Is it worth the price tag?
From time to time I design room makeovers for readers. Send me your photos, room measurements, tell me your design problems and I’ll create the interior design of your dreams. My Design Dilemmas are free in exchange for posting them.
I take pride in all my design work, so I spend a bit of time on them. That’s why I was interested so see what Designer At Home could design for my living room at the unbelievable price of $299 per room.I was contacted by Designer At Home’s press agent and asked to give their service a test drive. It’s always nice to get a fresh opinion, right? Maybe they could come up with an interesting idea for creating 2 groupings in my narrow and long living room, which served as the guinea pig. The test drive was free, so I had nothing to lose.
I measured both the room and the furniture, took photos, and filled out a detailed form. I selected red as my favorite color (you can only choose one). You also have five styles to choose from. I picked eclectic. Could DAH solve my design issue? Would they be able to fit red into the vibrant color scheme of my home?
The first design I received (above and below) was okay. I was really unimpressed for several reasons. First, it was sloppy work. The board specified a rug and 2 armchairs but nothing I received indicated where they came from. The explanation said the rug would work with my tile floor. My floors are hardwood. The style of curtain was forgotten.
Next, the design was, in my opinion, incomplete. An entire wall was devoid of anything. Only two pieces of my own furniture was used. Though I mentioned some rather high-end brands of existing furnishings and fabrics, all the resources were mid to low-end (Target). Finally, the press agent told me I was allowed to make three changes, but there was no contact information on letter. If I hadn’t been able to email the press agent I’d be lost.
Here’s a look at the first board.
I pointed out the problems and was given a second design. They added some art and gave me the resources for the chairs and rug. Still no contact information.
I have 2 problems
Because I’m a professional, this was a really difficult service to honestly review. I could pick apart their design all day long. The colors are very 2-dimensional, there isn’t much play with height, there isn’t enough lighting, they stuck a couple of mismatched art on a wall, etc… BUT…
It cost a mere $299 – that’s unbelievably inexpensive. What level of expertise should you expect for that price? I’m giving you the links to the furniture at the bottom of the post. Check them out. And check out the second board, below. If this were your room would you feel you got your money’s worth?
I polled some friends. Most of them said they’d be happy – especially because of the price. For $299 how can you complain? A design friend thought most people would be thrilled with the chaise. It’s from West Elm and costs $1,999. But you can go to many furniture showrooms and have a designer do the work for free. Yes, you buy their furniture, but you can also walk away with the design and buy what you like somewhere else.
Which leads me to problem number two…
Who exactly is doing the work? DAH claims that they have a team of “seasoned interior designers”, but I don’t see how they can make a profit paying real designers to do the work while charging only $299 per room. DAH may have can get office staff create the boards and draft the floor plan, but most “seasoned professionals” charge at least $100 per hour. Even I can’t design that fast.
My guess is DAH is using interns or students. As long as their clients are happy with the work, I have no problem with that. But they need to say so. I was told the owner was doing my design. Really? Hmm…
My other thought is that they’ve got this idea tightly packaged. Their five different styles have a tight list of pre-selected furnishings. Hence the all-affordable price points. It makes designing a room fast because you only have 3 sofas to choose from. The same thing with the fabrics. If they nail down eclectic to mean five or six different fabrics in their specified colorways, you can zip through a design in no time. That might explain the low price and the ho-hum quality of the design. Check out their “before and afters.”
My bottom line is you get what you pay for.
Does that matter to you?
Would it matter to you if you discovered that an intern or student designed your room instead of a pro? Would it bother you if your furnishings were from Target? Would you rather go to a furniture showroom?
What do you think of the design? Like it? Love it? Hate It? Finally, I’d love to hear from readers and/or designers who have used or run an online service. Is this the wave of the future?
- Loring sofa ($1,999) from RoomandBoard
- Concentric Coffee Table ($300) from ZGallerie I was told you can sit on this (?)
- Manhattan Console Table ($129) from Target
- Stow Red Storage Ottoman ($99) from Crate & Barrel
- Blake Sectional Left Arm Chaise ($1,999) from WestElm
- Momeni New Wave Rug (no size specified – so price ?) from RugsUSA
- Art: Warmth ($399) and Refract & Release ($63.99) from Art.com
- Rectangular Distressed Mirror ($189) from HomeDecorators.com
- Fabrics: Hampton Embroidery & Figaro Silk Stripe from Lee Jofa, Costner from Michael Jon Design, 180648H from Highland Ct.
- Paints: Benjamin Moore’s “My Valentine” and “Deserted Island”