When Andrea Ponchione and her family moved from their two-bedroom Manhattan apartment to a 2,400-square-foot house in Rockville Centre, she didn’t know where to begin when it came to decorating the new home.
“The thought of moving and decorating a house all while taking care of two young children seemed overwhelming,” Ponchione recalls. “We had to basically start from scratch and we didn’t want to spend a ton of money on an interior decorator, so we decided to use Modsy."
Modsy is among a growing number of online interior design companies taking high-end look decorating to the masses on Long Island and elsewhere by offering services once accessible only to the wealthy at a fraction of the cost of hiring a traditional designer. While Ponchione paid $349 to redesign her living room, family room and master bedroom, some of these newcomers, which include Havenly and Decorist, offer design help starting at just $19.
The process usually starts with clients providing a photograph of the space to be redesigned, setting their budget and taking a survey to determine what décor styles appeal to them. Renderings of makeover options are then created and when a final look is selected, clients receive a recommended list of curated products and accessories to buy culled from affiliated sources such as Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, One Kings Lane, Bed Bath & Beyond and Target. There are no in-person consultations involved.
“It was fairly simple and stress-free,” Ponchione, an executive assistant, says of the Modsy redesign process. “They sent two [renderings] of each room and I liked them both. You can ask for revisions but I didn’t need to … We bought most of the items [shown] in each room, but we did get a few things that just resembled them — that was due to budget.” She adds, “It only took a couple of weeks to see the designs.”
Like Ponchione, Havenly client Danielle Collins Groner was moving into a house that made her feel “overwhelmed” when she pondered decorating ideas.
“My husband and I bought a house in June in Merrick and it was a gut renovation, so it was a blank canvas,” Groner explains. “I love interior design and could get lost in Home Goods for hours, but the house was so barren there were too many options.”
Groner, a former public relations representative for home furnishings clients including Restoration Hardware, imagined the four-bedroom house as a cozy, colorful space set against neutral walls but that’s as far as her creative juices flowed. She ended up getting three concepts for her living room from Havenly, scoring a $59.99 package for just $19.99 after using a discount code. “The whole process took about a week or 10 days.”
Although Groner didn’t purchase any of the suggested items from Havenly’s partner retailers shown in the illustrations, she did buy wall art with colors mirroring a piece shown in her Havenly drawings to make the living room pop.
The Havenly decorator assigned to the Groners "came up with a finalized mood board and I was able to tap into the designer to ask questions about what size rugs we should use, so I learned a lot through the experience,” Groner adds.
Modsy founder and CEO, Shanna Tellerman, says she got the idea for an app design company after being faced with the same dilemma as Ponchione and Grover when confronted with a new house waiting to be decorated.
“I knew I wasn’t alone in this struggle and that this was an issue many faced,” Tellerman says. “I researched what options were out there to help me visualize furniture in my home and recognized a technological hole in the interior design market. Anyone should be able to have a beautiful home by seeing things before buying.”
Kirsten Yadouga, a Bellport resident and former online interior designer for Decorist, says lower-cost virtual home decorating appears to be here to stay. For about a year she worked for Decorist, then she left to start her own similar service but with much higher pricing. She says affordable interior design allows people who before only dreamed of living in a magazine-worthy space to live their dreams.
“It’s across the board,” Yadouga adds of people who seek these new services. “I see kind of a balance — there’s the client who’s a little intimidated by traditional interior design but has design knowledge and the person who’s on a budget who wants to dip their toe into design with a redo of a bathroom or an update of a living room.”
Here’s a sampling of affordable online interior design services and what may make them standouts from the rest.
COST: $19 to $179
What you get: If you have a small design dilemma, like you need quick advice on a piece or project, you can have a “consult” with Havenly through the app or site for just $19. Actual concepts are $69 for a mini design with up to two revisions, or $179 buys a full design package that includes one design concept with a revision, a custom floor plan and a 3-D rendering.
COST: $79 to $499
What you get: Modsy creates 3-D, to-scale 360-degree renderings of rooms in your home. Its 3-D Style Editor allows you to instantly change and rearrange furnishings.
COST: $99 to $1,299
What you get: Design help ranging from an “Accessory Refresh” — an option when you’re not ready for a full makeover and want to keep your existing furniture — to a high-end “Celebrity Designer” treatment.