Fed up with free tools, I gave paid services a go. I was first introduced to e-interior design startup Havenly a few years ago at SXSW. The service promises to create a mood board, layout, and a shopping list to help make implementing the design easy — all under a flat rate instead of an hourly bill you might get with an in-person designer. (Havenly starts at $19 for a consultation, while the full experience is $169 for a bare room, with help on where to lay out each piece.)
You may be thinking of knocking down an existing house and rebuilding, you may have a sloping or difficult site, you make have acreage that has views, you may have certain restrictions or you may wish to have the greenest home in the region….. your Design Team is not only creative but a problem solver.
Trying to stretch as much of my budget as possible, I first tried a few free services for modeling my soon-to-be home. Some light Googling led me to Roomstyler, a 3D rendering tool for mocking up rooms and furnishing them with select furniture pieces from a catalog. This seemed like a good start for envisioning how we could lay out some of the items that would make the move with us.
For the project, my boyfriend and I were willing to invest up to $3,000 on new furnishings and art (about a fourth of that budget I anticipate to make back in selling furniture we’re replacing). Our small (but reasonably sizable, for New York City) apartment needed the most work in the living / dining room, which is open to the kitchen. We cook at home a decent amount, but never have enough people over for a formal dining space. We do have friends over frequently to hang, drink, and play games, so we wanted the room to feel light, bright, and easy for multiple people to maneuver around.
I got so tired of scrolling through options that I just plopped a couple of items in there to visualize the space. Eventually, I felt embarrassed by the duckling I’d created. The room looked as if I was trying to re-create a West Elm showroom by memory using only stuff I can get from a local Walmart. I had to move on.
Choosing the wall colors and floor felt surprisingly zen until I got to the furniture layout portion. While you can choose any color under the sun to virtually paint your room, the furniture selection tool is super clunky to use. A search for sectionals offered up hundreds of results, but filtering by color suddenly slimmed the results down to one or two options, even though there were clearly pieces that fit what I wanted when I didn’t clarify color choice.