Online design firms have been popping up more rapidly than millennial pink items on our Instagram feeds. From Havenly to Modsy, these firms make traditionally high priced, exclusive services available to a wider audience and for a more approachable price point.
With so many online design services to choose from (and new ones popping up daily), how do clients figure out which company will best suit their needs? Each company has its own design process, available services, and aesthetic strengths. Explore the creative world of online design by comparing a few companies and what they offer.
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From first glance, Havenly is all pretty in pink—lots of pastels and a feminine glam bedroom are featured on the main page. They offer three tiers of design: design quickie (free) a way to feel out the design process including a 30-minute chat with an interior designer; havenly mini ($79) which includes three mood board ideas, one fleshed out concept with one revision; and havenly full ($199/room) offering three mood board ideas, one fleshed out concept and two revisions. These services cater to the non-committal and those desiring full service. Clicking through their projects, you'll find an array of 3D room designs of everything from nurseries to home offices. Each project is noted with the client's budget and the designer, which is nice since it allows potential clients to see what can be done on their own budget. And if you don't want any help from a designer, there's a shopping section with curated items for users to pick and choose on their own.
What We Like
The program offers a fun picture quiz to determine your design style.
Havenly caters to both the non-committal and those desiring full service.
Each project is noted with the client's budget and the designer, which allows potential clients to see what can be done on their own budget.
There's a DIY shopping section with curated items for users to pick and choose on their own.
What We Don't Like
Both havenly mini and havenly full packages offer three initial designs with one revision for the mini package and two revisions for the full. It would be ideal to have more of a difference between packages.
Focus is on "pretty;" there are programs available that may be more appropriate for masculine or contemporary looks.
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Modsy's look leans toward minimalist, mid-century modern and offers 3D models similar to those of Havenly, but that's where the similarities end. Modsy offers a more DIY style approach and two decorating options: modsy (starting at $69/room) and modsy + style advisor (starting at $199/room). Both packages include two custom designs laid out in a 3D mockup of your room. You receive a portfolio of life-like images for each design concept including top-down and 360-degree views. Modsy also allows for unlimited design revisions to the mockup so you can swap in alternative products, even pieces you already own and play with different layouts. For example, if you don't like the couch in the two initial designs, you can swap them out for different couches until you see one you like. Once the design is settled on, you can purchase the items through direct links provided in your designs. For the $199 style advisor package, you'll work one-on-one with a dedicated style advisor throughout the full experience via video, phone or chat.
Unlimited design revisions so you can change your mind as many times as you want.
Allows you to work with or without a "style advisor" at different price points.
You can't see or choose your own style advisor so the process feels a little removed and less personalized.
A more DIY approach means less support for the design process.
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You may have heard of this Insta-famous (at 1.5 m followers) design company. Homepolish is your one-stop-shop, offering over 20 different design tasks from site surveying, to hanging a gallery wall, to bidding contractors. Their packages run a little differently than the others, offering an hourly rate vs. per room: design package ($130/hour with a 10-hour minimum) or single day session ($390/flat rate per three hours, one day). Homepolish seems much more hands-on than the other companies in that they offer in-home consultations with designers in 15 cities or remotely by video. Once you've purchased your hours, the designer is at your disposal to perform any of the design services in their scope. This lets you custom tailor your own design needs and priorities.
A "case studies" section which details different scenarios they've faced with a who, what, where, how, plus the budget and scope of work.
Homepolish offers a one-stop-shop for over 20 design tasks.
You can choose from hourly, daily, and package design rates.
It's easy to custom design a look for your home and budget.
Prices are a bit higher than other companies, but they do seem to be heavily service-based with a concierge and complimentary consultations.
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Planner 5D is a self-service interior design tool anyone can use to create floorplans, 3D models or renderings. The sleek look of the website reveals that is a tech-based design company, with more of a focus on the app and less on aesthetics. There are three packages: 30 days ($9.99/ads free with three HD snapshots), one year ($19.99/ads free with five HD snapshots), and unlimited ($29.99/ads free with 10 HD snapshots). You are able to access the basics for free, however, there are only five to six options in the catalog for each element, such as architectural features or furniture. To unlock the full catalog, which includes over 3,000 design items, you must purchase one of the package options. This is not for the faint of heart–it seems easy enough upon first glance but after giving it a go, it's not as user-friendly as it initially appears. This process requires a lot of patience and you must be proficient with computers.
The program lets you create realistic 3D renderings by yourself without the help of an architect or designer.
The options make this program deal for tech-savvy DIY decorators.
The program is completely self-reliant and the packages don't offer much assistance or support. Recommended for tech-savvy users only.
There are only five to six options in the initial catalog for each element, such as architectural features or furniture. You must select a package before seeing the full catalog.
These online interior design companies are helping change the landscape of design, making it more accessible and more affordable to everyone. Each of these companies are unique in their own way. Whether you need a complete overhaul or just want to fix up one room; whether you need someone to take the reins or just a little guidance to help you through the process, these companies are there to support your specific needs. Good design helps brighten our daily lives, adds value to our homes, and helps adjust to our changing lifestyles. So go out there (locally or on the web), and start designing!
Mai Dolinh is an interior designer and founder of Design Vice, based in Washington, DC.