If you’ve ever thought about redecorating a room in your home, you know how hard it can be. After visiting every design site, gazing at countless celebrity Instagrams, and collecting dozens of paint chips, you probably still had a million questions. Where do I start? What’s my style? How much money should I spend? And how long will this take, because my in-laws are coming in two weeks? It’s enough to make you give up before you begin.
But you don't have to give up. You can get any room a quick makeover by reaching out to an online design service. From Havenly to Modsy to a host of lesser-known companies, these services create new designs for the room of your choice. Working with designers from these companies, the process is faster and less expensive than working with a traditional interior designer. Though you don't get the in-home consultations or personalized support a local designer provides, using one of the design services, you could still end up with the professionally-designed room of your dreams.
Even design writers have rooms that need help—my master bedroom is a big snooze, and not in a good way. I decided to try Modsy, and here's how it went.
What is Modsy?
Modsy offers a simple, online approach to room makeover planning. Email Modsy photos of your space and it sends back 3-D renderings based on your personal style. It’s fast, super-convenient, done by experts, and every piece is scaled perfectly to the room. (That’s a really tough one for non-experts.) You can click to buy anything you want, and everything you select is loaded into a single cart. As long as you like the styles the designers choose for you, it could be a win all around.
I was intrigued but wasn't sure Modsy was right for me. To find out, I spoke with Alessandra Wood, Modsy’s vice president of style, to find out who uses the service and why. Wood says that everybody has a unique design problem and the designers use their knowledge to find solutions for it. One strong profile among Modsy customers, Wood says: “People who are going through major life changes. They have disposable income and they’re ready to invest in their home."
Okay, I’m not going through any big changes in my life—no new home, new marriage, or new baby—but as somebody who's been on the edge of the design world for years, I was hooked on the concept. And for me, it was personal. I wanted a fresh start on my dull master bedroom, which was decorated about 10 years ago. I needed another designer's recommendations.
Step 1: Take the style quiz
To get the process started, I took Modsy's free style quiz to clue the designers into my personal style. I looked through images of good-looking rooms and clicked the ones that appealed to me. I also had a chance to go through a bunch of décor items and like or dislike them. I dissed more pieces than I liked, but I figured that was cool—they asked me, right?
After examining the results, Modsy told me I was a "classic collector", a style that combines classic formal and eclectic with a touch of mid-century modern. That sounded a little random to me, but it's probably accurate.
Step 2: Take pictures and measure the space
Before it could provide an updated design, the designers at Modsy needed to see what my current bedroom looks like. I had to measure every wall and take between eight and 20 pictures of the room from various angles that they specified. Luckily, smartphone images are fine with them.
They're even okay if the pictures show clutter, though I vacuumed and decluttered before I shot photos because I wanted to make a good impression.
Step 3: Describe the project
Finally, I was asked to describe the function of the room (sleeping), set limits on the furnishings budget (I chose the lowest level, $2,500 or less), and select brands that interested me. (There are over 100, so chances are good you'll find some you like.) I also asked to include my current rug in the final designs. Modsy dealt with that request by including a very similar rug in all the design images.
Step 4: Review the designs
A few days later, I received an email with my two different room designs. I was excited to see my new rooms! The images were attractive, and I had fun playing with the 360-degree views, which showed me the entire space from every angle. I also received notes explaining why the items had been chosen for me; for example, a terracotta pillow fit within my preferred colors.
But I thought that the rooms Modsy designed looked minimalist and generic. I mean, I am so done with the old look, but there were several issues with the new designs. They didn't have enough dresser space for a couple with lots of chunky sweaters.
Another problem: In one of the designs, only one side of the bed had a reading light. Maybe Modsy thought only one of us would read at a time? And one of the designs showed a fiddle-leaf fig tree placed right in front of the radiator. Although it was a fake, that just looks weird.
On the flip side, the art the designers picked for my room was very much my jam, but the pictures I liked best would have cost me over $800 each. That was definitely not in my budget. Not surprisingly, Modsy did not include anything I could buy at Target.
Step 5: Discuss with the designer
Modsy offers design packages that range from $69 for a basic package to $499 for a package that includes a review of three rooms at one time. Modsy let me sign up for the premium package for $199, which gave me the opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation with a designer. Because I was researching this article, I got to speak with Wood, who had also participated in the designs of my room. She told me that if I wanted, the design team could fine-tune the room so it would work better for me. It was a nice offer, though Modsy and I had very different ideas about where the room should go.
Step 6: Decide what to buy
Modsy makes it ridiculously easy to shop the designs they select. I can go to my “studio” and click the pieces I want for the new room. I can also choose similar pieces that I like better. I haven’t bought anything yet, but I do like a petite bench Modsy recommended. Maybe I'll snag it once I have a better idea of how the room should look.
Should you try Modsy?
I love the idea of using technology to create professionally-designed rooms. While the two room designs that Modsy sent me were charming, neither of them was exactly my style. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it, though.
If you want to update a room in your home, you can’t beat the convenience of an online design service, from the fast turnaround to the ease of loading items from a variety of brands in a single shopping cart. Based on my experience, regardless of the style the questionnaire assigns you, Modsy will design a clean-looking neutral space with a number of pricey (but attractive!) furnishings and accessories. You will enjoy using the 360-degree view to see your new room designs from every angle. And the décor items the Modsy designers picks can be appealing. As far as whether you’ll actually buy any of them, that’s up to you.