Pretty much every type of service is online these days, including home decorating. Once the province of professionals who walked into your home or future home and advised you on the layout, flow and decor of the room, interior decorating has gone virtual: companies such as Decorist, Havenly and Modsy offer advice and recommendations with no physical meetings or sight of your space in sight.
Their existence makes access to an experienced interior designer easier and cheaper than ever. But how can a traditional in-person service work remotely? And what do you really get for the money?
How do online interior design services work?
Some interior design services are run by freelance companies or online businesses. Others are owned by furniture companies and retailers like Wayfair. Still others are run by individual interior designers who contract their services on a freelance basis (and work both in person and virtually).
The online design process
Working with an online interior design service starts with sharing your goals for your space, your design tastes, and your budget. Most companies offer a series of photos that you can choose from to give an idea of your style. some companies also require you to upload inspiration photos (parts from catalogs or another source you like). With small businesses and freelance designers, you can directly communicate directly with a real person. With larger interior design companies, you may have to go through a series of quizzes or automated questionnaires before being assigned to a designer.
Once you’ve selected the type of room you’re working on, you need to do some homework: take and upload measurements, photos, and sketches of your space. Gathering these dimensions can be a bit expensive. In a post detailing her experience with Modsy, Lela Burris, author of the Organized-ish blog, describes her efforts to create a 3D model for the company: “It’s hard to walk the perimeter of a room with the phone facing the center as I climb onto beds and chairs and go around cat trees. Eventually either I got it right or the app felt sorry for me because it said I could quit.
Then comes the active design phase: your in-house designer recommends personalized ideas and inspirations, offers suggestions on furniture, decoration and even how to arrange each element. You are usually entitled to a set number of sessions and/or concepts, and you can work together via email, phone or videoconference.
Some companies, like Havenly, offer a 3D preview of what your home will look like with your chosen decor; some, like Modsy, even let you play with the 3D software itself, changing colors and furniture and their placement.
Once the final selections are made, you can order the furniture directly from the designer and it is shipped to your home.
How much do online interior design services cost?
Although some online interior design services charge an hourly rate (as traditional in-person designers tend to do), most bundle their services into flat-rate packages. Ranging from $99 to $1,300, these plans are tier-based, and the more included the plan, the higher the price.
For example, Modsy offers three packages. The basic one costs $179/piece and is suggested for simple projects. It includes one-piece 3D rendering and unlimited design revisions. The next package starts at $299 and is recommended for two or more rooms. The best Luxe plan starts at $499 and offers unlimited video calls with the company’s most senior designers, as well as discounts on furniture purchases.
For a few dollars more, some companies, like Havenly and Decorilla, even offer in-person consultations in select cities.
Benefits of online interior design services
Choosing an online interior designer offers certain advantages.
Although exact comparisons can be difficult, due to the different pricing methods, you can save a lot of money with an online designer. In-person designers can charge up to $200 per hour or $2,000 per part (or more); Virtual Designer package rates tend to be much lower and they often offer discounts for additional rooms.
The virtual process allows you to connect easily and quickly – no need to juggle schedules or figure out a time when you can both be at the host site. Most services also work quickly, delivering designs in days or weeks; an in-demand individual designer could be booked for months.
These services make interior design accessible to people living in remote areas or places where a good choice of experienced designers may be very limited. And if you’re unhappy with your matched designer, many services will assign you a new one; no need to start looking for a new pro.
One stop shop
There’s no obligation to purchase, but if you like the furniture they choose, it’s easy to order from the service.
Disadvantages of online interior design services
An online interior designer can be a great option for some, but there are a few downsides to consider.
Some might say there is no substitute for an interior designer who stands in your home and sees your space, enjoying the view, the light, the flow and the “feel” of the rooms. . Or, once you get to work, for a professional measuring and mapping and calculating dimensions. Scrambling around clients have to do, taking pictures and sketching – shouldn’t that be part of the designer’s job? What if you miscalculate?
Although some online designer packages promise unlimited consultations or revisions, most are limited and companies hold you tight to their parameters (three design concepts, two lectures, etc.). Additionally, some online services do not work with unbuilt spaces or advise on the layout of pipes, wiring or HVAC – functions that interior designers are traditionally trained in and that set them apart from interior decorators, who only furnish the rooms.
Too cozy relationships
Most sites don’t require you to purchase furniture directly from them. (If so, let your fingers wander – to another service.) But there can be a hard sell – yes, the designer is paid by commission, in many cases – and in cases where the service is owned at a furniture retailer, you might wonder about the options provided.
The Last Word on Online Interior Design Services
To some, online interior design services can feel like decorators trying to sell you things. Admittedly, their services are more limited than those of traditional interior designers, which mitigates the value of their lower prices. Still, an online service can be a convenient option for those looking for help with their bedroom furnishings without a lot of time or money. Even if you have an eye for decorating, it never hurts to get advice and ideas from a pro.