Updated: October 21, 2022

Like most industries, Interior Design has been impacted by the pervasive adoption of digital technologies, which is good news for homeowners. Interior design services are no longer solely offered for large, luxurious projects, with expansive budgets.

Technology, combined with creativity, is enabling more homeowners than ever before to benefit from high quality design services, from DIY tools, to virtual assistance, to in-person coaching. In this article, we help you evaluate your design options based on the traits of your project.

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How Interior Design Services are Changing

Though most interior designers still prefer working on full-service, in-person projects, enterprising designers, like Lesley Myrick, whom we recently interviewed, have been evolving their services to mesh effectively with the changing preferences of homeowners.

A good example of change that is a rising source of concern in the interior design industry is shopping or product procurement. Historically, procurement of materials and home décor items have been an important part of a designer’s revenue. However, with the pervasiveness of e-commerce sites, more clients prefer to find bargains on their own at costs equal-to or lower-than prices offered by designers.

This trend has led to the unfair practice of “being shopped”, when a client goes around the designer and purchases the designer’s product recommendations directly from the retailer, often at a lower cost.

Now designers can (and should) charge for detailed shopping lists, which gives their clients flexibility to fill out their spaces over time, while also allowing them to receive loyalty benefits from both credit cards and their favorite shops. Some homeowners may actually enjoy the creative hunt for personal statement pieces, as well, when time is not an issue.


Assessing Your Interior Design Needs

When deciding on your design needs and associated budget, evaluate the Level of Difficulty for both the Design and the Implementation. As part of this exercise, reach out to prospective designers to gain a better understanding of their current offerings and pricing. The most valuable asset you should pay for is their “Design Brain”, so that they can:

  • Generate Creative Ideas
  • Develop Detailed Plans
  • Source Items
  • Provide On-Going Guidance & Coaching

A good example of a contemporary hybrid 1-on-1 relationship would be to hire a designer for detailed plans & recommendations, and on-going consulting, while agreeing to take on all purchasing and installation of selected products and materials.


4 Common Interior Design Project Scenarios

Here are Four Basic Design Project Scenarios to consider for your interior design needs, with recommended tool and service options:

1. Easy Design & Easy Implementation:

  • DIY Design Tools & Resources
  • Low-Cost Virtual Design services
  • DIY Project Management Tools & Resources

2. Easy Design & Complex Implementation:

  • DIY Design Tools & Resources
  • Low-Cost Virtual Design Services
  • Professional Project Management

3. Complex Design & Easy Implementation:

  • Virtual Design Services & Coaching
  • Crowdsourced Design Services for Concepts
  • DIY Project Management Tools & Resources

4. Complex Design & Complex Implementation:

  • Full-Service 1-on-1 Local Design Services
  • Hybrid 1-on-1 Design Services
  • Professional Project Management

Interior Design Options by Project Difficulty Matrix


When You Should Hire a Full-Service Interior Designer

Though the manner in which one can work with a designer has changed, we strongly recommend hiring an interior designer for 1-on-1 guidance for projects that may present any of these challenges:

  • Unclear Vision
    • You do not know where to begin and are unsure of possibilities & options
  • High Complexity
    • New layout will likely involve structural changes and will be costly to make any adjustments post project completion
    • Improved functionality for a difficult space
  • Tight Schedule or Budget
    • If you have little room to deviate in terms of time or money
  • Special Uses & Requirements
    • Kid-Friendly; Elderly-Friendly; Aging-in-Place; Multigenerational Usage
    • Energy Efficiency; Sustainability; Home Wellness; Security
  • Reinvention of a Space
    • Personal statement “Passion Plays”
    • Professional Home Office; Bar; Media/Theater Room; Music Studio; Home Spa; Home Fitness Room; Gourmet Kitchen; Indoor-Outdoor Living; etc.
  • Restoration
    • Especially important if having to comply with local historic mandates


Design Pre-Planning: Before Working with a Designer

We admire designers who encourage their clients to gather their preferences, tastes and concepts into idea books. When doing so, we also recommend noting what you like about a given image or photo, which will help sharpen the designer’s understanding of your needs and wishes. Sometimes an image can be about a color palette, another might be about lighting, while another might be about the layout of elements.

Another important part of the design planning process is to review and document your usage needs of the given space and its traits: who; what; when; and how. Here’s an example description of needs for a multiuse space:

“We need it to be a professional home office during the day, with sound insulation and visual privacy, which can be connected with our main entertaining area on the weekends”.


What About Virtual Design Services?

The evolution of digital technology has continually changed many industries by placing more power, knowledge and access into the hands of consumers. The Interior Design industry is no different. However, innovative designers have been adapting their services and pricing to stay relevant, convenient and valuable to digitally empowered consumers.

Here are a few examples of how designers have adapted their services for a virtually connected marketplace:

  • Short 1-on-1 Design Consultations (e.g. 1 to 3 hours)
  • Single Room Virtual Makeovers with Shopping Lists
  • 3-D Visual Renderings & Floorplans
  • Work with clients all over the US, Canada and beyond
  • Work virtually via email, phone, text and video chat (Zoom or Skype)

Our position at Purgula is to be in favor of anything that can be helpful and in the best interest of homeowners. So we certainly believe virtual design and crowdsourcing design services provide benefits to homeowners and have a continued role to play in the industry.

One approach we like to take is using virtual design services to generate a wider range of concepts for projects that have challenging requirements and spaces. The delivered concepts can then be used as input, in collaboration with a locally or virtually hired designer, to ultimately turn a client’s once nebulous vision into reality. Bringing a wide range of fresh eyes to your well-known space can deliver truly surprising and inspiring ideas! This approach offers the best of both worlds: a diverse set of ideas that can be molded to meet your unique needs with direct assistance from your designer.

We believe that a thorough design planning process will dramatically increase the likelihood that you will be happy with the results for a long period of time. A well thought-out design that meets your unique needs will likely save you money later, whereas a lower cost, less-detailed design will increase the chances of “unforeseen” expenses later.

Here are a few articles to help you get familiar with virtual & crowdsourcing design services:

Before you get ready to hire an interior designer for 1-on-1 services, also be sure to read our interview with Lesley Myrick.


Virtual Design Services & Tools


More Recommended Interior Design Articles



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