How “Smalls” Interior Design is Changing the Way We Look at Home Decorating

Let’s say you’ve just built a new custom home. You’re likely faced with a massive, empty and colorless space that you need to fill. It’s not unusual at this point to call in an interior designer to choose colors, flooring, curtains and furniture. But would you also let them choose every vase, book, statuette and painting in your home?

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, some affluent homeowners are beginning to do just that.

Though most people who hire interior designers understand that they’ll select furniture, custom details and other decorative touches, few realize that they’ll select your little table and shelf tchotchkes as well, if given free reign.

The trend has attracted some backlash from people who believe that personal touches should be just that: personal. In an interior-designed home, they argue, you could end up with abstract paintings and books you’ll never read instead of your heirloom pottery and photos from family.

But supporters of the trend argue that decorating a home takes a massive amount of time and work, and the new items usually supplement the client’s existing decorations instead of replacing them. Many people end up handing over the task of decorating just because they don’t know where to begin.

“As a custom home builder, we have customers visit our local Design Centers when they build a house with us,” says Erik Cocks, Marketing at Arthur Rutenberg Homes. “They pick out all their home details and colors with the help of professional designers. Because our designers learn all about the customers’ likes and taste they can easily go on to help customers choose furniture, artwork and even accessories down to lamps and throw rugs. This often allows customers to move right into their ‘home’ that is very personal for them.”

Interior designers call home decoration items like trash cans, figurines and ornaments “smalls.” Smalls help create intimacy in a space and add a tactile element to an otherwise distant room.

Designers are reporting more and more requests for smalls selection from clients who are moving into a new home — especially if that home is larger than the previous residence. Others just want a new beginning in a modern and well-decorated home, and some don’t trust their own taste.

Often, it comes down to the time and footwork that goes into hunting down smalls. A homeowner could go through 10 home decor shops and still not find the right napkin rings, and many just don’t have the stamina.

Homeowners will likely never agree on whether or not letting an interior designer pick out your cloth napkins or throw pillows is the right thing to do, but plenty of people seem happy that the service is available.

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