As a somewhat recent transplant to the West Coast, I’ve been fantasizing about revamping my apartment for a long time. I’m a great shopper, and I’m stellar at matching a table to a carpet. But fully revisualizing my entire bedroom design seemed like too daunting a task.
Sure, I could indulge in #designporn, endlessly scrolling through the “mid-century modern” search results on Pinterest and build a fantasy board of a perfect apartment, but it would be just that: a fantasy. I’ve always enjoyed fantasizing about making exotic travel plans and buying exotic apartment furnishings, but actually making the leap to buying a whole slew of decorations requires too much of a commitment. I needed help, even if I couldn’t exactly afford it on my own.
That’s why I jumped a the chance to try the digital interior design service Laurel and Wolf, which lets you redecorate your home from the privacy of your own bedroom.
Interior designer Leura Fine was inspired to launch Laurel and Wolf after witnessing how rapidly the design market was evolving, thanks to the Internet.
“I would meet people every single day who desperately needed professional design help for their home or businesses, and they couldn’t afford it,” Fine told the Daily Dot. “Or they could afford it, but weren’t hiring a designer because they didn’t like the lack of transparency.”
Fine noted that technology had given consumers the ability to buy home furnishings online, meaning they no longer needed to rely on stores in their hometown. The explosion of sites like Pinterest and Instagram also leveled the playing field, providing a bounty of resources for #decorporn addicts. “Suddenly, all of us wanted Instagram-worthy lives, and we had access to see what great design looks like,” she explained.
Laurel and Wolf connects interior designers with clients looking for help making their homes or businesses Pinterest and Instagram-ready. There are currently about 700 designers ready to virtually help you create #decorporn of your very own, so I decided to reach out to one of them to fulfill my Pinterest-inspired dreams.
Step one is a style quiz, which consists of simple images and word association to help Laurel and Wolf figure out what kind of design you want. I’m a big fan of midcentury modern, and so every image I thought fell into that category I rated high.
Once you’ve got your style down, you hit the payment portion, where you can decide how many rooms you want to work on and what level of service you want. For a single room, the standard service is $299, while upgraded premium services are $499 per room. The services include style boards, shopping lists, floor plans and a week to go back and forth with your chosen designer to work out all the kinks. (Full disclosure: Laurel and Wolf offered me access free of charge to understand the system. I paid personally for all the design elements I picked out during the process.)
To get started, you have to put in the dimensions of the room you were redecorating, so your designer could pick pieces appropriately sized for the space. You also have to snap pictures of your room in its current state and submit them to the designer. This led to me experiencing feelings of great shame caused by my unfashionable bedroom.
I had been living with my room like this for years, with the same Rent poster plastered on my wall and the same black-and-red color scheme. I’d always seen my bedroom as utilitarian: Seven years in New York City meant I had no space to be cute, and a bedroom was simply an opportunity for some extra storage. Although I had access to a lot more space when I moved to Los Angeles, a new location didn’t magically bestow me with a sense of interior design. Reluctantly, I snapped and uploaded pictures from six angles to the website.
From there, Laurel and Wolf matches up like-minded clients and designers. While Fine said most of the website’s clients are in their early thirties, there’s a pretty wide range.
“We’ve done college kid apartments to newlyweds in Omaha, to billionaires,” she said. “We are currently on our third billionaire’s home.”
I ended up with four designers to choose from. I then narrowed that number down to two, both of which I thought would do a great job with my style based on their vision boards for my fantasy room. Ultimately, I decided to go with Leah Berman, an Oakland-based designer, mostly because she’d picked the exact color scheme I’d used to decorate my living room already.
Once we were paired, I commended her on her instinct into my color palate, but then asked her to substitute coral for purple and keep my favorite color, teal.
We went back and forth through the site’s commenting system, with Berman finding me new versions of lamps, artwork, and pillows. Because we only communicated on the Internet, I didn’t have to worry about insulting her by dismissing her choices to her face. All I needed to do was give her a simple“no,” and she would find me something else.
Sometimes, Berman found me so many great options that narrowing them down was incredibly difficult. I had set my budget at the lowest rung, trying to stay under $1,000. But I was afraid things would get out of hand once I was working one-on-one with a designer.
I was concerned that working with a virtual consultant would cause me to bend to the pressure of buying fancier items. Luckily, Berman strictly adhered to my budget. She kept me within my limits and actually tried to find me the cheapest options with the best quality, so I could stretch my budget further.
The best part was that I didn’t have to forsake everything I owned to redo my room. My headboard and curtains remained, as well as knick-knacks and sentimental pieces. Beyond simply designing my room and having me follow a template, Berman made me feel empowered to make design choices for myself, all through a computer screen. I even moved a living room chair that matched the color scheme into the room after we finalized my final room layout and design, just because I was feeling inspired.
There were naturally a few bumps in the road to picture-perfect, domestic bliss. When I did get my shopping list, I discovered a few Target items were unavailable to ship from the website, including a lamp that apparently didn’t comply with bulb standards in the entire state of California. My desired side tables were only available in stores, and after hunting them down, I learned that Target’s definition of “natural wood” varies extremely widely. Nonetheless, within a month, after all the shipping and handling was done, I had a finished bedroom with just some assembly required.
The before and after is night and day. I feel like my room got an Oprah makeover and no one can quite believe it’s the same person. It’s the type of room that I want to proudly plaster all over Instagram, the type of room that’ll make design junkies drool as they re-pin photos of it to their “dream house” boards.
A professional interior design process was something I never would have had access to without an Internet solution. Now if only I had the time, money and space to do it all over again.
Photo via Laurel and Wolf