How do you know when it’s a wise idea to modify something for your personal preferences? Let me share my thoughts and some examples of when designing something custom make a big difference.
As a designer, I believe customization is the ultimate creative vision. Whether it’s with a piece of furniture or a light fixture, going custom gives us total freedom when it comes to color, finish, and scale. We can also create items that hit all our clients’ requirements for functionality. When we are done, we have something completely one-of-a-kind that 100% fits the needs of our clients and adds a lot of value. While it’s not feasible to always go custom, there are several scenarios in which going that route makes a big difference.
Custom lighting can be a wonderful way to add polish and personality to a space. In this traditional kitchen, the unexpected red pendant was tailor-made for the shape of the island and our color specifications. Depending on your space’s architecture, custom lighting can create a unique look and be a perfect fit and scale for your room.
Maximize your floor plan by building out corners or otherwise neglected spaces. We do this often in eat-in kitchens and dining nooks. When you want lots of seating, but lack floor space, a custom banquette or upholstered window seat with built-in storage can be the solution. Combine it with a table you love and chairs that can float from room to room for ultimate flexibility.
In smaller homes or urban apartments, every square inch counts. Unfortunately, nowadays, we are seeing a trend toward a lot of oversized furniture that simply doesn’t work in these tighter spaces. When we find something we love, but the size doesn’t fit, customization lets us scale down pieces to make them appropriate for the space without sacrificing style.
I’ve shared before about the mutual benefits of working with longtime clients. As trust grows over time, we get to know each other better, and oftentimes they become more specific in their preferences. This bathroom is a perfect illustration of that, and a time when customization made their vision come alive. My clients loved these particular backlit mirrors, and were also specific about the uplight they wanted above them. Because they are taller people, we customized extra tall 37-inch vanities (standard height is 32 inches) with drawers tailor-made for storing their specific toiletries, towels, and styling tools. This customization strategy works well for kitchen cabinetry and islands, as well.
When I think of customization at it’s finest, I can’t help but think about this Newport beach house bunkroom. The room was an over-the-garage hangout space, but the family needed extra room for kids to crash when friends and family visited. We built four comfy daybeds with pullout drawers for storage around the perimeter of the room. This kept the middle of the room open for playing.
In this bold urban home office, we custom built out a wall to add loads of storage you couldn’t replicate with standard bookshelves, desks, or modular furniture. For example, the top cabinets have dividers for purses since the homeowners needed the space to function as a combined home office and overflow closet storage. Customization lets us take advantage of every inch of vertical space.
Customization doesn’t only refer to built-in construction. It can also apply to standalone pieces. With this standing desk, our clients wanted something that could be motorized easily to accommodate sitting or standing, and would also fit in with their modern sophisticated style. Because most standing desks are either super industrial for office spaces, or very traditional, we ruled out nearly every ready-made option we found. Customizing the desk allowed us to adapt the scale to the room, select finishes that were in keeping with the other materials in the room, and answer all of the client’s functional needs.
Not everything can or should be customized, but these are some instances where it really counts! Working with an experienced interior designer will help you know when customizing something enhances the style or functionality in a big way. Stay tuned for my upcoming post on common misconceptions about customization. (Hint: Don’t rule it out because of cost.)
Until next time,