A good designer always keeps current on the latest and greatest products, in addition to the tried-and-true ones. Yes, I have "fall-back" products that get used in project after project. These tend to be better quality items than you can get off-the-shelf at the Big Box stores, and they are products I have found to be functional, of good quality and affordable.
But then there are those certain projects that require something a bit more.
The list of unique items available to the customer "Through the Trade" goes on and on, from foundation to roof; from Specially honed stone to copper chimney caps; windows that truly ARE energy efficient with custom colors to specialty paints for a very unique look.
OH! Did I mention Process too?! Many professionals understand special techniques to get a look that is unlike any other. For example, did you know there is a product that can be put on wood prior to painting that will give an amazingly smooth finished look. You see it often in the pages of the glossy magazines, but you'd never know that this was a special process to make a door look more than, well, a door. It's all about POP!
The bottom line is that if you want a truly unique home, a professional has access to products that the general public does not. And keep in mind, a good professional will NOT blow your budget. He or she may offer options, but at the end of the day you call the shots.
Have a wonderful rest of the week dreaming!