To Each Her Own
A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about my experiences in redecorating my master bedroom.
I mentioned in that post that while I had access to far more choices than most consumers, there was one important piece of that room where I was not able to find "just the right thing." I won't get into what that piece of the puzzle was, but it was the one thing that I feel like I settled on for now, and will just keep looking for that perfect piece.
I quickly received a response to that from someone in the business who suggested that I should never have to settle anymore, because there's so much customization now available in home furnishings.
It was an interesting point, and I think that to a growing extent, he's quite correct.
Over the past couple of market seasons, I have noted the increasing availability of customization. While there's pretty much always been the ability to select upholstery fabrics and trims, the cost of doing so has come down significantly, and the speed at which upholstery is produced has also improved. There are lampshade options available to complete a lamp just as you may have envisioned. And that wall décor that you love? You can now get it in any size to accommodate any wall. Though there aren't a lot of customizable options in decorative pillows, the marketplace for them is so extensive now that it's not hard to find exactly the right ones.
It all goes back to the need that I think we all have to truly express ourselves in our homes. We're no longer satisfied with our homes looking like everyone else's.
It was a point well-made by the HGTV Property Brothers during a seminar at the Atlanta market in July. In offering advice for staging homes effectively, they suggested that the common realtor advice to "paint everything beige" was the "worst advice ever." Why? Because people like to live in interesting spaces. So, while the color you may have selected may not be the one that the buyer would choose, the fact that your home reflects a level of individuality makes it a better seller than just another vanilla environment.
This new way of thinking is a major driver in the interior design business right now. Designers are working harder than ever to create environments that truly replicate the homeowners' vision - not their own. Interior designers are a major growth channel right now (second only to online sales, according to HAT research), and the signs indicate that this upward trend will continue.
Consumer perception is changing, and it's dragging the (often laggard) home furnishings business along with it. The fact is, it's no longer good enough to just try to sell the pieces and parts that make up a room. But maybe by offering customizable products or interior design services you can move your own business forward by giving your customer exactly what she is looking for.