Interior designers are trained to keep their eyes peeled for aesthetically pleasing furnishings, decorative accents, and art pieces. But an innate ability to find diamonds in the rough can mean that pros are frequently confronted with a key decision—storing furniture for a potential future project or moving on and leave a score behind.
How often do designers go the storage route, and what crosses their minds in the process? Speaking to six interior design experts, we parsed through three different approaches.
Always, no doubt about it
A storage unit is “imperative” for Atlanta designer Nishi Donovan. “This gives me the freedom to purchase one-of-a-kind items when I’m traveling or at local markets,” she explains. Donovan logs her inventory on a secret Pinterest board that features photographs of each of her items as well as their dimensions. This allows her to seamlessly integrate pieces into future projects. Designer Phyllis Lui of Kalu Interiors in Vancouver agrees that such a system is key for storing furniture. “Out of sight, out of mind happens a lot of the time, so it can get hard to keep track of everything,” Lui says. “You need to really know what you have so that you don’t become a hoarder with boxes of unused items and furniture.” Her colleague Aleem Kassam added, “Personally, I keep a Dropbox folder of pictures of items I’ve sourced and purchased so I have a running log of these items for memory—which as a rule of thumb I always upload on the spot so I don’t lose track.”
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While not every find lands in its forever home immediately, Donovan still finds keeping a stockpile of artwork, accessories, and furniture to be extremely worthwhile. “As much as I love the innovation of new products, I believe antiques carry energy and a story we connect with on a higher level,” she says. “It may take years to sell a single piece, but the overall cost outweighs the rent as long as you are utilizing the unit for many things.”
Designer Nicole Cole of Vestige Home in Philadelphia elaborates on this concept. “Sometimes I find that I may not use each and every piece stored, but you can always pass it along to someone else who will love it,” she says. “Leaving a little room for ‘inefficiency’ is critical in the creative process and delivers a level of design that only comes with incorporating one-of-a-kind finds.”
Sometimes, depending on the item
San Francisco designer Clara Jung of Banner Day Interiors utilizes storage more sparingly. “There are a number of extremely versatile smaller items such as mirrors, side tables, and accent chairs that are nice to have on hand as an easy add to a variety of different spaces,” she says. However, when it comes to sizable finds such as sofas or dining tables, Jung is less inclined to go the storage route, adding, “storing upholstered pieces generally is less than ideal, as it’s hard to protect the fabric from dust, age, and general conditions.” Especially for designers in high cost-of-living areas, storage costs can rack up quickly. Rental company CubeSmart charges $619 for a 10-foot-by-10-foot unit in midtown Manhattan and $408 for the same setup in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, in downtown St. Louis, a unit of the same size runs for just $88 a month.
Rarely, for a variety of reasons
Elizabeth Stamos, a designer in Chicago whose firm completes six to eight projects a year, finds that storing furniture just doesn’t make sense. “For us each project is really specific to each client,” she says. “Tastes and styles vary, so it’s hard to know when something is purchased whether or not it will get used.” Incorporating pieces from clients’ past homes into their new spaces is already tricky enough, Stamos says. Pricing is also a concern. “Furniture depreciates the moment you buy it; unless it’s a special antique, it’s just so tricky,” she says. “If I ever try to sell something that hasn’t worked out before, I can never price it for what we bought it for—people always want a deal.”