Interiors Articles

Online interior design: what's the deal

Want to redo an entire room but don’t know where to begin? Luckily, more interior decorators are taking their businesses digital

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We can’t be the only ones who’ve been driven bananas by before-and-after interiors pictures on Pinterest and Instagram, spending entire Sundays scrolling disconsolately through what seems like the entire internet, and still not finding the right “industrial chic” fittings to up-style our “doing-it-cheap” flats. Well, thanks to the rise of digital interior design, our despairing days may well be numbered.

There’s been an increase in online decorating services in recent years, meaning we can get one step closer to dream interiors without an army of TV-ready experts (cast aside those memories of vintage Changing Rooms) or the need for a whopping budget. These companies will pull everything together – from furniture to finishing touches – and you’ll get the look you want, minus the stress.

One such company is Topology, founded by designers Athina Bluff and Amy Brandhorst. In the two years they’ve been operating, the duo have seen monochrome east London bachelor pads, large-scale property developer show homes, fixer-upper first-time buys, tiny flats and grand houses. And they’ve worked with them all remotely. “People are much more aware of interiors trends these days,” Bluff told us.

Topology’s services (from £95 per room) work by clients submitting pictures of the room they want to decorate, measurements, a description, a budget and mood boards. They’re one of the newer brands around, but offer personal perks with their service; that can include sharing their discount at certain homeware shops, no time limit to their assistance and a blog full of handy inspiration and trade secrets. The only apparent downside is that you are paired up with a designer before you submit your project details, so you have to trust that said designer is an all-rounder (you’re unlikely to be dealt an expert in Georgian bungalows if that’s what you happen to own).

Visit a bigger site – such as RoomLab, Homewings, and Decology – and you’ll be matched with a designer that suits your project. They’ll deal with colour schemes, furniture, and smaller items to bring it all together. Most have a range of packages options to choose from; My Bespoke Room start theirs at £95 (perfect for an update and refresh), going up to £250 for a large space/open-plan makeover. Decology’s packages begin at £125 per room, which gets you a resident designer and one concept – the more you pay (up to £500 per room), the more concepts and the more qualified your assigned expert becomes. They also mock up what the finished room will look like, including floorplans, so you won’t find yourself staring around your house in disappointment at all the things that seemed like they’d go together but don’t. And you can add on a home visit, but in the age of video calling that doesn’t seem entirely necessary.

Of course, you’ll still have to pay for anything the designer selects for you and put the look together in your home. But that’s why you’re always asked what your budget is, and most services have relationships (and lovely discounts) with brands.

If we boil it down, what you get is professional mood-board assistance. As Bluff explains, “We get a lot of customers who just don’t know much about design and want some help.” That help is going to add around £100 to your decorating budget, but for that you’ll get access to an expert who will take into account current trends alongside individual room size, layout, and natural lighting. So if you want someone who will listen to your wildest dreams and give you a reality check where necessary, this is how to get someone on your team who will help. Even if they do tell you that the lovely blue velvet nine-seater sofa won’t fit into your studio apartment.

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