The idea of technology controlling aspects of an environment — such as lighting, music and the occasional magically appearing bed — used to be the sole prerogative of James Bond wannabe bachelors, expressing their Alpha maleness.
Now everyone has the means to impress, via smartphones with home-control apps. Still, making the shades go up and down — or even changing the color of your walls remotely,
using projected light — is little more than a flashy parlor trick.
In the last 10 years, technology has revolutionized interior design in two major ways — by eliminating client interface with both the designer and the designer’s resources. Online/virtual interior designers, or “e-decorators,” propose creative solutions and recommend furniture, lighting, accessories and paint colors from online retailers all without any personal interaction. No more meetings, phone calls, lunches, presentations, shopping trips to showrooms and hand-holding, as in actually holding hands. Although a remote consultant can feel, well, rather remote, there are home decorating hopefuls out there forging satisfying relationships with
e-decorating companies and getting good results.
All of these companies work in basically the same way with slight variations. First, you choose which design style appeals to you most whether it’s modern, traditional, country, relaxed
or formal. Next you download pictures of your space along with measurements and your budget. An e-decorator sends two or three concept previews, submitting a floor plan, colors and a 3-D rendering of the space. The customer picks a favorite. The designer then provides a comprehensive shopping list of furniture from online retailers. Some companies even have a purchasing service as well. A word of caution though: You need to be meticulous with measurements and photographs, otherwise the whole process falls apart. My picks for a quality experience are Decorilla, Havenly, Laurel & Wolf and Homepolish.
DESIGNER-QUALITY ONLINE RETAIL RESOURCES
If we are going to get real about where people most frequently spend their online furniture dollars, we would probably look no further than Ikea. I promise you, though, there are many high-quality and personality-laden home shops online now that the average consumer could only previously access through a designer. The following are some of my favorites:
• Eclectic: ABC Carpet & Home, Lillian August, Anthropologie
• Glam: OLY Studio, Jonathan Adler
• Edgy: Kelly Wearstler
• Cottage/Provincial: Shabby Chic, Restoration Hardware
• Traditional/Transitional: Horchow, Neiman Marcus, Williams Sonoma Home
• Modern: Knoll, 2modern
• Artisan: The Citizenry
• Pop: Mod Livin’
• Fine antiques: 1stdibs
• Paint: Farrow & Ball
• Bedding: Gracious Home
• Lighting: Circa Lighting
• Teen: Urban Outfitters Apartment
• Kids: Dwell Studio
• Design/coffee table books: Rizzoli
• Original artwork: Tappan Collective, Twyla (which nurtures young art lovers, enabling them to start a relatively affordable collection)
• Upholstery & drapery fabrics: Mood Fabrics (Yes, it’s the same fashion fabric store from Project Runway.)
• Local: (Not that it really matters, but local is such a thing now.) Nest Inspired Home in Rye
A particularly cool website I recently discovered that really has it all is Modern Relik. It’s a style-maker — a leader in inspiration — and a design destination because of an interesting mix of classic style, “past relics,” and swanky, avant-garde pieces, curated flawlessly. It also includes
a section called “The Verve: cocktail conversation on art, fashion, pop culture and all things fab.” C’mon, how amazing is that?
We take blogs for granted now, but before they existed, we all had to pay and wait for our favorite monthly shelter magazines to hit the newsstands to see the latest trends. Now, those visuals, as well as free advice, are available with new content to be had daily. Yes, there are a lot of amateur blogs out there, but several of them are both professional and multifaceted, covering everything in the realm of design, architecture, art and style. Here are my go-to favorites:
• What’s new: Design Milk
• Bohemian/modern style: SF Girl By Bay
• Scandinavian style: My Scandinavian Home
• DIY: Design*Sponge
• Small spaces: Apartment Therapy
• Renovations: Remodelista
• Cozy/modern style: Lark & Linen
Despite all of these myriad tech resources, life is still lived in the here and now and in finite spaces containing an ambience created by the human touch, with an ineffable energy all its own. Thankfully, there is nothing virtual about that.