This Designer Has a Foolproof Solution for Sourcing Samples

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Tools of the Trade material bank website.

Material Bank / Illustration: The Spruce

The world of home decor is vast, and we’re constantly amazed by the designers, creators, and creatives who cross our paths. In an effort to learn more about the innovative eyes behind the scenes, we’ve launched a series that explores the sanity-saving tools, products, and services that keep our favorite designers and decorators focused on the job at hand. Welcome to Tools of the Trade.

Recently, we connected with Christine Turknett Ho, the founder and principal designer of the Austin, TX-based Breathe Design Studio, on what service makes her life as a designer that much easier. Her studio focuses on thoughtful, simple spaces, with a “design aesthetic rooted in warm modernism and draws from the Danish approach of creating clean, calm, and cozy spaces.”

What service made your work life easier this week/month/lately?

Christine Turknett Ho: I am obsessed with Material Bank. It’s a website specifically for the trades where you can order samples and you’ll receive them overnight for free.

Material Bank Sample Sourcing Website

CTH: Previously, we had to go to showrooms to borrow them or paint our own boards with double coats overnight. Now, we have them in our internal library and can lend them as often as we need to clients.

Why is this service so great?

CTH: The turnaround is so quick, and the inventory is huge—I especially love Material Bank for paint samples. After placing an order, within 24 hours you have samples. They are already painted and large enough so you can really get a sense of the color (they're full size sheets) so you and your clients can tape them to the wall and move around to see how it looks in different times of day with different lighting.

Where/how do you use this service most?

CTH: I use it most with paint and fabric. They individually vacuum seal tile and countertops samples that you can’t get in a basic sample kit. It helped me expand my options for clients—I learned there are an incredible amount of marble veining options for Caesarstone with different tones.

How did you discover this service?

CTH: Through a direct mail piece, actually!

Will you use this service in the future?

CTH: Yes, absolutely.

How has this service made your job easier?

CTH: Having samples in hand so quickly helps my clients feel more confident in choosing samples. Especially when so much is done digitally, the color or feel of something can be somewhat deceiving if you’re not able to see it in person, so being able to ship samples directly to my client's home is so valuable.

What, if anything, would you change about this service?

CTH: Honestly nothing, it is amazing! They ship things out so quickly, their inventory is very up to date. I use it constantly.

Are there any care/use tips someone considering this service should know about?

CTH: If you’re ordering a lot of samples, give it about 48 hours for delivery, but most things arrive within 24 hours. For context, we’ve ordered 20 countertop samples and possibly 150 paint boards that arrived within that timeframe of 48 hours. 

We have to admit: any industry trick that has us able to create a design plan while still wearing our pajamas is an instant win.