As an interior designer, I am always interested in objects and how they look and feel. The advent of online shopping has brought so many of these products to us with the touch of a “key” on a computer. This Is wonderful for research purposes, cross references and easy shopping. But it doesn’t always allow you to visualize what the product looks like in reality.
Many of our clients have issues with scale and color, both of which are not easy to navigate online. There are also quality issues to contend with. So many products look fantastic in a photograph, but if the price is so good as not to be believed, 99% of the time the quality of the piece is also compromised. As a general rule, I rarely pay attention to any reviews if they are given. A shopper myself, I like to be able to touch the object I am purchasing to see if it looks and feels like something I want to wear or put into my home. I want to know where the piece was made and have my questions answered by a knowledgeable salesperson. I want to enjoy the experience of shopping.
Over the years, as online shopping has become more prevalent, especially during the pandemic, many brick-and-mortar stores have closed. Sadly, many communities’ commercial districts have been heavily hit and blighted by empty storefronts. Or stores have survived with skeletal crews — and even scarcer merchandise, due to Covid-related supply-chain issues — reinforcing the convenience of online purchasing.
Lately, though, I am seeing more small shops popping up, many of which have a distinct highly curated point of view. Gift, accessories and furniture store combinations are cropping up in many municipalities again — the home furniture and accessories company Arhaus just opened a store at The Westchester in White Plains — and are wonderful additions. I am even seeing vintage stores making a comeback. A fun trip to browse these shops can yield many wonderful finds for my clients. Since many of these stores are highly curated, a trip with a client can be useful. The client can see the pieces in person, with many of the items available for immediate purchase. Often you can take pieces out on approval, which takes the guess work out of “how will it look in my house”?
As a designer, I love to combine both new and vintage items in my work. Those special pieces added to your home create a more custom-curated look. Seeing them in person enables you to evaluate their texture and size as well as true colors. Often shops combine different colors of items and this allows you to visualize different color combinations, perhaps combinations you have not thought of. This can also make you comfortable with bringing colors, patterns and blends of both colors and patterns into your home once you have been able to see them in person.
Color is having a comeback in interior design. Gray, beige and white are falling out of favor and earthy rusts, deep cocoa and greens are having their moment. If you are still timid about using color, an easy purchase would be a throw, vase or some pillows in some of these newer colors. Color, of course, doesn’t have to be limited to the “colors of the moment.” Your favorite colors can also be used in your interiors.
I always suggest clients look for accessories and artwork when they are on vacation. You are more relaxed then and open to ideas that you may not be when you are working or going about your daily routines.
Among the added bonuses are the memories that are created when you bring these pieces home and remember where you were when you purchased them. I always suggest clients purchase artwork they love. Art is deeply personal and should only please you (and your significant other if you have one). I often look at an area that I want to purchase a piece of art for and have a rough idea of the size I am looking for. Then I consider if I am looking for a painting, a print, a photograph. If it’s a painting, will it be framed or unframed for a more casual look?
If it sounds as if I’m invested in in-person shopping, well, I am and have become more so. I have extended my interior design practice with a brick-and-mortar space in East Hampton. This will give me the opportunity to be both closer to many of my clients and to showcase carefully curated pieces of art to a wider audience. In time we are looking to add other interesting and unique pieces. We are open by appointment or by chance and look forward to seeing our many friends and clients who both live and vacation in the Hamptons. And, of course, we are delighted to meet new friends who enjoy interior design, decorating — and shopping — as much as we do.
Cami Weinstein Designs LLC is at 8 Main St. in East Hampton. For more, call 914-447-6904 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.