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  • Writer's pictureHolly Rickard

How to achieve a bespoke look using off the shelf products

Updated: May 10, 2022

Design hacks
Design hacks to pull together a project quickly

With all the products available in the construction industry, one could get a little overwhelmed making the right choices!

If you have a small project that is a quick turn around, or low budget – these products should be your go to. Generally when looking for a good off the shelf product, use the following guidelines.

1. Stocked Item = No Lead time.

Not having to check stock with each supplier is a huge time saver for the designer, and also the builder, as they can order everything in one hit and start on-site immediately.

2. Versatility

Can several looks be achieved with this type of item? Is it durable, sustainable?

A product that ticks several boxes, and can work in many different styles of projects is gold.

3. Finish onsite

Products that can be cut and installed onsite save lead time and manufacturing costs. They might include: Timber, tiles, vinyl, carpet, acoustic panel, composite panels, metal mesh.

4. Installed with minimal skill & time

Eliminate the need for additional trades and specialist installers. The less trades involved, the less coordination and coordinating time onsite, the faster the job finishes. Use similar types of finishes for different applications to keep the trade types to a minimum.

Design Example Food Court
Design Example Food Court

Some examples fit in to all the above criteria.

Paint, specialty paint & other applied finishes.

Versatile –use textured or plain paint finishes on existing finishes, and or readily available substrates to achieve many different looks. These are available from a variety of places, and ready to mix to your colour/finish choice. Chances are you already need a painter for your project, so you’re not adding in any specialist applicators.

MDF, Plywood, board and trim products

Fibre cement, v groove paneling, 3D mdf wall panels, ply or chip board can all be pre finished or finished onsite. Select the type of finish to suit your project such as clear coat, paint, patina, with the gloss level of your choice. Add in a matching trim to dress up the panels.

Wall tiles or composite panels.

There are so many tile suppliers, and they all have similar basic ranges. Choose a standard size like 75mm x 100mm (subway) or 200mm x 200mm in common colours like black, white or grey – you can find these at almost every tile shop. Use some creativity in the pattern or add in a coloured grout from Mapei to spice up the look. For larger wall panels, shopfront cladding look at composite materials. Remember to always check with your certifier what fire and smoke ratings are required for wall linings for your particular project.

Metal Mesh

One of my favourites! There are many looks available in sheet form from truss forte and arrow metal. You can use this in joinery as a backing or door panel – over acoustic materials, as a screen, in a ceiling grid, as a vertical divider or incorporated in signage. It can be spray or hand painted to any colour you like.

Interior Design Flaylat B&W
Materials Flaylat B&W


Most suppliers will have quick ship items available in vinyl, tile, carpet, laminate, timber. Check the requirements for slip ratings, durability, warranty, fire, smoke ratings, and location suitability before you make a final selection.

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If you can design to standard sizes, you can use off the shelf carcasses, bench tops and door/drawer fronts. For tables and other furniture items, use readily available legs like hairpin legs, and assemble with a pre-made top onsite.

Can you spot the products we used at Pho Thu in Erina Fair?

Need a specific recommendation? Leave a comment or get in touch.

What are your favourite products?

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