The owner of a Merrick home went shopping for a few accessories to spruce up her lackluster family room — and wound up doing a complete room redesign with the help of a professional. The best part? The design service was free.
The woman had wandered into the Pottery Barn store at Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station. That’s where she met Karen Carter, who works there as a "Design Crew" home stylist — a professional who is trained to help customers, either in the store or in their homes, with everything from measuring, to creating custom floor plans, to choosing paint colors, furniture, fabrics and accessories.
If that level of service sounds expensive, it can be. Interior designers often charge a fee for the initial consultation, plus a retainer, an hourly rate or a cost-plus-markup fee for their services. In 2018, homeowners in the United States paid anywhere from $300 to $40,000 for design services, according to data from HomeAdvisor, a website that connects consumers with screened home improvement professionals.
In Carter’s case, all design services are free except installation, which is available for a fee. Customers usually find that hard to believe at first -- but it actually makes perfect sense from the retailer’s standpoint, Carter says. “For our company, it’s a plus, because it brings people into the store, knowing we have the free service, and it helps sell our products.”
Here's how to get free house help at Pottery Barn and elsewhere:
Free design services:
Design Crew home stylists like Carter offer free consultations and a range of design services at eight Williams-Sonoma, Inc. brands — Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, West Elm, PBteen, Williams Sonoma Home, Rejuvenation, and Mark and Graham — along with some partner brands for products such as paint and upholstery. However, there is no purchase necessary — and no sales pressure. Design Crew stylists don’t make commission, and they’ll work within a homeowner’s budget, tastes and existing décor. For more information, go to williams-sonoma.com.
Similar to Williams-Sonoma, Inc.’s Design Crew, Ethan Allen’s interior design professionals, whose bios and credentials are available to peruse on the store website, provide free consultations online, at a design center or by appointment in your home. They can advise you on anything from choosing a single product to making over a whole room. No purchase necessary, and installation service is available for a fee. For more information, go to ethanallen.com.
Fill in an online form and click a few boxes to indicate your style preferences. A La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries interior designer will meet with you in the store or in your home to customize a design to your budget, advising you on fabric, color and accessory choices. The designer will also oversee the delivery and placement of your furniture. For more information, go to la-z-boy.com.
Attend a free in-store demonstration at Pier 1 on how to quickly update your home’s style for the season. These events may include refreshments, raffles, coupons and member perks. A recent event focused on fall accessories for Halloween and Thanksgiving. The next event, scheduled for 2 to 4 p.m. Nov. 3 will have a Christmas theme and feature a hot cocoa bar. Choose a location and R.S.V.P. at Pier1.com.
Follow along for free or purchase materials to do it yourself at Home Depot workshops. An associate gives in-store demonstrations ranging from decorative crafts to energy-saving solutions to installing a tile floor. From 10 to 11:30 a.m. Nov. 10, a Veterans Day-themed workshop will demonstrate how to make a display case for medals of service, and several holiday-themed workshops are scheduled throughout November. Register online at homedepot.com.
Attend a Design Crew Workshop at West Elm from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 8. at any West Elm store (excluding outlets) to learn from the professionals how to expertly style a tabletop, bar and more for holiday entertaining. The stylists also will be providing free individual consultations regarding a own holiday or design project. Visit westelm.com.