Not to brag, but I consider myself to be a decent decorator. After all, my college degree is in fashion merchandising and design, so I’ve even taken a few interior design classes!
You'd find that hard to believe if you saw my bedroom. My boyfriend recently moved in, and in my sporadic attempts to make the decor less feminine, I've ended up with complete "designer's block." It doesn’t help that the room is awkwardly shaped—a thin rectangle with super-high ceilings—and gets virtually no natural light.
Then, as though the internet could sense my frustration, YouTube sent me an ad for an online interior design service. What's that, you ask? I had the exact same question! So I did some quick research, and discovered there are actually a number of companies that offer virtual design services. Essentially, they let you work with design professionals remotely to come up with decor ideas and product recommendations. Some even create 3D models of your space!
Because I don’t have the funds to hire an in-person interior designer, I was super excited to learn that these online services are affordable. Naturally, my thoughts turned to my boring bedroom—here’s what happened when I put two of the more popular services on the job to turn it around.
Havenly offers a Pinterest-esque online design service, and they have three different service tiers. There’s a $19 consult, a $79 mini makeover, or a full design for $169. I opted for a full design, which includes 1-on-1 conversations with a personal designer, three initial ideas, and a finalized design concept with multiple revisions—as well as a layout visualization, and a custom floor plan.
To get started, you take a style quiz where you select rooms you like, and they assign you a design category. Mine was "mid-century with a touch of farmhouse," which wasn’t exactly accurate but interesting enough to try out. You also fill out a room profile, set a budget, upload a floor plan and images, and do fun stuff like rate fabric swatches and patterns.
They recommend a designer for you based off the results, but you can choose any designer from their roster. I ended up selecting someone whose style I liked and who could start the same week (some are booked out for months), and within a few days, she sent over inspiration boards and potential products for me to rate.
We worked together to refine the style and product selection, and I was even able to suggest products for her to incorporate into the final design.
The end result was a more chic, cohesive version of my existing decor—we kept my bed frame, side tables, and overall color scheme the same. I did like the suggested lamps and artwork though, and love the idea of using a bookcase in the awkward wasted space next to the closet door.
I think I’ll end up pulling individual ideas I love—for instance, you can purchase just one or two of the suggested items, if you want—rather than going with the whole concept. If I had to do it again, I might ask the designer to stray even further from my existing decor to give it a completely different look.
Modsy is arguably one of the better-known online design companies, and the main differentiator is that they include a 3D rendering of your room. There are three price points to choose from: the classic package is $49 and includes two draft designs and two rounds of updates with a designer; the premium package is $129 and gets you two draft designs and unlimited updates—I went with this one.
To get started, I had to upload pictures of my bedroom from every angle. Like with Havenly, Modsy also has you take a style quiz before you start—they show you pictures of rooms and specific products, and you select what you like. The quiz categorized my tastes as “rustic warmth.”
Next step: You can select what furniture pieces you want to keep, as well as how much you’re willing to spend on each one. I also asked that they use my existing bed frame, as it’s relatively new.
Modsy doesn’t let you select your own designer, and it takes a little longer to get your results. However, when I did receive my renderings, I was impressed. Not only was the 3D model of my bedroom totally accurate, but they gave me two great design options to choose from.
I liked the aesthetic of the first option—I really vibed with the lamp and photo ledge—but the layout wouldn’t work for us since the bed was pushed up against the wall.
However, I loved almost everything about the second design. They rearranged the layout of the room so the bed was on the longer wall—something I hadn't even thought about doing. I also love that the furniture and accents are “me” but not so girly that my boyfriend would roll his eyes.
One of the great things about Modsy is you can very easily swap out objects to see how other products would look. For instance, I wasn’t totally sold on the gold trim of the mirror or the photo above the bed (on the left), so I browsed their product database to give the room my own personal touches. I selected a plain white mirror and a more beachy image for the wall (on the right).
Overall, I was really pleased—we’re actually going to try out this room layout to see how it works for us! You can purchase their suggested items straight from the site, and if needed, you can request design revisions, too.
These aren’t the only tools you can use to break out of a decorating rut. One incredibly popular place to find interior design inspiration is obviously Pinterest, which has thousands of free images for you to browse and save on a board to build up a cohesive look.
Alternatively, if you want to visualize your space in 3D, check out the free Floorplanner tool, which lets you render your space in 2D or 3D. The free plan lets you recreate and decorate your room using their product library.
Planner 5D is another free design tool, and it’s built with amateurs in mind. This tool makes it simple to create 2D and 3D renderings of your home, then you can add on all sorts of furniture and design accents like paint and wallpaper.
Have you ever tried a virtual design service? Would you? Tell us in the comments below!