The e-decorating clients I get are already on board with the idea of distance decorating. But for friends and potential clients who aren't quite sure how it works or what the benefits are, I thought I'd point out some of the advantages and disadvantages of e-design (aka virtual decorating). And if you're already lost, here's a post explaining what e-decorating is.
E-Decorating might be a good fit for you if...
1. You're on a budget.
When you're facing an empty room but just got married/just bought a house/just spent a lot of money elsewhere, e-design can be easy on the pocketbook for two reasons. First, a lot of e-design is on a flat rate - you're not paying for meetings or travel time because your designer is working from home. You're also not paying your designer to manage labor, ordering, or installation - just the design ideas. Second, because e-decorating is less hands-on for a designer, you're free to put the plan into action on your own timetable. Don't have money this month for a new sofa, pillows, table, AND drapes? You're free to buy one thing now and another thing in two months or whenever you can save up for it. Finally, having an overall plan in place can help you save money in the long run. If you KNOW the pillows you are saving up for, you will be less tempted to buy some random pillows on final clearance that you can't return and don't match anything else (hey, I've been there too). Impulse buys are over!
2. You're far away.
Whether that means you're in a remote location far from great stores, or you live on the other side of the country from the designer you really love (oh hi there!), e-decorating is a lot cheaper than flying someone in. It also means that the products I source are generally easy to find and most of them are available online. As long as you have mail service, I can design a room for you. If you live in the middle of nowhere but desperately want access to trade-items, we can make that happen too.
3. You want something a little more general.
E-decorating can get as specific as you want, but for a basic package, it's not the same as full-service decorating. Your decorator won't be there to mark on the wall where the curtain rod should hang, and if you just haven't gotten around to getting rid of the college sofa that's taking up half your living room, your decorator won't be there to nag you until that happens. I can't fluff pillows from 2,000 miles away. But a lot of people are mostly stuck on direction for the design, how to combine pieces, how to incorporate things they already own, and ways to mix patterns, colors, and textures. And for that more general stuff, a basic e-decorating package will get you there.
E-decorating might NOT be a good fit for you if...
1. You need lots (and lots) of options.
If you know you're the kind of person who needs to see, touch, and smell every piece and several back-up options, then you'll find e-decorating to be frustrating. While I'm happy to revise items and usually have back-ups for most of the items I specify, the fact of being virtual means that we can't visit stores together. If most of the products are from online sources, you won't be able to touch them ahead of time. I do recommend ordering samples whenever possible.
2. You want to come home to a finished product.
While no design is HGTV-quick-and-tidy, usually with a local designer you have the option to have them install your new design for you in one swoop after all the pieces have been sourced and delivered. As much as I'd love to fly out to every e-design client's home and style and arrange their purchases, it's just not how e-decorating works. You'll be placing orders, moving furniture, painting things (if necessary) and maybe even heading out to the antique shops in search of the perfect chair. You're still putting in the work, but you have the insight, plan, and vision of the designer.
3. You aren't comfortable articulating your wants and needs.
Telling someone all about your taste, style, and talking about "how the room should feel" can be an uncomfortable experience. While a good designer will have the kinds of questions that coax information out of you, if you're hesitant to share information or clam up, you won't get the kind of design you want. Do a bit of research before you reach out to a designer - be ready to share a few example images of rooms you love or elements you want to include. You can even read up on design vocabulary, but honestly, pictures give me a much better idea of what my clients want! Things will always come up later, but do some thinking about how you really want to use the room and what it needs to accommodate. Email can be an awkward mechanism for sussing out someone's style, so ask if using skype or the phone would be a good supplementary way to discuss ideas with your designer. I know I'd be happy to oblige.
I hope that gives you an idea of some of the pros and cons of e-decorating and whether or not it's a service you'd be interested in. I'm also happy to answer any questions in the comments or via email. And be sure to check out my services page for more info on what a basic package includes as well as my pricing.