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A Guide to Online Design Services

When your kitchen, bedroom, or entire home needs a makeover, try online design. Here's everything you need to know before you sign up for an online design makeover, plus our favorite services from great designers at every price point.

What to Expect:

With online interior design, you'll have the benefit of a pro's eye on your space without the cost of a full-service designer.

A full-service (on-location) designer visits your space, takes measurement, and asks about your lifestyle and decorating style. With online design services, you do most of the legwork and send your information, photos, and likes and dislikes to the designer via email. You'll receive a design plan in return.

While each service delivers the information in different ways, online design services offer you all the information you need to execute the project on your own timeline.

Tips for a Successful Result:

Be up-front about your budget and available resources. For example, ask the designer not to specify any goods from retail stores that aren't available in your area unless they have a retail website.

Measure doorways and hallways, especially if you live in an apartment. That awesome sectional is not a good design pick if there's no way to get it into your space. Check out any tight corners or low ceilings, such as in stairways or dormer niches.

Send as many inspirational photos as you can, and point out exactly what you like about them. Similarly, reference specific colors or styles you like or dislike. The more specific you are, the better sense the designer will have of your style.

Point out any quirks about your space that might not show up in the photographs. For example, mention the location of your living room's cable hookup so you don't get a design plan back that places the TV somewhere you can't accommodate.

Be clear about the furniture or accessories you'd like to keep and which pieces can't be re-covered or painted for sentimental reasons.

Most online design services charge by the room. If you have an open-plan space, e-mail the service to ask about their approach and fees.

Full-Design Service

Service: instant/space


Designer: Betsy Burnham

Designer Betsy Burnham spends a lot of time gathering information about you, your rooms, and your lifestyle before handing over a customized master plan that reflects her eclectic and polished design aesthetic.

What you get:

  • A mood board (using color images of furniture and rooms, and small swatches) for design inspiration.
  • A to-scale floor plan showing where the selected furniture should be placed.
  • A book of fabric swatches, wallpaper and paint samples, and photos of flooring, tile, and hardware chosen for the space.
  • A detailed shopping list -- both local and online -- for everything recommended.
  • A step-by-step explanation of how to pull all the elements together.

Pricing: Starting at $975/room


Full-Design Service

Service: Room in a Box


Designer: Windsor Smith

Get access to designer Windsor Smith's famous mix of historical references and crazy-good details, all delivered to you in a beautiful peacock blue box.

What you get:

  • A room rendering to show what the room will look like when completed.
  • A to-scale floor plan to show the room arrangement.
  • A collection of images and swatches recommended for your room mounted on a board. This should give you an idea of the overall look for the space.
  • A look book that includes all the furniture and accessories, along with sourcing, recommended for the space.
  • Samples of the fabrics, wallpapers, and paint colors recommended for the space.

Pricing: Starting at $900/room


Full-Design Service

Service: Mary McGee Online


Designer: Mary McGee

If you want luxe design, a glamorous mix of styles and finishes, and rooms with a little edge, Mary McGee is the designer to turn to.

What you get:

  • A mood board with recommendations for every element needed to transform the space, from paint colors to lighting.
  • A floor plan to show the new layout, including furniture, decorative lighting, joinery designs, accessories, and a general electrical layout.
  • Sourcing for all items as indicated on the mood board.
  • Fabric swatches, wallpaper samples, and other samples for reference.

Pricing: Starting at $950/room


Full-Design Service

Service: Get a Room


Designers: Amanda Malson and Jolene Huitt, Domicile ID

These two designers mix vintage with new pieces and have a West Coast flair that brings energy to any room.

What you get:

  • A floor plan with customized furniture layout.
  • A mood board with inspirational photos.
  • A board of furniture and accessory selections.
  • A complete shopping list for the items recommended.
  • A list of do-it-yourself ideas and useful tips to apply to your project.

Pricing: Starting at $250/room


Design Consultation

Service: Birdhouse Interior Design


Designer: Jessica McKay

If you already have an idea of your style and just want a little help pulling a space together, Jessica McKay has your back.

What you get:

  • A mood board with specific recommendations and resource information for all furnishings, accessories, lighting, etc.
  • An explanation of how to use the recommended additions to the space.
  • Tips for color palette and ideas for repurposing items.

Pricing: $250/room


A la Carte Services

Service: Virtual Decorator (kelly + olive)


Designers: Courtney Davis and Lauren Paradise

Designers Courtney Davis and Lauren Paradise put a premium on discovering and encouraging your style. Their a la carte services are designed to help you improve your home step-by-step.

What they offer:

  • Color consultation: A complete palette of coordinating paint colors for use in one room or throughout your home. Let them in on any future decorating plans, and they'll make sure the palette reflects that, too.
  • Mood board: A color consultation plus a collage of furniture suggestions, a floor plan, accessory picks, and ideas for making over existing pieces.

Pricing: Color consultation: $200; mood board: $350


Preplanned Designs

Service: Design in a Bag


Designer: Rebekah Zaveloff

Kitchen designer Rebekah Zaveloff offers no-fail material and color combos to transform kitchens and baths.

What you get:

  • Samples of finish materials (cabinetry, countertops, tile, and glass).
  • Full-page paint swatches.
  • Four full-color hand-drawn 3D renderings.
  • Shopping list fact sheet.

Pricing: starting at $69 for kitchen, $49 for bath

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