The new-and-improved living room design.

I booked a consultation with Crate & Barrel’s Design Desk to revamp my living room.Crate & Barrel’s CEO credits the Design Desk with driving more business to the brand.I got personalized design help, product recommendations, and a 3D model of my space for free.

When I visited a Crate & Barrel store for the first time in March, I found the retailer excels at elevated home basics like whiteware dishes and furniture in polished neutrals.

I also learned about the Design Desk service offering free interior design consultations, which Crate & Barrel’s CEO, Janet Hayes, has credited with driving more business to the brand.

I decided to give the Design Desk a try to see why it’s been such a success for the company — and to help revamp my living space. I booked a virtual consultation with a designer on Crate & Barrel’s website.

Take a look at how the Design Desk reimagined my New York City apartment.

The Design Desk offers in-store, in-home, and virtual appointments with interior designers.
Crate & Barrel in New York City.

Crate & Barrel’s 23,000-square-foot flagship store in New York City opened in November. Crate & Barrel CEO Janet Hayes credited the store’s team of 30 designers, as well as Design Desk workstations on both floors, with the new location’s success.

Hayes told Business of Home in February that the flagship store books three times more design appointments and does 20% more business than the old SoHo location, which was 40% larger.

I booked a meeting with an interior designer to see how they could help me improve my living space.
The Design Desk at Crate & Barrel.

I recently moved into a new apartment with more space than my old one. I chose to have the interior designer help me with my foyer and living room since I’ve found them the most puzzling to furnish.

While I have basic pieces of living-room furniture — an entryway table, sectional couch, dining table, and bookshelves — parts of the room still feel blank. I hoped that an interior designer could advise me on how to lay out the floor plan, enhance the room with more decor, and perhaps add some more pieces of furniture.

The online booking form asked me questions about which rooms I wanted help with, as well as my color and design preferences.
A question on Crate & Barrel’s Design Desk booking form.

The form consisted of seven questions and only took a few minutes to fill out.

It also provided a space to share inspiration photos or link to a Pinterest board of images to help the designer get a sense of my taste.

Once a form is submitted, a Design Desk team interior designer reaches out to coordinate further.

Abbey Walker, the Crate & Barrel designer I was paired with, asked for lots of photos of my apartment from various angles.
The author’s foyer.

The entryway of my apartment features a console table, a bench that functions as a shoe rack, and a colorful rug that has seen better days.

The large foyer leads right into the sunken living room, a layout I’ve never been quite sure how to furnish.
The author’s living room viewed from the foyer.

I’ve seen some people with similar layouts use the foyer as a dining room, but that always seemed a bit too cramped for the dinner parties I like to host. I was eager for Walker’s professional opinion about how best to use the long space.

The living room features bookshelves, a TV, a sectional couch, an expandable dining table, and lots of empty space on the walls and floor.
The author’s living room.

I have a gallery wall of artwork from friends and family on the right side of the room, but the rest of the walls feel empty. With beige walls, a beige rug, and a beige couch, the room needs some more color, too.

Walker also requested measurements in order to create a three-dimensional model of the space and fill it with items from Crate & Barrel.
The measurements of the south wall of the living room.

I sent her a floor plan of my apartment that included the sizes of the foyer and living room, and measured out the placement of windows and doors on the walls so that she could create the 3D model.

For me, this was the most time-consuming part of the process — it took around two hours to put it all together. Measuring every corner of my apartment required balancing on a stepladder, wrangling a tape measure across large distances, and a good amount of math. I’d recommend having an extra set of hands to help you with this if you can.

After I sent everything in, Walker and I met for our virtual consultation.
Crate and Barrel interior designer Abbey Walker (left) in a consultation with the author.

She asked me to describe my design style and share more about how I use the space.

“I think it’s really important to view design not just as checking off things that you think you need within your space, but tuning in to how the client lives,” she said.

I told her that I like minimalistic designs with pops of color and quirky details, and that I wanted to optimize my entryway-living room combination for hosting to make it feel cozy and inviting.

She also asked about my favorite colors and if there were any colors I definitely didn’t want to see in the room. I’m not too picky about that — I actually prefer multicolored accent pieces instead of just picking one color to sprinkle throughout.

A few days later, the 3D rendering of my apartment appeared in my inbox. I couldn’t believe how amazing it looked and that I hadn’t paid a cent for it.
The new-and-improved living room design.

Walker kept my current sectional couch and TV, but replaced everything else with items from Crate & Barrel. She added a new wool and viscose area rug that retails for $5,299 and replaced my dark wood TV stand with a lighter burl wood media console that retails for $1,999.

She also added a Henning leather accent chair for $1,599 for more color and seating options, as well as new coffee tables, a faux fig leaf tree, multicolored throw pillows, curtains, and additional art on the walls to fill the empty space I’d highlighted to her.

She recommended swapping the positions of the bookshelves and dining table to open up the room.
The Design Desk’s rendering of the author’s living room.

“Moving your bookcases will create a separate living area space that is elevated and balanced,” she wrote in her Design Desk notes. “It will also open up the whole room to have the table pulled out when needed.”

She also recommended adding floating shelves near the table and a small gallery wall to the left of the TV. The shelves retail for $150 each, and the set of four picture frames for the gallery wall costs $239.80.

At $399 each, the white Petrie dining chairs she chose looked much nicer than my current ones, which I got for free from a neighborhood Facebook group.

In the virtual entryway, she replaced my small storage bench with a much larger one that also included hooks.
The reimagined entryway.

I’d been unsure about whether to use the foyer for dining or simply as an entryway. Walker helped settle the debate by saying I shouldn’t crowd the area too much.

“Keeping the entryway open and minimal will make it feel inviting,” she wrote.

The Batten brown oak storage bench and panel set, which offered hidden storage to conceal clutter, costs $1,711 from Crate & Barrel.

She also reimagined the entryway table as a canvas for pieces of decor and floral displays.
The entryway as envisioned by Crate & Barrel’s Design Desk.

Walker’s choice of a dark-blue rug for the high-traffic foyer area seemed more practical than my current one, which has turned gray over the years. The rug she included in the 3D floor plan retails for $1,599.

Altogether, the Crate & Barrel products chosen by the Design Desk for my apartment totaled $21,802.44.
The Crate & Barrel product list.

I’m not able to spend that much on redecorating my apartment at the moment, but I appreciated learning some of the design principles that informed my interior designer’s thought process. I was also grateful to finally get some answers to my design quandaries.

If I had wanted to buy anything from this list, I would have been able to work with an in-store Design Desk designer to look at the items in person and coordinate deliveries.

I can see why the Design Desk drives so much business for Crate & Barrel. On average, hiring an interior designer costs $100 per hour, with some charging up to $500 per hour, Forbes reported. While the price of the suggested product list was steep, getting personalized advice from the Design Desk was completely free.

One simple change I did make, inspired by the 3D model, was adding more art to the wall where my TV is.
The author’s living room with additional art.

I initially hadn’t put artwork next to the TV because I thought it would be too distracting, but I loved how the gallery wall frames in Walker’s design filled the blank space.

I hung two paintings by my grandmother, a prolific artist, and am thrilled with the way they look there.

Read the original article on Business Insider


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