Where Do Interior Designers Shop

Last updated:
Brad Smith
Written By Brad Smith

The world of interior design shopping is a thrilling treasure hunt. Picture this: a designer’s eyes lighting up at the sight of a rare vintage piece or the perfect modern sofa. The places where interior designers shop are just as varied and intriguing as the pieces they seek. Knowing these hotspots is key to understanding how professionals create those jaw-dropping spaces we all admire.

In this article, I’ll uncover the favorite shopping venues of interior designers, from exclusive trade-only showrooms to bustling flea markets, and everything in between. I’ll explore the best design centers in the U.S., the charm of antique shops, and the convenience of high-end retail stores and online marketplaces.

For those curious about the interior design profession, check out how much interior designers earn per year.

where do interior designers shop

Key Takeaways

  • Trade-Only Showrooms: Exclusive venues like the Merchandise Mart in Chicago and the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles offer unique products and networking opportunities for interior designers.
  • Antique Shops and Flea Markets: These venues provide unique, vintage items and sustainable shopping options. Notable markets include the Brimfield Antique Flea Market and the Rose Bowl Flea Market.
  • High-End Retail Stores: Popular stores like Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, and West Elm offer luxury and high-quality furnishings.
  • Online Marketplaces: Platforms like 1stdibs, Chairish, Wayfair, Etsy, and Facebook Marketplace provide convenience, variety, and access to global markets.
  • Custom Furniture and Local Artisans: Collaborating with artisans offers personalized, unique pieces and supports local businesses. Notable makers include Holly Hunt and Jonathan Adler.
  • Regional Differences and Sustainable Options: Shopping habits and product availability vary by region. Sustainability is a growing trend, with eco-friendly products and green certifications like FSC and LEED becoming important.

1-2. Trade-Only Showrooms and Design Centers

trade only showrooms and design centers

Trade-only showrooms are specialized venues where interior designers can access exclusive products not available to the general public. These spaces are a paradise for professionals, offering unique, high-quality items that help them create distinctive designs.

Interested in becoming an interior designer without a degree? Read more here.

Trade-only showrooms provide several advantages:

  • Exclusive Access: Designers can find pieces that set their projects apart.
  • Networking Opportunities: Interacting with other design professionals and suppliers.
  • Tailored Services: Personalized consultations and design assistance.

Top Design Centers in the U.S.

Design CenterLocationNotable FeaturesKey Showrooms
Merchandise MartChicago, ILOver 4 million sq ft, numerous showroomsHolly Hunt, Baker Furniture
Pacific Design CenterLos Angeles, CAIconic “Blue Whale,” over 100 showroomsKravet, Donghia
Design Center of the AmericasDania Beach, FL775,000 sq ft, premier high-end designPoggenpohl, Florense
Decoration & Design BuildingNew York, NYOver 130 showrooms, top brandsStark Carpet, JAB Anstoetz
  • The Merchandise Mart in Chicago is a legendary hub for designers. Spanning over 4 million square feet, it hosts hundreds of showrooms offering everything from luxury furniture to innovative lighting solutions.
  • Known as the “Blue Whale,” the Pacific Design Center is an iconic destination for West Coast designers. It features over 100 showrooms and regularly hosts design events and exhibitions.
  • Located in Dania Beach, Florida, this center is a premier destination for high-end design. With over 775,000 square feet of showrooms, it offers a vast selection of home furnishings and accessories.

Accessing trade-only showrooms typically requires proof of your credentials as an interior designer. This could include a business license, a portfolio of work, or membership in a professional organization.

top design centers in the u.s

Many showrooms require designers to register as members. This process often involves providing professional references and paying a membership fee. However, the benefits far outweigh these minor hurdles.

Each design center houses showrooms that are industry favorites. For example:

  • Holly Hunt: Known for luxury furnishings and innovative designs.
  • Baker Furniture: Offers timeless pieces that blend classic and contemporary styles.
  • Kravet: A leader in textiles, providing exquisite fabrics and trims.

3-4. Antique Shops and Flea Markets

antique shops

Antique shops and flea markets are goldmines for interior designers. They offer unique finds and vintage charm that add character and history to any space.

These venues are perfect for discovering rare pieces that tell a story. From mid-century modern furniture to Victorian-era decor, the variety is endless.

flea markets

Shopping for antiques is also a sustainable choice. Reusing and repurposing old items reduces waste and adds a layer of history to modern designs.

Top Antique Shops in the U.S.

top antique shops in the u.s
  1. Brimfield Antique Flea Market (Massachusetts): One of the largest and most famous antique markets in the country, Brimfield offers an incredible array of antiques and collectibles. Designers flock here to uncover hidden treasures.
  2. Rose Bowl Flea Market (Pasadena): Held monthly, the Rose Bowl Flea Market is a favorite among Los Angeles designers. It features over 2,500 vendors selling everything from vintage furniture to unique decor items.
  3. Chelsea Flea Market (New York): Located in Manhattan, the Chelsea Flea Market is known for its eclectic mix of antiques and collectibles. It’s a must-visit for New York designers seeking distinctive pieces.

I once found a stunning Art Deco lamp at the Brimfield Flea Market. It was hidden under a pile of dusty old furniture, but its sleek lines and perfect condition caught my eye. It now sits proudly in one of my client’s living rooms, a testament to the thrill of antique hunting.

Expert Tips – Negotiating Prices

Do Your Research: Know the item’s value before you start negotiating.
Be Polite but Firm: Respectfully offer a lower price and see if the vendor is willing to negotiate.
Bundle Items: Buying multiple pieces from the same vendor can often get you a better deal.

5. High-End Retail Stores

high end retail stores

These stores are known for their high-quality materials and craftsmanship. They offer a level of durability and elegance that mass-market retailers often lack.

  • Restoration Hardware: Restoration Hardware is synonymous with luxury and quality. Their pieces are timeless, with a focus on classic designs that never go out of style. Their Cloud Sofa is a designer favorite, known for its comfort and style. Their flagship store in New York’s Meatpacking District is a must-visit for any designer.
  • Pottery Barn: Pottery Barn offers a mix of traditional and contemporary pieces that are perfect for a variety of design aesthetics. Their collections are stylish yet practical. The Bedford Home Office collection is perfect for creating functional and stylish workspaces. The San Francisco flagship offers an extensive range of products in a beautifully designed space.
  • West Elm: West Elm is known for its modern, chic designs. Their pieces are often trendsetters, bringing fresh ideas into the world of interior design. Their Mid-Century Furniture line is a nod to timeless design with a modern twist. The Brooklyn flagship store is known for its innovative displays and community events.

Each season, these retailers release new collections that reflect the latest trends in interior design. Whether it’s spring pastels or winter jewel tones, staying updated with these collections helps designers keep their projects fresh and stylish.

Stores like Restoration Hardware often offer limited edition pieces that become coveted items. These exclusive releases add a unique touch to any design project.

6. Online Marketplaces

online marketplaces

Online marketplaces offer unparalleled convenience. Designers can browse thousands of products without leaving their office. These platforms provide a vast array of options, from furniture to decor, catering to various styles and budgets.

With online shopping, interior designers can access global markets, finding unique items from artisans around the world. This access broadens the scope of design possibilities and introduces international influences into their projects.

Top Online Platforms

PlatformSpecializationKey FeaturesTarget Audience
1stdibsLuxury furniture and antiquesCurated collections, high-quality itemsHigh-end designers
ChairishVintage and modern decorEclectic mix, easy navigationEclectic and vintage lovers
WayfairWide range of home goodsExtensive inventory, frequent salesBudget to mid-range designers
EtsyHandmade and custom itemsUnique, handcrafted piecesCustom and unique item seekers
Facebook MarketplaceLocal findsLocal buying/selling, great dealsLocal shoppers, budget buyers
  • 1stdibs is renowned for its curated selection of luxury furniture, fine art, and antiques. It’s a favorite among designers for its high-quality and unique pieces.
  • Chairish offers a mix of vintage and modern decor, making it a go-to for eclectic and unique finds. The platform’s curated collections simplify the shopping experience.
  • Wayfair is a giant in the online home goods market. It provides a wide range of products, from budget-friendly to high-end, and is known for its extensive inventory and frequent sales.
  • Etsy is a treasure trove for handmade and custom items. Designers can find unique, handcrafted pieces that add a personal touch to their projects.
  • Facebook Marketplace offers a platform for local buying and selling. It’s perfect for finding unique pieces from local sellers and artisans, often at great prices.

When shopping online, it’s crucial to verify the quality and authenticity of items. Look for detailed descriptions, high-resolution images, and customer reviews.

Shipping and returns can be tricky. Ensure you understand the seller’s policies and consider the logistics of shipping large or fragile items.

7-8. Custom Furniture Makers and Local Artisans

custom furniture makers

Custom furniture allows for personalization, ensuring pieces fit perfectly within a space and match the client’s vision. These unique items often become statement pieces.

local artisans

Working with local artisans supports the community and promotes sustainability. It also fosters a closer working relationship, resulting in pieces that are truly bespoke.

Top Custom Furniture Makers

top custom furniture makers

Some notable custom furniture makers include Holly Hunt, Baker Furniture, and Jonathan Adler. These brands are known for their craftsmanship and innovative designs.

Custom furniture can range from upholstered sofas to handcrafted dining tables. Designers often work closely with artisans to create pieces that are both functional and artistic.

Collaborating with Artisans

collaborating with artisans

Building relationships with local artisans is key to successful custom projects. This collaboration ensures the designer’s vision is realized while incorporating the artisan’s expertise.

I once collaborated with a local woodworker to create a custom dining table. The table’s unique design and impeccable craftsmanship became the focal point of the client’s dining room.

Showcasing Craftsmanship

Custom pieces often showcase the artisan’s skill and creativity. Highlighting these details can add value and interest to the design.

Every custom piece has a story. Sharing these stories with clients can enhance the personal connection to the piece and the overall design.

Regional Differences

regional differences

Shopping habits can vary significantly across regions. For example, designers in New York might prefer the eclectic offerings of city markets, while those in the Midwest may focus on local crafts and antiques.

In cities like Los Angeles, designers might frequent the Rose Bowl Flea Market, while in Texas, the Round Top Antiques Fair is a popular destination.

Local Specialties

Each region offers unique products and styles. For instance, the Southwest is known for its rustic, handcrafted furniture, while the Northeast offers a mix of colonial and modern pieces.

Highlighting regional artisans and markets can provide a sense of place and authenticity in design projects. This approach also supports local economies.

Travel and Discovery

Designers often travel to discover new sources of inspiration and unique items. These trips can lead to unexpected finds that add a special touch to their projects.

During a trip to Italy, I discovered a small workshop that crafted beautiful Murano glass chandeliers. Incorporating these chandeliers into a project added a touch of Italian elegance.

Regional Influences on Design Trends

Regional styles often influence broader design trends. For example, the minimalist aesthetic of Scandinavian design has become popular worldwide.

Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Options

sustainable and eco friendly options

Sustainability is becoming increasingly important in interior design. Eco-friendly trends include using recycled materials, energy-efficient products, and sustainable sourcing.

Consumers are increasingly demanding sustainable products. This shift is driving designers to seek out eco-friendly options.

Sustainable Shopping Venues

Venue/BrandSpecializationEco-Friendly PracticesNotable Products
West ElmSustainable home goodsFSC-certified, responsible sourcingMid-century furniture, decor
VivaTerraEco-friendly furniture and decorRecycled materials, sustainable manufacturingReclaimed wood furniture
The ReformationSustainable luxury furnishingsOrganic materials, low-impact manufacturingLuxurious bedding, furniture
Green DepotGreen building supplies and decorEco-friendly building materials, sustainable decorNon-toxic paints, bamboo flooring

Some shops and markets specialize in eco-friendly products. For example, The Reformation offers sustainably made furniture and decor.

Brands like VivaTerra and West Elm are known for their commitment to sustainability. They offer a range of eco-friendly products that are both stylish and ethical.

Green Certifications

green certifications

Eco-certifications like FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) help identify truly sustainable products.

Look for certifications and ask questions about the sourcing and manufacturing processes to ensure products are genuinely sustainable.

Recycled materials can be creatively used in interior design. For example, reclaimed wood can be turned into stunning flooring or furniture.

I once worked on a project where we used upcycled metal to create a unique, industrial-style coffee table. The result was a striking, eco-friendly centerpiece.

FAQ

Where can interior designers find sustainable furniture?

Interior designers can find sustainable furniture at stores like West Elm, VivaTerra, and The Reformation. These brands are known for their eco-friendly practices and offer a range of sustainably made products that align with modern design trends.

How do interior designers stay updated on the latest trends?

Interior designers stay updated on the latest trends by attending design shows and trade fairs such as Maison & Objet and Salone del Mobile. They also follow industry publications, blogs, and social media accounts of leading designers and brands.

What is the significance of green certifications in furniture shopping?

Green certifications like FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) indicate that products meet stringent environmental standards. These certifications help designers ensure they are selecting genuinely sustainable items for their projects.

Are there specific online platforms for custom furniture?

Yes, platforms like Etsy and CustomMade specialize in custom furniture. These sites connect designers with artisans who can create personalized pieces tailored to specific design needs and preferences.

How important is it to verify the authenticity of antique pieces?

Verifying the authenticity of antique pieces is crucial to ensure their value and quality. Authentic antiques often have distinguishing features and provenance that can be verified through expert appraisal or certification. This guarantees the piece’s history and craftsmanship.

Conclusion

As we’ve explored, interior designers shop at a variety of venues, each offering unique benefits and opportunities. From the exclusive access of trade-only showrooms to the charm of antique shops and the convenience of online marketplaces, these sources provide the materials and inspiration needed to create beautiful spaces.

I encourage readers to explore these venues and consider the impact of their shopping choices. Thoughtful sourcing not only enhances design projects but also supports sustainability and local economies. Whether you’re a professional designer or a design enthusiast, knowing where to shop is the first step towards creating stunning interiors.

Further Reading

For more insights on the interior design profession, you can explore the following articles:

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Written by Brad Smith

CEO & Lead Interior Designer

Brad Smith is an experienced interior designer and the founder of OmniHomeIdeas.com. With a Master's degree in Interior Design from Pratt Institute and a passion for creating safe and healthy living spaces, Brad shares his expert insights and innovative design ideas with our readers. His work is driven by the belief that home is where every story begins.