The secret to making your house truly feel like your home is choosing decor that reflects your style. While finding accessories that capture your personality is easy, furniture presents a bigger design challenge. It’s all too common to come across a piece that would be perfect, if only the color was slightly different, or it came in a different texture or pattern.
When you know what you want—but you just can’t find it, the solution is to go custom. The good news is, you don’t have to be a designer—or even hire one—to have that option. Universal Furniture, an online showroom which offers a stunning range of furnishings for nearly every room, has made it possible to put your spin on upholstered pieces by choosing your favorite fabric through their Special Order collection.
Once you’ve seen how satisfying it is to create your own unique design, you may want to make your interiors feel more “custom” in other ways as well. We asked Ashley Grech of the Bay Area-based Thirteen Oak Interior Design for her tips and tricks on how to do just that. Here’s her advice on creating furniture and interiors that fit your home perfectly.
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Get to know the terminology
According to Grech, customization generally refers to “unique work on categories such as cabinetry, textiles, drapery, furniture, and tile” with a further breakdown into ‘hard goods’ and ‘soft goods.’
Hard goods include cabinets, tile work, larger furniture pieces, and cabinets, while the term “soft goods” encompasses drapery and other textiles including rugs, wallpaper, or pillows. If you’re not sure where to start, think about doing one small project from each category: New pillows for the couch, say, and maybe a small console table for your foyer.
If you’re eager to try out customization, Universal Furniture’s Brentwood ottoman is an ideal first piece—it’s relatively small, so you can play with colors and textures as you define your own taste.
Ask for help if you need it
Having trouble narrowing down the choices between too many options? Thats OK—and more common than you may think! If you’re planning to commit to a more serious redesign, working with an interior designer is a great way to get a new perspective on the different decor directions to explore.
“No one needs to be boxed into a single specific style, so we do our best to help our clients find their unique style through visuals,” Grech says. To prep for your first meeting with a designer and guide the discussion, have a list of what you like and dislike ready for reference. Try clicking through different colors and patterns, like the more than 400 options available for the Manhattan sofa, and notice which ones jump out at you.
If it’s not in your budget to completely redecorate an entire room, Grech suggests focusing on customizing large furniture which will last a long time. When you invest in tailoring a sofa to your exact specifications, it can make the surrounding decor feel more elevated and personal. Universal Furniture takes sofa customization one step further by offering options for plushness level and accent pillows.
Look to existing options to accent custom pieces
Consider ready-to-buy accent pieces that have an unexpected element, which gives them a more “custom” feel, especially when paired with a customized piece. The Opaline Martini table (from Universal Furniture’s new collection with supermodel Miranda Kerr) has a dramatic dodecahedron silhouette, but the finish is neutral enough to work in any space.
The Allure vanity desk, also from Universal Furniture’s Miranda Kerr Home collection, is equally striking yet versatile. The desk’s streamlined shape looks at home with a variety of decor styles, while details like the faux leather and glass inset top, mother of pearl hardware and gleaming gold legs add distinctive character.
Letting an existing piece serve as an anchor in your space is a fantastic way to get inspired, too. For example, choosing the same wood or metal finish found in your table for the legs of your comfortable chairs will instantly tie the room together.
Enjoy the process
There’s no way around it: Customization takes time. “Any custom work goes through a series of revisions before it’s perfected,” says Grech. “It’s definitely not a quick fix option.” The goal with custom furniture customization is to wind up with items you’ll love forever, so spending a few extra weeks or months at the outset is worth it to get the sofa, headboard, or sideboard you envision exactly right.