I took a quick break on this series for the Thanksgiving weekend– very excited to be back again sharing industry insights on the process of design. I shared how we begin a design plan, and then how we build a floor plan. Today I’m sharing how we select the right pieces for our individual clients.

I often hear myself saying to clients that “not all chairs (wallpaper, light fixtures, countertops, etc.) are created equal.” What do I mean by this? The style, the materials, its country of origin, will impact the price, the durability, the product longevity of a piece- and what someone picks is going to be up to their values, budget, and lifestyle. It’s my job as designer to help guide them to picking that perfect piece.

Lisa Canning Chair comparison


Let’s compare these two dining chairs. Chair A is from a large chain retailer, price point $109 sold as is. Chair B is from a custom furniture company, and can cost $900 upwards pending fabric, finish of legs, nail heads.

At first glance they look fairly similar- both have arms, dark legs, low profile back. But with insider knowledge, lots of differences.

Chair A- comes in a box you assemble yourself, deliver yourself, available immediately if in stock, painted legs are fastened to the body of the chair with screws that need to re-tightened over time, 2 options for fabric covers, no product warranty, will probably last around 5 years.

Chair B- available through professional designers, customizable in whatever fabric you like, solid kiln dried hardwood frame, luxe nailhead detail, handmade product takes 4-8 weeks + to be delivered to your door, company will stand behind the product if anything happens to it, will probably last 20 years +.

Which chair to choose is going to be determined by a client’s unique set of values. Here’s a few ways I measure those values to help client’s make the right call.

Client purchasing values


This infographic I created demonstrates some of the factors that would impact the client’s decision to go with Chair A or Chair B. Based on this particular pyramid, I’d likely advise the client to go with Chair B, seeing that the values of eco conscious materials and quality craftsmanship are more important than lead time or cost. This obviously takes into account this client has a budget of $7,200 upwards to spend on chairs vs. a budget of $872. Regardless of how large a budget is, priorities need to be made to help allocate where to spend funds- again this will look totally different to people- and a big value that comes with hiring a designer is that they can walk a client through where these values lie on their scale of importance.

Client product value scale


Even on the largest of budgets I’ve worked on clients have a threshold for where to spend funds. And even on the largest of budgets- money eventually gets tight. So another value that comes with working with a designer is that the designer can help spend your money wisely- and again assist you in figure out where your values lie. This infographic I created illustrates my personal values when it comes to some of the pieces in a typical living room / dining room. I value wallpaper more than I do art, and the chairs I sit on more than the surface of the tabletop. And yes- I personally would spend more on pillows than my couch (so obsessed with throw pillows).

What I recommend is before you start any home decor / construction project large or small, you create your own graphs / lists / charts that help you visualize what you care about. If you’re lost- contact us. We’ll help you sort out where your values are.


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