Thursday, May 13, 2010
Today's guest post comes courtesy of Susie from Maddie G Designs. Susie offers do-it-yourself designers access to trade-only fabrics, wallpapers, furniture and accessories at below retail prices as well as traditional interior decorating services for DC-area (and virtual) clients. A few months ago, I contacted Susie about helping me purchase several rolls of Osborne & Little's Summer Palace for my powder room and she quickly helped me locate a few rolls at an excellent price. In addition to her trade-only buying service, Susie also authors an excellent blog by the same name.
* * *
I was very flattered when Averill invited me to participate in this series. Since finding Odi et Amo, it has quickly became one of my favorite blogs. I am not an attorney like Averill, but worked in a similar field, doing investor relations and transactional work for a large private equity firm in DC before starting my family and switching gears. So, perhaps I identify with the whole corporate vs. creative pull that Averill often alludes to. Regardless, I know I love her style and quickly pop over when my blog roll indicates a new post is up on her site.
I should start my list by saying that I hate paying retail and will avoid it at all costs. But, I also do not have the time to be a dedicated bargain shopper….so my selections are a combination of practical, available and every now and then, the special piece you just have to have.
I first stumbled upon this source when my sister lived in Atlanta almost 10 years ago. They specialize in custom handmade reproductions. If you can imagine it, they can probably build it. And, I’ve found their prices to be very reasonable. I’ve got an armoire that I bought off their floor many years ago, and have since had a custom buffet made for the recessed space in my previous townhouse dining room. It is now in a hallway off my family room.
To give an example of what they can do, I’ve fallen in love with the Cherington Bookcase by William Yeoward, seen in Amanda Nisbet’s home below. But, the piece is pricey and overseas shipping is expensive and time consuming. Nottingham is able to help me with a reproduction, where I’ll be able to customize the color for the unit, in additional to the interior of the cabinet, if I so choose.
Photo credit Werner Straube for Traditional Home.
I first found this company after I fell in love with a Candice Olson sofa from one of her Divine Design episodes. The sources on her site led me to Norwalk Furniture, where she has designed a line of upholstered furniture that they manufacture. I now have two Norwalk pieces in my home, the Candice Olson sofa in my living room (pictured below) and a sectional that I had upholstered in a COM (customer’s own material).
I purchased my pieces through a trade only showroom. However, I know that there are Norwalk franchised furniture stores throughout the US. Click here for store locations.
I should add that the company has an incredible selection of fabric options which helps keep the prices down (vs. supplying your own). If you click here, you can design your own Norwalk upholstered pieces right down to contrasting welt and accent pillows. I love this feature!
There are two Greenfront furniture locations in Virginia. The most impressive is in Farmville, Va. The town literally centers around this furniture store. It is divided into warehouse after warehouse of furniture (over 700,000 square feet of showroom space) from top brands such as Henredon, Hickory Chair, Lane Venture, Century, etc.
The Northern Virginia location is impressive, but much smaller. But, they have all of the furniture books and fabric samples, so you still have access to many of the same options as at the Farmville location. Of course, buying off the floor has its benefits in terms of lack of lead time and often lower price.
Over the years, I’ve purchased a Henredon dining table, buffet and sunroom couch, as well as a Hickory Chair table and chairs that currently reside in my eat-in kitchen. If you are out of the area, this place is worth a call or email as you compare pricing.
I initially found this gem through Meg of Pigtown Design blog. Debois operates a large warehouse/storefront in Baltimore that specializes in textile remnants, piece goods and second hand clothing. The store is set up into three sections-- fabric, vintage clothing and thrift items.
If you are looking for designer fabric at deep discount prices and are in the Baltimore area, this is the place to be. No fabric is priced at over $10/yard. And, most are well below that. They have a large selection of Ralph Lauren, Duralee and Thibaut. And, upon digging, I found Lee Jofa (including Kelly Wearstler Groundworks Collection), Kravet (including Barbara Barry and Barclay Butera), Schumacher, Quadrille and China Seas.
If you are into fabric, you do not want to miss this place! You really have to visit in person, the owner indicated she doesn’t have time to take calls and handle shipping for one-off requests. But, if you are near Baltimore, it is well worth the visit.
This company operates a monthly tag sale out of three old barns in Buckeystown, MD. It is about an hour north of the DC metro area. They offer comfortably chic architectural salvage, fine home fragrance and linens, garden, vintage and new home furnishings and accessories. They also offer a huge selection of vintage & antique furniture.
The monthly sale is set up with various stalls for vendors and the prices, in my opinion, are generally very reasonable. This is a great spot to find spiffed up flea market finds and one-of-a kind home accessories. If you are a do-it-yourself-er, they offer a barn full of estate/garage sale furniture that is waiting for some TLC.
I would be remiss if I did not mention my own venture, a buying service offering trade only products for a fraction of retail cost. This business started out of my desire to furnish my own home. I came across many “trade only” items I’d see in magazines and blogs and did not have a way to purchase them without hiring a designer. I called a few local ones and none had the time, or interest, to help me with these one-off purchases.
After deciding to leave the corporate world to stay at home and raise my daughter, I decided to put my business skills (I’m a CPA who worked in private equity fund management for many years) to work and create a business out of what I saw as an opportunity. The response has been great, and my customers seem to like the personalized service and the low prices.