Online Interior Design Sites vs In-Person Interior Design


Amazon, TaskRabbit, Favor, Instacart, Upwork: these days, so many services are done online or via app. It’s easy to avoid chores when one simple swipe of the phone means someone else will take care of it.

The newest service to jump on the trend is interior design, where a website pairs users with a professional interior designer to help them decorate their space, entirely online.

These sites have their flaws, however—especially when you’re relying on someone you’ve never even met to do your work for you. After all, we’ve all had the experience of peeling ourselves off the couch to receive our Instacart order, only to find dented cans or bruised produce, or even a missing necessary ingredient.

It’s one thing to have someone buy your groceries or mow your lawn via automation. But designing your home is something else entirely. It’s your place of peaceful rest and sanctuary, the place that should reflect your very unique style, down to the last detail. It’s a place that should feel authentically you. And that’s a hard task to pull off online. Here’s the lowdown on what you can expect from online interior design sites versus using a real-life home designer.

Costs Vary—But for Good Reason


The number-one reason most people choose online design is to save money. And I get it, because you can bet your life I’ll seek out the best Austin happy hours with half-priced margaritas. The point is, who doesn’t love to save money?

It’s true that some online design services can be less expensive. After all, they don’t have to pay for a brick-and-mortar location or engage in a personalized, multi-step process that covers your unique style and needs before the designing even begins. But in the words of famed tattoo artist Sailor Jerry, “Good work ain’t cheap, cheap work ain’t good.”

Online services are a smart option for those on a restricted budget, which often works for apartment renters or anyone who doesn’t plan on staying in their home for long and just needs a quick fix. But when it’s your forever home we’re talking about—or even a place you’ll be hanging your vintage stetson hat for a few years—it pays to do it the right way. Think of it as an investment for your home, and therefore your happiness, because a designer worth their salt will work with you until it’s perfectly aligned with your unique vision of a dream home.

Different Shades of Personalization


Curious about the process of working with an online designer? It goes a little something like this: You choose a room you’d like to design. Most sites will have you answer a short online survey or fill out a brief form about your personal style. You can include room measurements and photos if you like. In return, you’ll be presented with a design scheme—often only one—like a paint-by-numbers for your space.

If your online designer allows revisions, you’re usually limited to one. If they don’t offer multiple design schemes or revisions, you’re stuck with what they gave you—which you also have to pay for. Plus you’ll be setting up and styling everything yourself. And because the designer has never even been to your house, clients often find that furniture pieces don’t fit within the space perfectly, are out of proportion, or are just plain uncomfortable—not mention less cute than the online photo.

As an interior designer with years of cultivated experience, my favorite part of my job is marrying my talent with your personality. I always say that the spaces I design aren’t just rooms but love letters to you, my client. I don’t rely only on whatever trends the home decor magazines are raving about. Instead, I blend your specific tastes and needs with exactly what makes up your personal style, whether that means working with an unusual color palette, sourcing a hard-to-find wallpaper, or even incorporating unique, cruelty-free vegan design elements—a true passion of mine.

Room for Changes

When you use an online interior design site, you often get only one or two design options. That means that not only do you miss out on a personalized and comprehensive consultation process of brainstorming and planning your unique vision with the help of your designer, but once the online service has given you two options, you’re out of luck if you don’t like what they offered.

Some services will offer one revision, but it will be minor. Because you’re dealing with a limited budget, an online service will want to move on quickly to their next client, rather than give you the personalization and consistent help you would get from an in-person design service. When you work with an actual designer, however, the job isn’t over until you’re fully satisfied with your new space, down to the very last detail.

Project Guidance


Part of the cost of hiring an interior designer IRL is that they take care of the project from start to finish, down to every last detail. For example, at J.Fisher Interiors, I take care of the design planning, construction documents (approvals and certifications included), and tendering. The only negotiating you have to do is deciding on the color for your new velvet upholstered couch.

If you’re just starting on your design journey, it makes sense that you might not have a clue where to start. Even if you don’t know what your personal style or home vision is, we can help you find it and transform your home with your own unique fingerprint. For an Austin interior design service that’s completely human centered, contact us at J.Fisher Interiors for a free consultation. Let’s get started on the journey to making your home your dream space.


J.Fisher Interiors’ studio is located in east Austin. To schedule your consultation appointment, please fill out the contact form or call us at 512.954.0904. We would love to hear from you!

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