What is a virtual interior design?
Virtual interior design is practical and a solely digital form of interior design where the client doesn’t meet in person with the designer.
In this from of online interior design services from brief and design concept to communication and design project everything is delivered via a website platform i.e video chat or e-mail. 90% of the discussion happens online, 10% over the phone and 0% face to face.
By George Nicola (Expert Stager)
Table of Contents
Virtual interior design may be the new norm for designing our homes; it is time to embrace the truth and live with it.
This informative article covers the 17 best virtual interior design services in the US and the UK.
We’ve compared them on cost, benefits, disadvantages, and timeframes.
Additionally, you will find information on the basics of virtual interior design, and what differentiates it from the traditional interior design we’ve known till this moment.
First, you will learn why virtual design might be the new norm and how important it is for the industry.
What is a virtual interior designer?
A virtual interior designer provides interior design services completely online, without meeting the client in person. Here are some key things to know about virtual interior design services:
- Services provided virtually: Everything from the initial consultation to final walkthroughs are done virtually via video calls, emails, online chats, etc. The designer typically never visits the physical space.
- More affordable: Virtual designers charge lower fees because they have lower overhead without a physical office space. Hourly rates can be 20-50% cheaper than traditional designers.
- Still get personalized service: Clients are matched with a dedicated designer who provides personalized suggestions tailored to their style and budget. It’s not just generic recommendations.
- No in-person interactions: Some clients prefer face-to-face meetings and consultations. Virtual design lacks this personal touch.
- Best for smaller projects: Virtual designers are ideal for small projects like one room makeovers. Larger scale renovations may benefit from an in-person designer.
- Emerging industry: Virtual interior design is relatively new compared to the traditional model which has been around for decades. But it is rapidly gaining popularity.
So in summary, virtual interior designers offer a more affordable and convenient option for those who want professional design help but don’t require intensive in-person collaboration. The end results can be just as good!
WHEN ONLINE INTERIOR DESIGN SERVICES BECAME A THING?
The idea for a simplified design process originated from 1990-2000 but gained popularity between 2014-2015 in the US.
A genius idea offering low-budget design lovers who can’t or do not want to hire a professional designer. With online interior design service you can virtually decorate any space, employing the skills of an in house designer, but paying a fraction of the price.
Over time, it gained popularity between low-end interior design project-clients. At first the typical a project would start with virtual consultation and a style quiz.
Followed by a scaled floor plan suggestions with mood board of the room design. The service evolved, and more services appeared:
- custom floor plan with design board options
- shopping list
- custom layout and room flow
- furniture layout
- basic 3D renderings
- textile samples
- multiple revisions
- product suggestions
- paint recommendations
Where all evolved into a complete package.
What used to be a meeting between client and designer face to face is shifted to online platforms resulted in cost-effective projects.
WHY IS ONLINE INTERIOR DESIGN A NEW TREND?
The main benefit of online design services is turnaround time and costs.
If your project requires mostly paint colors, existing furniture and accessories swapping around.
Your budget is limited, and most importantly, all you need it this to happen quickly – virtual design is the solution.
While researching this topic, I’ve read on the internet that someone compared the virtual interior design to fast food shops.
It does the job quickly, but if you are into the grande project, don’t waste time.
Let’s find out why is that.
CAN VIRTUAL INTERIOR DESIGN PROJECT BE FREE OF CHARGE?
Realistically virtual interior design service can be free of charge (at least one of the design packages). With most of the providers I’ve looked, first client interaction is a design brief – style quiz, populated by the client.
Based on these style preferences the company creates the concept for the new space. Depending on the complexity and scale of a project, it is possible to offer a free interior design project to some degree.
The designers in this scenario earn their money from a commission on the furniture order and decors. Typically their commission varies between 3% for decorations and accessories and up to 60% with most lighting and sofa companies.
A DETAILED LIST OF ONLINE INTERIOR DESIGN PROVIDERS
Below is a list of online interior design service, their pros, cons, and what you can achieve by using them.
You will love this reading if you are searching for a free interior design advice or the best online interior design.
Keep reading and you’ll find it below.
Constructive criticism – opinion
There is a downside as well to all this virtual (online) interior design industry; The majority of service providers offer only simplified solutions and not custom furniture layouts for projects, which may not be enough.
The above means if your project requires more than online shopping list and you have a grand idea which will involve building codes & regulations, floor planning, mechanical and electrical planning, interior fittings and furniture.
That type of design services won’t be your solution.
According to the BusinessWire in their market research forecast for 2018-2025, the global interior design market is estimated to grow at a significant rate up to almost $7B. Alone in 2022 the industry grew by 5.8%
Changes in the social environment and changes in standard of living among millennials will boost the global Spatial Design market in the upcoming year.
The growth of the middle-class population size and augmentation in their desire to strengthen their standing in the society is the main driver of the global market.
WHO THE IDEAL CLIENT FOR ONLINE INTERIOR DESIGN SERVICE?
The residential market and specifically middle working-class families, singles, students. are ideal client.
Millennials sit at the top of the target group along with the rapid changes of the society, adopting habits that are shifted to the online environment.
Today we have less time, and we need everything as soon as possible. For this reason, virtual interior design is a suitable option because.
Based on the idea to offer ready-to-ship and buy furniture and decors for the end-user to arrange according to the floor plan and mood boards provided by the online designer.
IS ONLINE INTERIOR DESIGN A THREAT TRADITIONAL INTERIOR DESIGN SERVICE?
No, online services will not take over the traditional. But they will co-exist and it is likely that traditional designers will adopt more digital approach. Both services are not direct competitors, although it may seem like they are given the the nature of the bussiness.
Surely some of the small interior design studios might lose the client’s attention if they don’t adapt to the ever-changing market.
All it takes for a studio is to set up a bare-bones design service providing value to the client – digitally.
This will create an opportunity for indirect overlapping competition with virtual interior design companies.
Alone in the US in 2019, the interior design industry sales were close to $11 billion and the majority of the projects we’re executed by the traditional interior design companies.
HOW TO CHOOSE AN ONLINE VIRTUAL INTERIOR DESIGNER?
Now is the time to get into the details, direct comparisons of other online design services and companies. Of course, when you pick at least three options, you will need to prepare yourself.
This is something you will learn below, let’s get started!
TOP 5 REASONS YOU MIGHT WANT TO HIRE AN ONLINE DESIGNER
- It’s affordable: With online designers, you can get professional design assistance at a flat fee per one room.
- Tailored: Online designers can offer customized design solutions that fit your specific needs with a tool called – layout visualizations, no matter how small the project is.
- Quick and Easy Redecoration: If you only need a simple redecoration and space planning, the online analogy can provide you with quick and efficient solutions, including full room furniture arrangement with your existing pieces.
- Time-saving Feasibility Studies: If you’re planning to purchase a new property, online designers can provide feasibility studies to help you determine if the property will meet your needs before you make the purchase.
- Convenient: With the online analogy, you can have a quick consultation with just a few questions to help you get started on your design project with personal shopping list.
TIP: To make the most out of your online design service experience, gather as much information as possible about your desired design, including photos, measurements, and a completed questionnaire. Check of the designer availability and ask for trader discounts.
COSTS OF VIRTUAL INTERIOR DESIGN
Costs of virtual interior design can vary.
In the UK market for online interior design projects vary between as little as £90 ($112) up to £350 ($437) – 400 ($500) per room, some competitors offer FREE online design mini-consultation.
In the US market mini-consultations start at $19 and per room designs at $69 (£55) up to $900 (£720), and as in the UK, some competitors offer FREE online design mini-consultation.
Remember this rule: the smaller the budget is, the less information is supplied. Some of the firms offer even free services besides the online interior design consulting, so take their advice with caution.
If you know you need help with your design project, consider reading this blog post: Hiring An Interior Home Designer | Interior Design Cost & Questions
LIST OF FOUR DIFFERENT VIRTUAL DESIGN SERVICES WHICH VARY IN QUALITY AND COSTS
After analyzing 17 companies, here are the four main online design options:
- AI Powered Online Virtual Design: This type of service is supported by AI automation. With AI taking care of the majority of preliminary processes. Great for those who want a quick and affordable solution.
- Hybrid Virtual Design: In this option, you’ll work with a remote interior designer who will create the design. It’s a great balance between automated design and the personal touch of a traditional interior designer.
- Virtual Design with a More Personal Approach: This option is similar to the hybrid model, but the designer adds a personal touch by sending packs with printed designs and guidance. Ideal for those who want a more hands-on approach.
- DIY Interior Design Software: With this option, the end-user is in charge of their design. Perfect for those who want complete control over the design process and have the time and expertise to do it themselves.
TIP: When choosing an online interior design option, consider your budget, design preferences, and how much control you want over the final design process.
BEST 17 Online Interior Design Services
After analyzing and comparing 17 interior design services in the US and the UK, we’ve compiled a list of the best services available. This is the information for each of them:
- Service Name: Short introduction about the company’s history and main goal.
- Cost: Price of virtual staging services.
- Benefits: Key advantages of using this company.
- Disadvantages: Any potential drawbacks to consider.
- Project Timeframe: Estimated time to complete your project.
AI SUPPORTED ONLINE VIRTUAL DESIGN
Some of the AI-driven design companies refer to them as owning a Virtual interior design app; given the name that suggests they have some form of a platform or mobile app where the end-user is able to interact with the system but it’s not fully self-driven and automated.
Headquartered in San Francisco, CA, this US-based home renovation company uses advanced 3D technology, computer graphics, and creative décor curation for customers seeking home design guidance and ideas. Founded in 2015, Modsy allows homeowners and renovators to use inspirational designs from the perspective of their own homes before implementing any changes.
- This service may be discontinued for new clients. While the website remains operational, it is not clear if they are accepting new clients to date
Havenly is a US-based e-commerce platform and online interior design company established in 2014 to provide budget-friendly ways to design spaces in homes. With over 200 professionally trained interior designers, Havenly is one of the leading home décor companies with the highest number of interior designs.
Hybrid Virtual Design
Virtual Interior Design has never been more exciting than with TALLBOX. Since its inception in 2011, TALLBOX has established itself as a moving force in the industry, bringing together a team of architects, designers and artists to create a distinctive design ethos and character.
The team at TALLBOX is unique, comprising professionals across Architecture, Interior Design, and Marketing, with a multicultural workforce, resulting in a truly outstanding Virtual Interior Design service.
My Bespoke Room
My Bespoke Room Limited is a UK-based prize-winning professional interior design company that helps homeowners to style, design, and furnish their homes. Established in 2013, this company provides its customers with easy-to-use interior design services online to transform their houses into beautiful homes. It is also listed as one of the top 1,000 design professionals by the House & Garden magazine.
Homewings is an online marketplace based in UK. For clients looking to decorate a space with a professional interior designer in a fun, flexible and affordable manner. Homewings gives you exclusive access to the best furniture products through their brand partners, in line with your personal style and budget.
Laurel & Wolf
Founded in 2014, Laurel & Wolf is a US-based interior design website that provides customers with budget-friendly home design solutions by connecting them to expert designers. Laure Fine and Brandon Kleinman established this e-commerce company to allow shoppers to find and hire professional designers affordably and to ease customers’ fears of cost and time.
Based in UK. RoomLab has a dedicated online platform that connects customers to their chosen designer throughout the entire process making it very quick and easy. The amazing designers will find the perfect furniture for your space, style, and budget and show you how it will look in your room.
Decorilla is an online interior design service that connects clients with professional interior designers. The company was founded in 2012 and is based in New York City.
Overall, Decorilla aims to make professional interior design services accessible to a wider audience by offering affordable and convenient online design services.
Founded in 2002 in Brooklyn US, as a sister company focused on modern design and affordability. They claim that 90% of their products are designed in-house with organic materials and sustainably sourced. Today, West Elm has stores in 90 cities in the US and 3 stores in the UK too.
ONLINE DESIGN SERVICES WITH A MORE PERSONAL APPROACH
Established in 2017, Room Lift is an e-commerce Interior Design company that provides home design ideas for people seeking to transform their unique spaces! The website is packed with reasonably priced design ideas to incorporate in your home. You also receive a Room Lift box having a floor plan, wallpaper and paint samples, product images, prices, and styling notes that matches your personal style.
The Mini Interior Design Company
This UK-based interior design company provides you with some of the most innovative interior design concepts that can make lasting memories in your perfectly-styled home. It connects you with a professional interior designer to work with you on an individualized basis. All conveniently done online you can create the beautiful home decor tailor-made to match your personal style and budget.
DIY INTERIOR DESIGN SOFTWARE
Homestyler is an online home design platform that includes a variety of 3D rendering and house planner options for interior decoration. It’s downloadable on both the Google Play Market and the Apple App Store.
Homestyler is a user-friendly programme that facilitates the processes of interior design, décor, furniture placement, and home redecorating. It also has an informative interior design database.
Foyr is a software company that provides visualization solutions for the design. Their product, Foyr Neo, is an interior design software that allows users to convert 2D plans into 3D designs and photorealistic renders quickly. It offers an end-to-end design workflow and is known for its speed compared to other interior design software
Room Sketcher is a Norwegian software company that developed the app around 2000.
Initially, it has been in use to 3D visualize sub-sea oil industry projects, and later in the years, it gained enough traction, which made the developers shift the use course of the app to help homeowners do DIY home designs.
Up-to-date on their website, they claim, the app is used in 180 countries and has 6 million projects on the servers.
Sweet Home 3D
Sweet Home 3D has been around for a while. First public release in 2005 made by the French software company Eteks. The application must be downloaded locally on a computer. It’s simple to work with and offers a ton of options. It comes with thousands of predefined objects (most of them not real) to drag-and-drop; it is available in multiple languages.
Cedreo is founded in 2005 with the idea of general 3D guides for selling solutions. It is used mostly by home builders and real estate agents to simulate the potential of a property during the pre-construction stage. In 2012 the company takes a decision to open the software for the general public which include the DIY home owners.
Space Designer 3D
Space Designer 3D is identified as a prominent rising star in the interior design software market (stated as per on their website).
Asynth is a technology french company who is the engine behind Space Designer created in 2009.
Their main goal is to achieve efficiency and offer intuitive design tools mostly for the DIY market. Up-to-date they have +1million users and raised 1 million euro in 2018 for further development of the software.
VIRTUAL ONLINE DESIGN AND ITS CAVEATS
It is essential for YOU to the readers of this article to receive the best-unaffected opinion on every topic we write here.
In the list above (which will be updated continuously, there is one missing name; and that is Homepolish. The company was one of the first companies to skyrocket in this field, but as with everything new, if you are too fast to go up, you can crumble down loud at the same speed.
Around September 2019, Homepolish experienced a crisis; only a few months later, the company was operating already entirely on a skeleton staff.
Homepolish has collapsed. Its designers are reeling
This is one of the caveats in most industries; if a company is outgrowing its success and relying entirely on investors for funding to grow, the problem can be seen from afar.
My take on this would be, always take this and every journey with a propper due diligence in place.
Do not fall for a glimpse of a beautiful chair or carefully staged interior photography.
Even when we take into consideration that the end-user these days is well protected with refunds in place, things can go wrong as past has shown us already.
The virtual interior design service can be an excellent tool if you are looking to arrange cost-effective design advice for your home. Still, in the end, there are always costs of the furniture, decors and the actual work.
You can dig in further by reading: The Pros And Cons Of Hiring An Interior Designer
COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON ONLINE INTERIOR DESIGN
Virtual interior design is practical and a solely digital form of interior design where the client doesn’t meet in person with the designer. The brief of the design projects is based on a client’s tastes recorded through questionnaires, and 90 percent of the discussion happens online.
In the UK market for online interior design projects vary between as little as £69 ($85) up to £350 ($437) – 400 ($500) per room, some competitors offer FREE mini-consultation.
In the US market mini-consultations start at $19 and per room designs at $69 (£55) up to $900 (£720)
Virtual interior design projects takes typically between 7 days up to 4 weeks if done with a company. DIY virtual designs might take from hours up to weeks or months, depending entirely on the user’s skills and passion.
Virtual interior design is a service like any other. If you consider that it is highly cost-effective and has an advantage of the quick turnaround time, the result will vary from project to project. The success of results depends on the client’s expectations and the designer’s skills.
Online interior design is entirely done online (hence the name). You do not have to meet your designer.
Furniture and decors may not be included in the price of the project. Although with some providers of the service, a certain package of design has the furniture included in their end price.
An online interior design project is simple and always starts with the first step – initial consultation.
The client (buyer) must provide the following information:
– to select references
– to choose a design style
– do describe the idea / end-goal
– to provide room measurements/layout
– to provide room photos (if possible)
– to specify budget
The second step is the actual project. The client/buyer should receive within days the proposal of the designer, which may include one or more design options.
The third step is placing the order with the chosen design option (furniture, decors and more)
The fourth step is the installation of all design elements into the property.