When escaping to a bungalow on the beach or a cottage in the country, it’s all about squeezing every last second out of that precious vacation time. Décor is not exactly the first priority for these transitional habitats. Yet at the same time, a well-designed space, one plotted specifically with relaxation or entertaining in mind, can make a big difference in how the home is enjoyed on fleeting summer days.
Over the last five years, there’s been an explosion in professional interior decorating services catering to the masses, meaning they’re both fast and budget-friendly. From online design startups that will provide a room design for as little as $200, to local interior designers who will virtually decorate a space for a fraction of their going rate, it’s easier and more affordable than ever to turn a summer getaway (or even your primary residence) into a dream home.
Townhouse With Bold Twist
Online Interior Design
There are about a dozen web-based services that have popped up in the last few years (Decorist, Havenly, Homepolish and Laurel & Wolf are among the largest), but most offer a twist on the same process: for a fee ranging from $200 to $1,300, a homeowner is paired with a designated designer who will incorporate personal preferences and pictures of the home into a brand new design scheme. Most include a room mock-up, floor plan and shopping list.
The entire process is done through email and photos, which keeps costs low, but is still effective in terms of customer satisfaction and aesthetic designation. “It’s easy for me to identify a client’s style because the process is so thorough on the front end,” said Kirsten Yadouga, a Bellport-based designer for Decorist. “I ask my clients all kinds of questions about budget, lifestyle and the end use of the room. I’ve had clients with specific needs around children or different design styles between spouses. There’s a communication process and it’s very collaborative.”
One of the greatest benefits of this approach is its speed. “Once a designer is assigned to a project, we create two different room concepts for the client, usually with a turnaround of about four days,” Yadouga said. “Once the client gives their feedback and chooses a design they like best, it takes about another four days for the designer to make revisions to the design.” The entire length of the process is about two weeks. Decorist designs encompass everything from paint colors and furnishings to lighting and art.
The company’s services start at $299 per room to work with a newer designer, and climb to $1,299 per room to work with one of its “celebrity” designers, including names like Celerie Kemble and Palmer Weiss, whose traditional design services cost several hundreds of dollars per hour.
Putting the E in Easy
Prefer to work with a reputable designer closer to home? The e-design approach isn’t one that’s limited to large online services. Many local designers (high end, award-winning firms included) are broadening their offerings to include virtual design.
Gail Green, owner of Gail Green Interiors in Manhattan, began her e-design service almost five years ago in order to reach an audience who might be interested in professional design, but not the investment associated with a traditional approach. She’s seen a huge response beyond the urban sophisticates of the New York metro area but also “with many local people…most for whom time and budget might be an issue.”
Since Green still runs a traditional design business and has more than 30 years of experience in the industry, her e-design service is a bit more involved than what you’d find with an online-only company. “The client contacts us and gives us the scope of the project and a wish list of what they want to achieve,” she said. “Then we send them directions on how to measure their space and take pictures and have them fill out a questionnaire.” Green also provides all of her e-design clients with a guide to design styles, in order to help them articulate their goals for their space. After the information has been gathered, the entire process takes about six weeks.
Green offers four tiered options, ranging from simple guidance on paint colors, furniture and fabric, to more comprehensive design that also includes floor plans, art selection and accessories. Prices for e-design range from $1,000 to $2,400, though a furniture budget can range from $5,000 to $50,000.
There are also options for furnished rooms that are in need of a simple sprucing up. Manhattan-based Elizabeth Vaughan, owner of In-Site Interior Design, recently launched a program she calls Luxury Home to precisely fulfill this demand. It’s about as turnkey as it gets.
Through Luxury Home, Vaughan offers a set of coordinated décor collections curated by her and her team. Each collection is focused around distinct aesthetics and color schemes for paint, drapery, wall décor and accessories to instantly tie a room together. Clients can either choose the products from the collection they like best (there are multiple options for each element) or opt for Vaughan’s “designer package” of her personal favorites. Either way, “They can pick anything from the collection and know it will work well together,” she said.
One benefit of working through a designer like Vaughan is access to resources that are only available to industry professionals. “Within each collection, the fabrics we’ve chosen are from designer showrooms, our drapery is custom and many of the accessories are to the trade,” she said. Still, speed and value are the ultimate goal with the new program. “Rooms like this could cost $5,000 to $10,000 to create if you worked with a designer, but end up costing less than half that.” In terms of timing, many accessories are available in as little as two weeks and custom drapery is available in three to four weeks. In total, the design process typically takes from eight to twelve weeks.