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The Lap of Luxury on a Budget



If the words “custom-made furniture” automatically trigger associations of divas and billionaires, think again. Hiring designers to create custom pieces is becoming more popular for regular folk, and often it won’t cost you more than a similar new item in a high-end furniture store, and probably much less than an antique. Going custom can be the best way to get exactly what you want for a price you’re able to pay. Below are some guidelines on how to avoid common costly pitfalls that could keep you from cashing in on a cost-effective class when working with a designer.

Do Your Homework

You probably already have a pretty good picture in your mind of how you want your handmade tables and other pieces to look, but now you’ve got to find an actual picture, or better yet, several pictures, to show any designer you’re considering hiring. Before you approach a design studio, take a look at its portfolio and samples to determine whether this studio is able to create what you want within your budget. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

Before you submit your design specifications, be absolutely sure of your measurements and materials. Cut out a piece of cardboard in the shape of the piece to see how it fits into your space. Bring home swatches of finish or upholstery to check the colors in different lights. Custom furniture makers will work with you to create exactly what you want, but your finished piece will only be as good as the prep work you put into it.

Trust the Experts

Given the prices of custom-made luxury furniture, it may be tempting to bypass the designer and go directly to a fabricator. While you may get lucky, it’s a safer bet to go with someone who is experienced in the field and knows where to find the right materials and which fabricator can get the job done.

Custom-built pieces will still cost you more than mass-produced items at the chain stores, but consider the value rather than the up-front cost. A quality custom piece will last for several lifetimes if the treated right (this is another excellent reason to think carefully about every aspect of the design). If constructed correctly, you may never have to buy another sofa or dining table. Beyond the monetary investment, there is also the personal value of owning something that is just exactly right and made specifically for your home. Even if you can’t be a billionaire, you can still feel the thrill of a personalized piece of furniture.