For the project, my boyfriend and I were willing to invest up to $3,000 on new furnishings and art (about a fourth of that budget I anticipate to make back in selling furniture we’re replacing). Our small (but reasonably sizable, for New York City) apartment needed the most work in the living / dining room, which is open to the kitchen. We cook at home a decent amount, but never have enough people over for a formal dining space. We do have friends over frequently to hang, drink, and play games, so we wanted the room to feel light, bright, and easy for multiple people to maneuver around.
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Fed up with free tools, I gave paid services a go. I was first introduced to e-interior design startup Havenly a few years ago at SXSW. The service promises to create a mood board, layout, and a shopping list to help make implementing the design easy — all under a flat rate instead of an hourly bill you might get with an in-person designer. (Havenly starts at $19 for a consultation, while the full experience is $169 for a bare room, with help on where to lay out each piece.)
Naturally, there were some design challenges with the space itself. First, the apartment features steel floors, and we wanted a little bit of warmth to counter the industrial vibes. Second, we’re on the top floor, which has a sloped ceiling from the roof in the living room. Lastly, there is a brick feature wall that we cannot mount anything on, and it’s directly across from a west-facing window that could add glare to a TV.
Trying to stretch as much of my budget as possible, I first tried a few free services for modeling my soon-to-be home. Some light Googling led me to Roomstyler, a 3D rendering tool for mocking up rooms and furnishing them with select furniture pieces from a catalog. This seemed like a good start for envisioning how we could lay out some of the items that would make the move with us.
Some categories would also randomly disappear. A look under home entertainment did not offer anything resembling at TV I could stick into the room for a visual, even if it wasn’t my exact model. And I couldn’t find a single art piece to place on the wall to create any kind of interest in the room.