If you're planning your own interior-design project (or even just a room refresh), chances are you've got tons of furniture bookmarked—but have you considered a custom piece? Made-to-order furniture may sound like the province of pros, but it's actually pretty straightforward when you're working with an expert like Sherrill Furniture.

It can also solve all kinds of design dilemmas, from fitting your furnishings to the scale of your space to creating a cohesive throughline of colors and textures. We tapped House Beautiful Next Wave designers DuVäl Reynolds of DuVäl Design and Sherrell Neal of Sherrell Design Studio for their advice on approaching the process.

raquel long sofa from the precedent collection
Raquel Long Sofa from the Precedent Collection

Inspiration Can Come From Anywhere

Obsessed with the color of a scarf you picked up on vacation? Want to create a sofa inspired by your favorite film? Custom offerings like the Sherrill Furniture 9600/9700 Design Your Own Custom Program allow you to bring highly personal mood boards and references to life—rather than being limited to a brand's preselected offerings.

"A great benefit is that the design inspiration does not have to start with the piece. We can be inspired by wallpaper, art, or travel," says Reynolds. "Customization grants the freedom to select textures and colors that enhance our inspiration."

Of course, you also want to avoid choice paralysis. "Instinctively, we rush to view all options," he says. "Instead, opt for colors and tones that align with the design, rather than solely basing it on personal preferences. And consider taking calculated risks with only one or two elements of the custom item—not every piece should be overly prominent."

the turin cocktail table from mr and mrs howard
The Turin Cocktail Table from Mr. and Mrs. Howard

Custom Covers a Lot of Ground

The Sherrill Furniture 9600/9700 Design Your Own Custom Program lets you choose everything from the frame shape, dimensions, and fabric of your ideal seating to smaller details like seam stitching, arm style, and leg shape. The Mr. and Mrs. Howard collection features a wide array of custom wood finishes, and in the case of Hickory White, designs from simple to elaborate can be hand-applied in anything from a faux-bois pattern to a rustic Greek-key design.

To maximize your design potential, Neal recommends envisioning what the finished piece will look like first. "A drawing or sketch with the customization details avoids mistakes," Neal says. "Also, understand the parameters from the supplier, because there is custom and then semi-custom: You may be able to change the finish, but not the size."

hickory white
hickory white

Custom Can Be a Real Problem-Solver

When you're building your room around a particular sofa or bed frame, it can throw things into chaos if it's discontinued or indefinitely delayed. Reynolds says he often finds himself turning to custom when ready-made products are unavailable. On the other hand, he notes that it's also an ideal solution when a client wants something "uniquely theirs" that they won't see anywhere else. Working with a supplier that offers customization of specific elements, such as Hickory White with its Eye Candy custom hardware and custom finish programs, means you have hundreds of combinations to choose from.

There's also the question of space. "With constraints, or the need to fill a larger room, a custom piece may make most sense," says Reynolds. Instead of leaving a too-small sofa floating in a giant great room, you can merge a sofa from the 9600/9700 Design Your Own Custom Program or Precedent Classic Suite Retreat into a larger sectional that's more proportional. Or for a small children's room, a Nocturne custom twin bed can work for the space while still feeling intentional and special.

angelina series from the precedent collection
Angelina Series from the Precedent Collection

Custom Can Balance Trends and Timelessness

In a room that features vintage or heirloom furniture, a brand-new piece thrown into the mix can feel jarring. Instead, designers like Neal look for custom options to re-create that timeless character. "In a current project, I specified a case-good piece from the Sherrill Occasional line, and we're having a hand-applied striping decoration added, so it feels as aged and collected as an antique piece in the same space," she says.

Conversely, custom can also be a great way to capture modern or niche fads in interior design that may not be widely available—or not yet in store floor collections, Reynolds points out. Trends he's keeping an eye out for include English countryside elements: "I'm enjoying the British invasion of nature-inspired color palettes alongside floral patterns and details."

hickory white
Hickory White

Finishes Can Make New Feel Heirloom

Neal likes to use these to make beloved but often-used silhouettes feel fresh. "I have a soft spot for the Mr. & Mrs. Howard line, and specified the Bambu bed for a project," she says. "We chose a rich brown wood finish called Modern Walnut, designed to live between two chests in a Seaglass finish that are also from the line." That flexibility makes the job of an interior designer—or DIY decorator—easier: You can place a single order for a room's worth of furniture that will all have the same high quality, and it will still feel as if they were slowly collected over time.

"I really love the Sherrill family of brands, and how each one offers something distinctive in either style or customization," Neal says. "With the array of finishes and customization options on offer, each project can be well-tailored but unique."