Sites of­fer de­sign ad­vice

Need help pick­ing out a sofa or per­haps up­dat­ing a room?

Orlando Sentinel - - STYLE & HOME - By Joseph Pisani

NEW YORK — Hir­ing an in­te­rior de­signer is ex­pen­sive, and the chances of an HGTV host burst­ing through your doors are slim. But sev­eral sites have made it more af­ford­able to get de­sign help with­out any­one ever step­ping in­side your home.

Havenly, Way­fair and oth­ers are charg­ing less than $100 a room to con­nect users with an in­te­rior de­signer who can pick out a sofa, show you how to re­ar­range fur­ni­ture or of­fer other de­sign help. The sites also make money if you buy the fur­ni­ture and other goods that the de­sign­ers rec­om­mend.

Even though you’ll have help from a de­signer, make sure you have a sense of what you do or don’t like. The sites de­pend on your sur­vey re­sponses to come up with a de­sign plan.

“You want to en­sure you’re giv­ing the de­signer an ac­cu­rate rep­re­sen­ta­tion of your taste so you re­ceive a de­sign that you’re happy with,” says Sara Skir­boll, a shop­ping and trends ex­pert at deal site Re­tailMeNot. Here’s what else you need to know:

Those who need help fill­ing an empty room or spruc­ing up a den or bed­room with new light­ing or pil­lows. It’s not for those who are seek­ing help with ma­jor ren­o­va­tions, like a bath­room or kitchen re­model.

A flat fee is typ­i­cally charged per room. Prices dif­fer: Havenly’s fees start at $55 for a de­sign re­fresh and then up to $169 for a full room makeover. Way­fair of­fers a $79 and $149 op­tion, and an­other site, Decorist, charges $299 a room. Do an in­ter­net search for coupon codes since the sites of­ten of­fer dis­counts to new users. Both Havenly and Decorist also al­low peo­ple to ask de­sign­ers ques­tions for free through their sites, which is a good way to test the type of ad­vice you’ll get be­fore buy­ing.

Make sure to read what you’ll be get­ting. Some may not of­fer re­vi­sions, phone chats with de­sign­ers or 3D lay­outs of what the items will look like in your room.

Af­ter a quiz in which you pick out styles and colors, you’ll be asked for room mea­sure­ments, pho­tos or videos of the room. You’ll be matched with a cou­ple of in­te­rior de­sign­ers and be able to look at pic­tures of their past work and se­lect one of the de­sign­ers. A bud­get can be set so that de­sign­ers will know how much you’re will­ing to spend on new items. The sites say that they vet the de­sign­ers, many of whom al­ready have their own de­sign firms and are look­ing to make ex­tra cash or boost their clien­tele through the sites.

Havenly and Decorist rec­om­mend prod­ucts from fur­ni­ture sellers that they part­ner with, such as West Elm and CB2. Way­fair, mean­while, rec­om­mends items from its own sites as well as oth­ers. Havenly gives those that paid for its de­sign ser­vice a $50 credit if they buy $200 or more in goods.

There’s no obli­ga­tion to buy any­thing that the de­sign­ers rec­om­mend, and you can use the ad­vice to “find the ex­act item or a sim­i­lar one at a lower price else­where,” says Skir­boll.

The de­signer ser­vice is for peo­ple who need help fill­ing an empty room or spruc­ing up a den or bed­room.

JENNY KANE/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Home de­sign sites say they vet de­sign­ers they rec­om­mend, many of whom have their own de­sign firms.

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