Some Of The Best Materials Are Sold “To The Trade Only”

One of the reasons some people are hesitant to engage the services of a professional interior designer is the common misconception that doing so would represent an expensive “luxury.”

“Only wealthy socialites with more money than sense hire interior designers!”

“The guys at the paint store are great at helping you pick out colors… why in the world would I spend all that money on an interior designer?”

“What’s the big deal?  You go to the big box store, pick out the stuff you want, and they send somebody out to put it in.  I can do that, easily…


“…Maybe I should go into ‘interior design’ myself.”

It Looks So Easy On TV…

With the great and growing popularity of a number of home improvement programs on cable television, it’s no wonder “DIY” – Do It Yourself – is all the rage these days.

Those shows do make it look easy to design and remodel a beautiful space.

However, start in on your own DIY interior design project, and you’ll quickly become aware of one major obstacle to enjoying the success the performers on those programs achieve.

You can’t get the materials they can get.

At least, not all of them… and certainly not some of the best design materials you see on TV.

The industry is changing, in part precisely because of the proliferation of DIY television programs… increasingly, manufacturers are making more flooring, wall covering, fabrics, and other design materials available to the general public.

But they still reserve some of the best stuff… and, certainly, their best prices… for their colleagues in the industry (professional, trained, experienced interior designers).  These materials are sold “To The Trade Only,” and as a member of the general public, you can’t get them easily.  In some cases, you can’t get them at all.

This does make business sense for the manufacturers of design materials.  Consider the many material choices available today… colors, textures, styles, you name it.  A manufacturer or “design center” would have to spend money to market to, educate, and “hand-hold” the general public – you – that they don’t have to spend when selling to pro designers.

(That’s why many manufacturing segments offer both wholesale and retail product channels.  Think of the super-specialized hair care products you can’t get at the store, but the owner of a salon can order.)

So, bottom line, in some cases the only way you can get that drapery fabric or flooring material with which you’ve fallen in love may be to hire a professional designer.

And even if you can get the materials you want from your local open-to-the-public design center, look out: you’ll pay a “public” price that’s often far higher than what your designer would pay… even if they claim to be giving you a “trade” price.

It’s not uncommon for retail establishments to have confusing price structures.  While you may be getting a discount from what another retailer would charge you, chances are, you won’t get the same true “trade price” your designer would get for the same material.

And that “expensive” designer?  In many cases, they’ll pass those savings on to you, and save you more on materials than it costs to hire them in the first place!

… Even DIYers Can Benefit From A Pro Designer’s Help

You’ve watched hours of cable-TV home improvement shows… you consider yourself pretty creative, even somewhat artistic… you have a good eye.

You’re “design savvy!”

That doesn’t mean you can’t get some professional advice and guidance from an experienced interior designer.

Many designers these days will sign on to your project as consultants, there to help with what you need and leave other things in your capable hands.

Remember, even if you feel pretty confident with your own DIY ability, you’re not a professional designer.  Things are bound to come up in the course of your project – problems, obstacles, challenges – that you didn’t anticipate.  But your design consultant has probably seen that problem before – and solved it.

And great advice is not all you’ll get from your design consultant… don’t forget that “trade only” discount on all the materials for your beautiful new space!

You aren’t as “connected” as your professional interior designer is.  And that’s okay!  This is your designer’s business.  They not only know where to get the best materials from among the myriad choices available today… they can get that good stuff for you at a discount (and often a substantial one).  So don’t assume professional design help is a luxury you can’t afford.  It might just be a necessity your project can’t do without.

About the Author:

This is a guest post by Christa Dahl-Grover a Denver interior designer and owner of Dahl House Design.