Home Virtual Decorator

Over the last few years, the rise of online decorating services has made a once-rarefied world much more accessible. Companies that offer personalized, virtual interior design ideas—Laurel & Wolf, Home Polish, Decorist, and Havenly, to name a few—have made hiring a decorator as easy as shopping for shoes online. It no longer requires deep pockets, a lengthy research process, or even an in-person meeting. But is online decorating right for everyone—or every room? We turned to a couple of experts to find out how to get the most out of the experience, and get the (real life) space of your dreams.

DO the groundwork
The more information you can provide from the outset, the better. Complete the online quizzes and style assessments to hone in on the look you’re going for. And when it comes to describing your current space, go overboard. “More is more when it comes to working virtually,” says Kimberly Winthrop, a designer with Laurel & Wolf. “The more communication, photos, measurements, and inspiration references, the better your designer will know you and the better your project will flow.” In addition to taking full-room shots, “take photos of details that make your space unique, like moldings, so that your designer can factor them into the design,” says Emily Motayed, co-founder of Havenly.

DON’T be a stickler
The decorators working with these services are vetted—a great reassurance that you’re working with a pro. Look through online portfolios to get a feel for a designer’s work before you hire him or her, but keep in mind it’s better to see that they can work within a range of aesthetics rather than deliver a highly specific look. “Their style may not be exactly your style, but any good designer should be able to deliver what you like,” explains Winthrop.

DO be brutally honest
This process is one of give and take. If your decorator floats an idea that you hate, say so. “A common mistake that people make is not expressing their true opinion on a design or item out of fear of hurting a designer’s feelings,” says Motayed. “Don’t be afraid to be honest.”

DON’T overreach
Virtual decorating services are best for spaces that have fairly straightforward needs and don’t require a renovation, such as living rooms and bedrooms. “When you get into kitchens and baths, where the main elements of the space are built-in or custom, it can be a more challenging project,” says Winthrop.