Put the Finishing Touches on Your Client’s Home

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Text by Kaitlin Madden

There are two things every seasoned interior designer knows.

First: when it comes to turning a house into a beautiful, personal, functional home, the devil is truly in the details, whether it’s the one-of-a-kind oil painting sourced for above the sofa, the antique chandelier discovered at a local flea market, or the vignettes arranged on the new built-ins.

And Second: the hardest part of the job can be persuading clients to spend a portion of their budget on such accents and accessories.

Interior design by Wakefield Design Center

Photography by Paul Johnson

It was this common challenge that led George Snead, owner of Wakefield Design Center in Stamford, Connecticut, to create one of his showroom’s most popular programs, “Finishing Touches”.

“We’d found that many of our interior designers can get their clients to agree to about 75 percent of a design. They’ll okay the paint color, drapes, the sofa, a coffee table, the area rug, but a lot of times they’ll say something like, ‘I have to wait to see what the rest of the room looks like before I order the accent pieces,’ ” Snead explains. “Then on install day, the client comes home to a room that really doesn’t look as great as they’d expected, and the designer isn’t able to photograph the project for their portfolio, and the reason is that it’s not 100 percent done.”

The “Finishing Touches” Program, modeled after a similar service Snead created for a retailer he once worked for, offers interior designers the ability to complete a room with all of the accents and details needed to tie it together—at no upfront cost to either designer or client—so that the homeowner can see what the space looks like when it’s properly finished.

Interior design by Carey Karlan of Last Detail Interior Design

Photography by Paul Johnson

“Designers come into our showroom and pick out end tables, pillows, accessories, and artwork. Then, in effect, we go in and stage their client’s home on installation day so that when the client comes home they see the space completely finished,” says Snead. “There’s no obligation to purchase anything. We leave the client with a list, and they have 72 hours to decide if there’s anything they want to buy.”

“There’s no creative expense to the project, either. The items that designers can choose from through “Finishing Touches” are the same ones they’d have access to if they were purchasing outright. This includes the showroom’s 150-plus top-of-the-line and boutique manufacturers such as Lee Industries, Vanguard, Century, Bernhardt, Made Goods, Mr. Brown, Julian Chichester, and Oly, as well as an extensive and largely exclusive art collection. The latter, says Snead, has proven to be one of the biggest draws for designers. He estimates that a majority of what is chosen through the “Finishing Touches” program is artwork.”

Interior design by Susan Glick of Susan Glick Interiors

“There are so many blank walls, and so many decisions. On the art end, roughly 60 percent of the artwork is original and we own all of it. We have pieces by artists from New England, but we go far beyond that because we like to offer art you can’t otherwise find around here. We have pieces from New Mexico, Texas, Florida, France, you name it,” he says.

In fact, some of his design clients use “Finishing Touches” exclusively for art, since Snead and his team serve as both art consultants and installers through the program.

Interior design by Patty Carmody of Patty Carmody Interiors

Photography by Paul Johnson

In whatever capacity a designer chooses to work with “Finishing Touches”—be it choosing a few accessories, selecting art for an entire home, or working starting with an empty space at the very beginning of a project—Snead has found the program to be a hit among both designers and their clients. “It’s amazing, the results,” he says. “All of us are visual. We all do better actually seeing something in its completed state than trying to picture it in our minds.”

“Finishing Touches” is offered complimentary to designers in lower Fairfield and Westchester counties, and for a moving fee to designers outside the area. For more information, visit wakefielddesigncenter.com

 

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