Keeping up to date with Virtual Design (aka e-decorating) Services

Free Tips on a well decorated home

Did you know that I’ve been offering Virtual Design aka e-decorating,services for the last decade? We keep referring to this type of service as “new”, but in fact there are many tech-savvy designers who have been offering these services for quite a long time. Of course, technologies and modes of communication have come a long way in the last ten years. I was interviewed for an early article on virtual design in the Washington Post in 2008, you can read it here.  I’ve done virtual projects from California to Uganda and interesting places in-between. Now, I will admit, these services are not the same as hiring a local, in person designer who will meet with you and be in your space. The best photos in the world will not make up for knowing how a space feels in person. But, that said, it does open up the service to design lovers whose budgets may not include the cost of a designer or luxury level furnishings. Many stores do offer free designer services and this isn’t a bad way to go – so long as you are content to purchase only items from that store. Independent interior designers – whether traditional luxury level or virtual – are not beholden to certain brands. We may prefer certain brands because we know they are good quality and prices, but you won’t be pushed into only buying from one store or a group of brands. Of course, these services also allow the client to keep specific items as needed.

Anyway, I’ve been updating my services and offerings and wanted to do a “virtual walk-thru” of my virtual design services. I’ll show below a sample project from “before” to final design.

The process is really pretty straight forward. The client contacts me about my services and fills out my initial virtual design intake questionnaire describing their needs and the room they want designed. My fees range from $750.00 – $1,500.00 for full room designs and $450.00 to $1,000.00 for Finishing Touches. Based on the client’s specific needs, I determine the appropriate fee. I send the client an invoice via PayPal. The design fee is due in full at the beginning of the project. Once the fee is paid, I send a detailed set of instructions on how to measure and photograph the room, information I need on items that need to be incorporated into the new design and additional questions about those living in the house and provide space for anything more I should know before starting the process.

So, let’s get started.

This is a living room on Cape Cod and the homeowners have just purchased this house. These are the real estate photos with the prior owners furnishings – so everything is being replaced. The clients have sent me their measured drawings and shared Pinterest boards and Houzz idea books so I can get more detail about their style preferences.  They also confirm their budget parameters. A note about budgets – I will be honest if a client’s budget isn’t big enough to accomplish what they say they want. And I won’t take on a project with an insufficient budget.

My process usually starts with the floor plan and how the room will be used and flows. My comprehensive services include two 45-minute phone calls with the clients (the Finishing Touches packages has 1 phone call) and I usually schedule the first of these calls after I’ve come up with some floor plan options. I email my plans to the clients ahead of our call so we can discuss the various options and narrow in on the best floor plan for their needs. It’s a very collaborative process.

Once a floor plan is agreed to, I start sourcing products and coming up with the color palette and style. I then create two concept boards  which shows some of the primary furnishings, fabrics and color palettes. There is usually a good amount of cross-over between the two concepts and the clients can select one over the other, or mix-and-match items from one board to another.

My floor plan software renders the plans in 3D so I am able best show the scale and volume of a space and its furnishings as the plan is developed. The next round with the client shows their space in fairly detailed 3D renderings from different vantage points in the room. I can also change the lighting from daylight to nighttime if needed.



We next move to a hybrid rendering which uses the digital background of the room (in essence, the room built in 3D) with the specific products laid in for a more realistic look at the space.

There may be 2 or 3 rounds of tweaks as we finalize the plan. This entire process from submission of photos and measurements to the final design is usually about three weeks or so. It’s faster than traditional design, but is not looked at as a process that should be rushed. Each decision should be carefully considered as one change can have a domino affect on other items in the space. A chair that’s a little bit bigger than the original selection can set off a chain reaction of other changes. The goal is that before my final package is put together, all decisions are made and signed off on.

The final package includes all the final renderings of all walls and any specific details that need to be highlighted, the finalized floor plan, and the shopping list. Below is a sample shopping list which shows large thumbnails of each item to be purchased, purchasing information, unit price, quantity and total price, and the link.

Each page has a sub-total and the final page (below) shows the final total, the original budget, the ETC (estimate to complete) and an estimated tax and freight fee. 

I start this sheet at the beginning of the sourcing phase so I can keep on top of the budget and be sure we’re within the goal. With my design services, there are never any surprises when it comes to the budget. As I said previously, I won’t take a project with an insufficient budget and I am happy to provide budget advice as needed.

Finally, while this example shows all items available at nationally recognizable retail stores, I can also offer trade-only fabrics and furnishings for a truly customized and personalized space.

You can learn more and sign up for these services here. Gift Certificates are also available if you’re looking for a great wedding or housewarming gift!

xoxo Linda Would you like my Favorite Tips for a Well-Decorated Home? Click here!

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