My fear about Virtual Interior Design

I never thought about virtual interior design.

I am a tactile person. I love working with my hands and I’m not scared to get them dirty. I love creating things that I can see- in fact in college I would get so frustrated about not doing things by hand that I would print things out and draw on top of them in order to give my renderings a more artistic feel.

So how do I do that virtually?

One of my 3D models that I designed during my first time working virtually with

One of my 3D models that I designed during my first time working virtually with

My first experience with virtual interior design was a few years ago when I was out of school and looking for work. It was small website that worked with people all over the country. They would fill out a style quiz, I would talk to them about what they were looking for, and then get to work designing their space in 3D. In the end, they would get a model of what their home would look like and a custom shopping list.

I never got to talk to them after I would give them my designs, and that was always hard. Did I give you design you wanted? Did I solve the challenges you were facing? Does it look beautiful?

I really just wanted to make sure that you felt like you were excited about the possibilities of what your room could be and saw how it could both function and be gorgeous.

Fast forward 4 years later….

I was asked if I would do a virtual design session for a friend who had just moved into a house that looked really different than her last one. I was excited to help her, but inwardly wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to offer her the same experience that I was able to in person.

Quick notes I made during our virtual session

Quick notes I made during our virtual session

Part of the progress that was made after our session

Part of the progress that was made after our session

However, as soon as we got on our video chat, everything changed.

I felt like I was there in person and was able to do everything I would have done if she was standing right next to me. In fact, it was even better than I thought because I had the internet at my fingertips and was able to show her images/ideas without trying to describe it.

It was amazing to be able to help someone hundreds of miles away. Not only help them, but give them the tons of other ideas simply because I had the visual resources at my disposal.

To top it off, she felt the same way too….

When we bought our new house, we loved the large living areas, but knew that our old strategy of buying furniture and décor based on how much it was on sale wasn't going to work anymore.  This will hopefully be our home for a long time, and we wanted to make it feel lived in, and above all, like us.

I admit that I was skeptical that this could be done effectively virtually.  Fortunately, I was so wrong.  Mary Jo and I used FaceTime to walk through the house together.  She gave me quick furniture arrangement tips on the fly, and sent me texts and emails to look at while we talked with examples of fabrics, rugs, furniture, art and more that would work well in our space.  She was able to articulate my style in just minutes, and had specific ideas and examples in our price range.  I loved all of them!  She had ideas I loved but never would've thought of on my own (like metallic wallpaper and a gold chandelier in our dining room), and was able to intuitively know what size of rugs each room needed.  Mary Jo understood that decorating is a process, and that we wouldn't be able to get all the pieces she recommended all at once, so she made recommendations that would look good in progress as well as completed.  I felt comfortable talking to her about my utilitarian needs in each room, my budget, and my preferences; she understood and advocated for all of these things and made wonderful suggestions that worked well with each.

Most of all, she gave me a vision for our house.  Now when I look at our rooms, I don't see a bunch of questions, but a specific image of how I want it to look.  I've never had that sort of goal before, and that clarity of vision is both freeing and empowering.  Our decorating work is not done, but we love what we have so far, and are excited about where we're going!  I use the follow-up email she sent (summarizing our FaceTime conversation) as my continual guide, and for the first time I have confidence in what I'm shopping for and the patience sometimes needed in order to get that perfect piece.

- Michelle

I am cannot tell you how much joy it brings me to know that I am able to help you create a beautiful home and give you what you need in order to develop a lasting design- virtually.

And unlike my earlier job, I CAN ask you how it’s going and support you in your questions as you move forward. Even though I may not live near you, I am going to bring you the same level of excitement and vision as if I was in your home with my paint deck.

What are your fears around virtual interior design?