CEO of Cynthia Crossley Interior Designs, LLC, is an award-winning, licensed interior designer. Known for her expertise in both traditional and contemporary design, she specializes in high-end residential and commercial projects.

Copyright © 2009 by Cynthia Crossley. All rights reserved.