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.
Havenly starts with a style quiz where you select photos of rooms you like and answer a few personality questions. You can select the level at which you want to be involved in the process, or say screw it and let your designer take the wheels. Then, you’re presented with a few color schemes and mood boards to rate, before you’re asked to upload photos of the room and any relevant inspiration pics. All this information allows Havenly to match you with an in-house designer that best suits your style and needs.
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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.)
I got so tired of scrolling through options that I just plopped a couple of items in there to visualize the space. Eventually, I felt embarrassed by the duckling I’d created. The room looked as if I was trying to re-create a West Elm showroom by memory using only stuff I can get from a local Walmart. I had to move on.