Demystifying The Interior Design Store


I've been meaning for a while to do a post on demystifying interior design stores.  Before I started considering interior design as a profession I had no real idea of how such shops operated.  I think I thought you'd only go into one if you wanted, and could afford, to have the owner do a full interior design job on your house.

A good example of how such a shop actually functions is David Gavin in West Didsbury, Manchester.  The owner, Matt, is an interior designer turned retailer.  He knows how to choose product for the shop and he understands how it will work in someone's home.  When you peer through his constantly-changing shop window, you will see shelves of fabric and wallpaper books.  The choice is so vast that it can be quite overwhelming.  If you can come up with a starting point for your search (you want something bold, blue, subtle, glamorous etc. or an image you've seen in a magazine), Matt can direct you to the sample books that might just hold what you want.


 Image above, David Gavin Interiors - those shelves to the left hold fabulous fabric and wallpaper books.

When you go inside you'll see papers and fabrics being used in settings, and that can help you to imagine how a small sample you like in a book could work in your home.  Not everyone would brave the Fornasetti Acquario (fish) paper on all the walls of their living room, but if you saw it here you might think it could be funky on the chimney breast in a study.  The Fornasetti Nuvolette (cloud) paper might be hard to picture on a ceiling in your home, but seeing it used in-situ might help you make the leap to putting it in your dining room:

You might be forgiven for thinking that the Cole and Son Flamingos paper was only really suitable for use in the kind of homes you see in magazines, but when you see it up close on an expanse of wall with a mirror on it you realize it isn't as wild as it might seem:

 It's a shame to limit the choice of fabrics for your home to those you can see in bolts of cloth in fabric outlets and department stores.  Those sample books hold some of the most beautiful fabrics you can imagine.  Some of them will be incredibly expensive but others are a more affordable luxury.  Most of the fabrics in a shop like David Gavin will be priced between £30 and £150.  You might only need two metres for a lovely blind and if you can make the blind yourself that's ok too.

With a bit of direction from the owner,  you can browse through the fabric and wallpaper books and give free rein to your imagination.  A good store will lend you books to try at home and even request samples for you. There is no obligation to buy, as long as you don't use their expertise, time and resources and then go and order on the internet, but then that's a no no with any kind of bricks and mortar shop.

You might find that spending £60 on a roll of wallpaper for the chimney breast, or even a couple of hundred pounds for a wall, is a great investment and finally helps you achieve the stylish look you've been trying for.

It's partly about choosing the right store and building relationships.  The shop round the corner from your house might not be the ideal one for you.  There's an interiors shop in Altrincham, I won't name it, where one of the owners is so hilariously snobby it would make a cat laugh.  More than one of my friends has been unceremoniously ushered out of that shop because some "VIP" celebrity or other was due to arrive!  Not my idea of great customer service.

Check out David Gavin Design here:

I hope I've helped you to see interiors shops with fresh eyes and maybe even persuaded you to give it a go.

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