Whether you’re looking to redo your home from top to bottom or freshen up one room, Connecticut has home furnishing stores that make it easy. Each one offers in-house interior design services with talented designers on hand to navigate you through myriad choices in not only furniture, but rugs, lighting, window treatments and more.
“Our in-home design services are ideal for busy schedules,” says Pamela Montgomery, a sales manager at Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams’ Greenwich store. “We’re available in person at the store or we will come directly to your home to see your space and take measurements. We’re flexible and can answer questions on the phone or email too.”
Montgomery notes that oftentimes it’s easier if you visit the showroom first. “You can walk the floor and get a sense of what you like or don’t like,” she says. “We have all of our lines of furnishings right here, so you can really see everything up close. Plus, we have designers available to help you.”
Lillian August’s flagship 100,000-square-foot showroom in Norwalk also has a full-service design department. “We have all the best brands of furniture to choose from as well as in-house carpet and window-treatment departments,” says the store’s senior interior designer, Richard Cerrone.
Having everything under one roof makes designing a home space a one-stop shop for both the client and the designer. Clients benefit from the convenience of being able to touch and feel products, as well as test and sit on different furniture pieces. It simplifies coordination and ultimately reduces design time. For designers, it’s nice to be able to quickly walk across the showroom to collaborate with the head of the rug department about a project or bring a client to the window-treatment department to view different options.
“What sets us apart is that we can go beyond what we carry and get you anything,” notes Elizabeth McGann, director of marketing and client relations for Lillian August. “If you want modern, we can do that. If you want traditional, we can do that. Our access to resources is unlimited.”
A senior interior designer with Saybrook Home in Old Saybrook, Molly Dodd says she also enjoys working with different vendors as well as having rug, lighting and window-treatment departments in-house. “There’s definitely an advantage of having everything at our fingertips and the client able to see it all right here. I can easily pull a rug or fabric and select different furniture pieces for the client to sit on.”
Dodd adds: “There’s a lot of choice out there. But some people don’t want a lot of choice. It’s overwhelming. I’ll start by listening to my clients to get a sense of their style, so that I can narrow the choices and help them decide. When starting a whole-room project, I like to start with the rug because it makes it easy to pull fabrics.”
Cerrone does the same. “I like to start from the ground up. Selecting a carpet is very important. Then I’ll move on to upholstery and fabrics. Every project is different, so it could also be an amazing piece of art that I’ll build a room around.”
Before beginning any project, Cerrone says that he asks a lot of questions, “How will they live in the space? Who will be using the space? What are their interests? Are they collectors? I like to know as much as I can from a client to help with the design of the room so it reflects their personality.”
When choosing a color palette, he says that a lot depends on the location of the home and, again, a client’s personality. “Do they want calm and relaxing or do they want drama? Is it a house at the beach, mountains or an apartment in the city?” he asks.
While designers gauge their clients’ personalities, Lillian August also employs project managers who do the same. “Our project managers offer another layer of support. They take the time to talk with clients when they come in. Personality is important when matching a designer and client because designing a home is a very personal experience and a relationship often develops,” McGann says. “Plus, should any issues or concerns arise throughout the process, another layer is helpful.”
“From a design manager to customer service and delivery departments, Lillian August offers a supportive work environment,” Cerrone says. “I love the range of projects that I work on, but my favorite style is transitional with a twist. It’s always fun to add something unpredictable to mix it up. I love comfort, sophistication and luxury.”
Dodd also embraces a casually elegant and transitional design style. “I’m drawn to saturated color, interesting textures and architecturally interesting furniture, but I can work with any style.”
Should you want to save yourself the time, money and headache of trying to either piece an entire room together or decide on a new sofa, a designer offers an extra set of eyes — ones that are expertly trained to see more.
10 designing secrets
Interior design professionals are full of great ideas. Here are some gems to inform your next home project.
Whether you lean on an interior designer for all decorating decisions, or you’re the type who has a natural eye for design, you would be wise to brush up on some design tips and tricks before embarking on a home-design project. Here are some secrets straight from the pros to help you with your decorating needs.
Don’t be afraid to DIY: If you have the eye and the confidence to design your own space, go for it!
Start on the floor: Always begin your project with a well-thought-out floor plan to make sure everything works together.
Mix old and new: Tastefully chosen antiques and modern pieces belong together and can achieve a one-of-a-kind look.
The wonders of wallpaper: Yes, wallpaper! You can liven up ordinary spaces with intriguing colors and patterns. But think small — areas of transition such as hallways and pantries are ideal choices.
Switch the switches: Upgrade your light switches to add a touch of character.
When in doubt, paint it out: Paint is powerful. Sometimes, you don’t need to replace all your furnishings to freshen up your space. A fresh coat of paint might just do the trick.
Look to the ancients: Grand historic spaces are considered classics for a reason. Look for layouts, patterns and materials that can make your abode one they’ll be talking about for years to come.
Coffee table talk: A coffee table can make a statement in a living area, especially one that’s open concept. Make sure it’s a well-proportioned piece that grounds the arrangement.
Invest in upholstery: Look for high-quality materials that will inject life into your space and stand up to years of use.
Quick fixes: If you’re after a fast, impactful update, swap out pieces that take up a lot of surface area. Rugs, paint color and window treatments are relatively easy to alter but will make a big difference.