Interior design and furniture selection used to be a labor-intensive, time-sucking, expensive endeavor. You had to travel to a variety of stores or shows, or deep-creep a ton of websites, determine what would fit both your budget and picky style preferences (lots of leopard print for me), or maybe book a series of appointments with an interior designer and go through all the motions with them, and then organize a bunch of stuff to be delivered or haul it around yourself–and that’s just the basics.
Now a host of innovative startups are making it all of it simpler; interior design and home furnishing has been hit with a much-needed touch of innovation and convenience. To start, here are seven of them to check out…
CoContest turns your interior design project into a crowdsourcing contest. You create a design contest on the site, and within 14 days, approximately ten designers will put together a full proposal for you; users can receive project layouts, renders, recommended furniture, detailed layouts, section/elevation diagrams and even full quotes, depending on the depth desired (Concept, Project, Advanced proposal options). Once you have all your submissions, you just choose the designs you like best. CoContest rewards the designer.
The contests can range from something as small as a single living area to a complete house. When you look at the contests that have been completed, you get a sense of the variety of what’s submitted to the site, with everything from an urban smokehouse restaurant to startup offices. Once you have your winning plans, it’s then up to you to get it all executed.
Cutting out the middleman saves a ton of money, with companies like Warby Parker and Casper as proof. Interior Define wants to take the middleman out of furniture sales. By manufacturing, selling, and shipping their own custom sofas, the company can sell their products at a significant discount compared to traditional furniture stores, with an 111″ fabric sofa with left chaise, for example, starting at just $1,900.
Because all Interior Define sofas are made to order, they can customize the look, fill of the cushions, legs, and even the size of all their products. The company warns that their process will take longer than the usual sofa order and, “If you need a sofa in a week or two, then by all means, do what you gotta do!” They even offer a 365-day return policy.
Havenly is trying to provide the full package, offering customers everything from the interior designer to the furniture selection and procurement to the shipping. Users begin by taking a survey of tastes, design preferences, etc. Then they input project details, such as the budget, after which they’re paired with a designer to create and refine the plan.
Once all the details are finalized, users can purchase all the items on their shopping list directly from Havenly, who then ships them to their front door. With the Havenly model, users pay an up front service fee for the entire design and consultation process, and then furniture costs are added on top–the full service package is $199.
Trying to find quality artwork for your home that you genuinely like looking at all the time is like trying to find a needle in a haystack…of really shitty hay. And really shitty needles. If you’ve ever gone to an art gallery, you’ve probably had one of two reactions:
- That is literally the WORST thing I’ve ever seen
- HOW MUCH does that cost???
Artspace brings the gallery to you with the goal of finding the perfect piece of art for a price that fits your budget. In the core user flow, you can search by type of art (print, photo, painting, etc.), and then sort by price once you’ve selected your category.
The interface also lets you search by artist, gallery, show, and more. Prices start under $50 and range to over $1,000,000 (does anyone really spend this kind of money online?). Yes, you’re still going to find some terrible art, but at least you can scroll past it quickly. The selection is pretty deep with more than 3,000 pieces between North America and Europe alone.
If you’re like me and absolutely suck at interior design (and are equally desperate to avoid it), SwatchPop! is one ticket out of hell. SwatchPop! connects you with a remote professional interior designer for a fraction of the standard price, allowing you to get help on any project, regardless of the size, without having to leave the comfort of your soon-to-be-way-sexier home.
Users fill out a semi-detailed questionnaire of lifestyle questions and style preferences, and then they upload photos of the rooms that need help. Within 3 days, a designer sends back a custom plan and shopping list.
Unlike some other customized styling companies (e.g., StichFix, Trunk Club) that which make money on the products they sell within their service, SwatchPop! only sells consultations. Ideally, that would mean that they’re not going to give you more than you need, or get needlessly pricey.
Oh you fancy, huh? Well, if you plan on dropping some serious change for luxury furniture but don’t want to leave your luxurious home, Vinterior allows you to buy second-hand luxury stuff online. They offer furniture, lighting, decor, textiles, and rugs.
Perhaps Vinterior’s most valuable feature is that they work hard to remove the element of mystery/risk that’s present when you search blindly on second hand markets like Craigslist. They want you to have a high level of confidence that you are purchasing high-end furnishings that are in relatively good shape, so they promise a thorough vetting process. As such, the minimum listing price is £100 (about $150USD).
It used to be that if you wanted a scene to last longer, you took a picture of it. Now we take pictures by the thousands and delete them just as quickly. These days, if you really want a scene to last longer, you get a painting of it.
Instapainting allows you to upload a photo to their site and then, by an “independent master portrait artist, have it turned into an oil painting, mixed media painting, watercolor painting, colored pencil drawing, charcoal pencil drawing, or simple pencil drawing. You can have it rolled, gallery wrapped or framed.
Most paintings are delivered in three weeks. Prices start at $49 and increase depending on the size painting you select. On top of that, there’s a global feel-good element to the product too: 6% of your order is donated to global healthcare charity, Watsi.org.
Stephen Altrogge is a freelance writer based in Tallahassee, Florida. He writes about tech, marketing, faith, and lots of other things. He’s married to Jen and has three young girls. Every day he consumes more coffee than the entire population of Colombia. He knows more about Star Wars than any respectable man should, and he runs more than any sane man would. He once attempted to eat a 2 pound hamburger in under an hour. He failed.
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