is bespoke interior design advice worth the trouble?

Thanks to social media, our interior has become a kind of business card to which we devote more and more time and money. Furniture brands are also aware of this, and hire interior designers to advise their customers. Is it really necessary or rather redundant? Knack Weekend visited Fest and Ikea’s interior service.

Assuming you’ve managed to buy your own place and possibly renovate it, hooray. Now it’s time for the final step, the interior design. You want an interior that looks like it was plucked straight from Pinterest, but with a personal touch touch. The problem? You have no idea how to get started. Words like Japandi or ring a bell somewhere. But there are many practical objections between your interior dream and the actual living room. Small budget, time or knowledge, just to name a few.

For these very reasons, more and more furniture brands collaborate with an interior designer, who helps customers with advice on the color of the walls, the fabric of the seat or the design of a bedroom wardrobe. Is that advice helpful in figuring out what you want? Or is it primarily a practical trick to sell more products to customers? Knack Weekend visited the Swedish furniture giant Ikea’s interior service and the Dutch brand Fest.


The furniture chain in Amsterdam wants to make design affordable. You may recognize the brand from the colorful, round coffee tables, the robust seats or playful interior accessories.

Fest’s first proposal with a straight seat
What do they offer?

Free interior design consultation resulting in a 3D plan and a product list.

How does it work?

I give the interior designer a floor plan beforehand and I fill in what I like and what I need via a short quiz. The appointment itself takes one hour and can be ordered online or in store. I visit the Ghent branch and it’s a good choice: you can’t mark materials or trial sites online. I get a tour of the store, where interior expert Femke De Gans asks lots of questions and makes me think about what I like and why. ‘You can see me as a kind of sparring partner,’ she says. ‘I try to listen very carefully to what you want and at the same time pull you out of your comfort zone.’

After the tour, we install ourselves in front of a computer and buy her designs together. She explains what she did and why. Then I can make comments and ask questions: why did you choose this format? What colors would you recommend for the seat? Could you perhaps add an extra side table? We puzzle together until we come up with two designs that I have a hard time choosing between. I also get advice on color combinations (“No, neutrals don’t have to be boring”) and fabrics that can withstand eager cat paws. The two designs are sent to me digitally along with a product list. The advice is free and without obligation, I don’t receive follow-up emails to find out why I still haven’t bought anything.

Fest’s second proposal
Was this advice helpful?

I’ve been pretty obsessed with my interior for the past few months due to a major renovation project. I also know the brand pretty well, so I was very curious about the insight I would get out of this. I wasn’t necessarily pulled out of my comfort zone, but I learned things. That making a mood board alone is not enough, e.g. No, you also have to dare to look at it critically and look for the greatest common denominators in the various photos. Femke also tells me that many people tend to start decorating randomly. She admits that the chance of a clutter-free living room is greater if you first think about the bigger picture. In this way, you avoid both impulse purchases and chaos. Two personal risk factors, like my mother.

It is also striking that Femke explicitly advises me not to buy everything from one brand: ‘people quickly resort to sets that go together. A coffee table and a TV cabinet in the same wood, e.g. It quickly gets boring, because little happens. You risk that your living room will look like a hotel lobby. Instead, choose pieces from different brands, possibly in combination with second-hand goods or souvenirs. That way you get an interior with personality.’

In addition to general tips, she also gives her honest opinion on the dilemmas that I still have to deal with. Such expert advice provides peace of mind and confidence, especially for those trying to set something up on their own. The plans she makes are also very helpful in visualizing the furniture in my room concretely.

Who is this service useful for?

For eternal doubters who lack confidence or spatial insight. It feels good to get a substantiated opinion from an expert on certain choices, even if you ultimately have to make the decisions yourself.

More info about this service via


Needs a little introduction. Swedish furniture chain known for its affordable, no-nonsense furniture for the whole house.

Top view of my potential interior
What do they offer?

Ikea has various services, from basic advice on a specific issue to a complete furnishing. The price varies from 29 to 290 euros. I am testing the advice on room decoration to the value of 174 euros. For that price I get an appointment, but also a 3D design, a mood board, a lighting plan, a product list and design tips.

How does it work?

I am called in advance by the interior designer to hear what my specific question is. Afterwards, I receive a questionnaire on which I can pass on my inner dreams, sources of inspiration and needs. Here, too, you can sign up for an appointment in the store or an online meeting. Because I have to wait weeks for the first option, I choose online counseling.

Via a split screen, we review the mood board that forms the basis of my design. I am pleased to see that the interior designer understands my ideas very well and is completely on the same wavelength in terms of colors and materials, which is promising. You will also notice that in preparation for our hiring, she has already thought very carefully about the design and that she has invested enough time in it. This has advantages and disadvantages: on the one hand it is practical, on the other hand it invites less reflection. More is based on an idea, rather than the idea being created together, as is the case with Fest.

Then we arrive at the precise layout of the room, which has been completed in much more detail from Fest. This is not illogical, because the range in the Ikea catalog is also much more extensive.

The different perspectives of my living room
Was this advice helpful?

Yes, especially if you get lost in space like me. My living room is square, so I am confused about the layout and placement of the seats. The 3D plan provides a top, front and side view, giving you a really good idea of ​​how your room could look. The plan is also very detailed, from furniture to lighting to plants. Thanks to the accompanying mood board, you also get inspiration for items that you would like to replace with something else, possibly from another brand.

The ‘bespoke’ desk is a revelation to me: I could never have come up with that myself. It’s nice to finish with such a concrete plan, although of course here too you make all the choices yourself in the end. After the advice, there are no pushy emails urging a purchase, which is also nice. Especially if, like me, you like to let interior ideas mature.

You get this kind of tips in different sliders
Who is this service useful for?

Because this is such specific and comprehensive advice, I’m inclined to say: for potentially everyone. If you have no idea where to start, it’s nice to make an appointment like this before you step into a brick-and-mortar Ikea branch (or any other furniture store) because you’ll immediately have an idea of ​​what you need . Pinterest ideas can be translated into a coherent interior. If you want to save a lot of time, you can just follow the plan, but it’s even more fun to use this as a starting point and then think further about what you want to add or leave out, just to avoid living in an Ikea catalogue.

Where Fest’s advice is inspiring and extends a little wider, you step out of Ikea with a concrete manual and a detailed visual plan. So this is just what you are looking for.

More info about this service via

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