Is custom or stock right for your home?

Emilie Arkin

You’ve finally decided, after months of looking at the living room, that it just isn’t cutting it anymore. You’re redoing it.

You still like your couch, and the table’s going to stay. But everything else goes.

But where do you go from here? Do you call in a designer and go custom? Or do you go it alone, depending on the buyers for the big boxes to decorate?

Folks from both sides of the issue weigh in on the benefits of tapping them to deck out your dwelling.


CUSTOM: Many of Designs of the Interior consultant Jen Ranken’s clients are on the prowl for unique pieces.

“When their neighbors see the piece, they (the owner) can say it’s theirs and only theirs,” says the Naperville design consultant. “They can say no one else has it.”

The customer can determine everything from fabrics and sconces to wood finishes and shapes.

“Your imagination is really the limit,” Ranken says.

STOCK: While Bed Bath & Beyond staffers can’t offer an endless selection of fabric choices, spokesperson Catherine Gentile says the options are far from limiting.

“We have a large selection, which our customers enjoy being able to have at their fingertips. And just by looking at our in-store displays they can see options to customize, ways to display and use different finials,” she says.

Someone by your side

CUSTOM: A designer is on your side and helping you every step of the way, Ranken says.

“People can relate their tastes and their ideas to us, and then they can step back and let us work our magic,” Ranken says.

Scale is one issue that can overwhelm the novice but is second nature to designers, she says.

“Someone can find something on the floor of a store and think it’s great. Then they get it home and it’s just wrong. That can be a really costly mistake,” Ranken says.

STOCK: Though their associates aren’t designers, Gentile says they know the store’s merchandise.

“Our customers are our No. 1 concern. No matter where they are, our (staff) is extremely knowledgeable of our products and can help customers select the product that best serves their needs,” she says.

And while a Bed Bath & Beyond associate can’t guide people with in-home consultations through the redecorating process, Gentile says the company offers some great tips on its Web site, The product guides highlight issues people might not otherwise think of on their own.

Is time on your side?

CUSTOM: From order to install, it can take eight to 10 weeks before an order is filled, Ranken says. An order is at the mercy of the process -- fabrics have to arrive for upholstered items, time is necessary to build furniture, and then there’s sewing.

“But it’s worth the wait to get exactly what you want and exactly what you need, rather than just settling on something,” she says. “With all the creativity that goes into something like this, it’s really gratifying to take something from a sketch to the end result.”

STOCK: Gentile says Bed Bath & Beyond customers enjoy the convenience of walking in with an idea and walking out with what they wanted.

“They can see how the fabric feels, they can see how it hangs,” Gentile says. “And when they’re done, they walk out the door ready to install it in their home right away.”