People all over the country are spending more time in their homes than ever before right now—and many are realizing that their spaces could use a refresh or an all-out redo. Thanks to tech-savvy designers, interior greatness can be achieved virtually.
Gina Sims, an Atlanta-based designer, is one of many interior designers offering virtual design services to help clients get the spaces they want while honoring social distancing. She’s offered her virtual service, called eDesign, for years, but is experiencing increased demand since people have been home with more time to stare at their walls. Some designers, like Carmeon Hamilton of Memphis-based Nubi Interiors, have used this as an opportunity to shift from in-person only design to providing digital offerings and services. "The coronavirus was the confirmation I needed,” she tells House Beautiful. And if mroe time at home has taught us anything, it's the importance of living in a space you love. Here’s what to know before taking the plunge into digital design services.
Digital design services are more affordable than full-service design, but more legwork for the homeowner
Sandra Funk of New York-based House of Funk has offered a digital design service for three years. Her program entails the client sending her pictures of the room as well as the dimensions. In return, the client gets a fully-executed design with a link to recommended products for them to purchase. By contrast, when she and her team provide full-service design, they handle everything from project management to purchasing to installation. “When we take on all of that work and liability, we obviously get paid for it. So that's the big difference. Paying someone else to execute versus doing it yourself,” says Funk.
Brittany Tompkins of MP James in Southern California says, “The perfect client for this is someone who is on a budget and also doesn’t mind placing the orders, doesn’t mind assembling the furniture themselves, but just really needs help on what they should put in their space and what looks good and where to shop.” If you’re okay assembling furniture and sourcing items yourself, then you’re golden.
Working with a designer, even virtually, can be more personal than using design services
It’s understandable why homeowners would want to use virtual design companies like Modsy and Havenly, companies that also make design suggestions based on photos of your room. Their pricing is affordable, with plans starting at just $89. But, then you’d lose the personal touch of a designer that works with you from start to finish. Even when working with a designer virtually, you can forge a connection and have your voice heard.
Many designers are using video conferencing for design consultations. Sara Noble of Noble Designs in Kansas City is a Zoom devotee when it comes to working with virtual clients. “With Zoom, it’s so easy to have eye-to-eye contact while you’re doing a conference call and able to see body language and understand more clearly what the person is saying,” she says. It also gives her a chance to show clients the exact items she’s talking about through Zoom’s screen share.
For the best digital experience possible, be careful with your measurements and photos
Since designers can’t get into clients’ homes to take measurements themselves, they heavily rely on the client to take good measurements. Funk says, “It’s a skill set that designers learn early on in their career and they learn to be crazy thorough. But it’s hard to translate that to someone who isn’t an engineer or an architect or designer.”
To get the dimensions right, Funk suggests taking overall measurements first and drawing your room as best as you can. Then, build in the smaller dimensions and make sure that when you add those up they equal your overall dimensions.
Taking photos is easier, but still a process. The goal is to give the designer photos of each of the room’s angles. Noble suggests standing in one corner and shooting around the room, trying to capture the same corner twice so that you can piece the room together. “You’re making a panoramic view, and we can piece it together," says Noble.
There’s a designer for every budget
While these online services are more affordable than going all-out, the price tag may still give you sticker shock. But there truly is a designer for every budget, so take your time and shop around. Even among the designers we spoke with, there’s quite a range of prices and services: Tompkins’s packages start at $350, Sims’s eDesign services start at $675 for small rooms, and Funk charges a flat rate of $2,500.
When choosing a designer’s virtual plan keep in mind your goal — are you looking to make tweaks or do you want a complete overhaul? — and remember that good design is an investment. And keep Hamilton’s words in mind, “I wholeheartedly believe that right now while people are mandated to be home now is as of important of a time as ever that people are living in spaces that they love to be in.” Now that's something worth investing in.
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